As some of you may know, my thirst for the next bigger and better athletic challenge has risen to a new level. After completing the Philadelphia Marathon in 2009 and after qualifying for the Boston Marathon with a 3:38 in the Richmond Marathon in 2010 (with loyal friend Sarah Gerth'12 by my side each time), I have decided it's time to conquer the Ironman.
On May 7th 2011, I will head to Utah (with Sam Ritchie'09 this time around), and take on the 140.6 mile race. Training began in earnest last week with some horribly freezing bike rides requiring chocolate chip cookies to keep me happy and plastic bags over my feet to keep them from freezing. The 20mi/hr winds today combined with the 25 degree weather may sound epic, but I actually would have cried had my tear ducts not been frozen.
That said, I am willing to endure not only for my pride, but this time for an awesome cause directly related to my Dale Fellowship project. Each mile of my race will be dedicated to Haiti and the people who I met there. I'm encouraging anyone who feels so inclined to donate five cents per mile of the race ($7.03) or ten cents per mile of the race ($14.06) I'll be suffering/having the time of my life. All of the money fundraised will be sent to Foundation for Peace -- the organization with which I went to Haiti in August 2010. Their current goals are to help stop cholera, support a trade school, and keep kids in school in the rural town of Fond Parisien (where I painted my mural). Having seen them in action, I can't think of a more trustworthy or productive organization to give to.
In addition, under the heading Haiti, I'll keep you all updated on the training progress. More stories are destined to unfold, especially as I carry my bike around to my different mural projects. Just last week on the train to Metropark, I met a man named Pop from Philadelphia. He expressed admiration for my bike and then asked for what I was using it. I explained my goal and he exclaimed, "Well girl, you got heart. You're little, but you're gonna win."
Well, I then had to nicely explain that I wasn't going to win at all but that finishing was possible. He didn't want to hear any of that. "When you be climbing those hills," he said, "you just grit your teeth and think of Pop. You think, Pop said I'm gonna win. And then you win, girl. That's how you do."
So Pop, here's your shout out. Tomorrow when I hop on my bike and pray the next NJ snow storm doesn't hit early, I'm gonna grit my teeth and think "That's how I do."
Here's to athletics, Haiti, and supportive strangers on trains.