Friday, March 20, 2015

Connecting (more) Dots

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Leadville

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Gianna

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Leadville.

(I hope.)

I wrote about Gianna in a post about two and a half years ago when I went to Leadville between my fifth and sixth chemo treatments, then again last year when I went to Annapurna - inspired by my dear friend who had become my light in survivorship. Proof that there was indeed life after the big C.

Not coincidentally (cause there's no such thing), Gianna died of  (recurrent) metastatic breast cancer while I was running the Annapurna Ultramarathon on March 1st of last year. Somewhere around mile 28 I sped off from the group I had been running with for at least the last 7 hours. I needed to feel the wind on my face and the pavement under my feet. My friends were upset that I would take off so hastily without an explanation. But I didn't really have an explanation until I got back to the hotel and realized that Gianna had died. We all agreed that she had come to visit me that afternoon, bringing me briskly to the finish line - as she would have done herself.

Leadville represents so many things for me. I was so, so sick when I was there. Unable to hike (what would normally be a no-brainer for me) halfway up powerline. It was so difficult to get me there that we decided it would be best to leave me there all day rather than bring me down for lunch and back up again for when the riders returned. So Virgie went to get us both lunch, leaving me and Tate on the mountain for almost 11 hours. When the riders did return to powerline, 80 miles into their 104 mile ride, they somehow breathed life into me with their encouragement for my pathetic, bald self even though clearly it should have been the other way around. It was one of the best days of my life. And so, before she found out her cancer had returned and before it got really bad, Gianna and I talked about doing it together one day.

To be healthy enough to actually consider participating in this race, to imagine actually riding down powerline (and then pushing my bike back up it 60 miles later) with all of those beautiful athletes, to bringing Gianna's spirit back to the race I'd met her at, to being able to give whatever light I have in me to a race and place that gave so much to me when I needed it most ... my heart is completely full.

I found out on January 15th that I was selected into the Leadville 100 MTB lottery. Training is in full force (except for this week as I'm galavanting around Costa Rica spending way too much time in the sun and drinking way too many gin and tonics). Post hysterectomy (and on new meds) I feel strong and healthy and ready to tackle this beast.