Need for Speed

This week, after months of anticipation, I finally became the owner of a brand new beautiful road bike.  A few weeks ago, I received a letter in the mail notifying me that my grant through the Challenged Athletes Foundation had been accepted.  Enclosed in the letter was a hefty check to cover the cost of my new bike.  I was ecstatic, but I was even more excited to learn that many of my friends also received grant money from CAF.  Every year, CAF awards over $1 million in grants to individuals with physical disabilities who are pursuing athletics.  They fund anything from adaptive equipment to traveling and training expenses, and are truly one of the nation’s leaders in helping athletes with disabilities realize their dreams.

My first ride. Thanks to the random girl on the street for walking by at the perfect time to capture the moment.

A few months ago, I had a bike fit done at Running Away Multisport where I was able to determine what body positioning would allow me to generate the most power.  Based on my specs, the fit specialist recommended the Cervelo S5, an aero road bike.  Upon receiving my letter, I immediately told the bike guys at Running Away, who quickly tracked down the S5 in my size.  I went to pick it up on Sunday, and was initially a little bit intimidated by how gorgeous it was.  It took me a couple minutes for me to process that this beautiful thing was actually mine.  I took it out for the obligatory spin around the block and was immediately shocked by how smoothly it rode.  I only rode about a mile around Deerfield but that was enough for me to fall in love.  I wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination, but I felt much faster than ever before.  But after taking it for a real ride today I can confidently say that she is not just a pretty frame—she’s also freaking FAST.  As I walked out of the store, I felt like a mother leaving the hospital with her new baby.  I am only partially kidding when I say that this is what maternal instinct must feel like.

I owe a huge thank you to the Challenged Athletes Foundation for awarding me the grant to make this purchase.  I never would have been able to get this bike without you and am sincerely grateful for all that you do for athletes with disabilities.  And of course, a special shout-out to my buddies at Running Away Multisport for doing my bike fit and hooking me up—and for all the maintenance work for which I will consistently come to you.

Tyler and I (Terrapin 5K, August 2011)

In other news, I ran a great 5K on Sunday morning with a couple other Blade Runners.  One of the cool things about this amputee running group is that they pair all of the athletes with a guide for the duration of the race.  Since I don’t have a knee on my running leg, I have to swing it out to the side every time I step.  Because of this, it’s helpful to have a guide run alongside me to make sure I don’t kick any of the other runners.  Aside from that, I just like having the company.  Considering my attention span is comparable to that of a goldfish, it’s nice to have someone to entertain me when the boredom sets in after 5 minutes.  For my last few races, I’ve been guided by Tyler, one of the residents at Scheck & Siress.  Tyler started running with me in the middle of last season, and has been there for all of my races ever since.  We have also started to run together outside of races.  It’s pretty easy to get stuck dong the same thing when I’m training by myself, so I like having Tyler there to force me spice up the run with sprints and intervals.  Now being a running guide is surprisingly difficult work.  When it comes to people talking to me while running, there is an extremely fine line between making me feel pumped and making me want to punch someone in the face.  Tyler is really awesome at staying on the good side of this line, and always manages to say the right thing at the right time.  He lets me know when I am slowing down and need to pick up the pace, and in the last half mile when my stomach starts to hurt and I am making whiny noises, he pretends not to hear and tells me to push through it and sprint to the finish.

After my first 5K of the year a few weeks ago, Tyler and I decided that this next race would be the only where I would break my time best time from last year—32:30.  Before the gun went off, he looked me in the eye and gave me a pep talk that was powerful enough to keep me motivated for the duration of the race.  I was expecting to cut a couple seconds off my record from last season, but as I rounded the corner that led to the final stretch, I was shocked to see the clock at just over 30 minutes.  I ended up finishing in 30:30, a full two minutes faster than my previous record.  I crossed the timing mat with my fist in the air, only to be swept off my feet in a huge hug from Tyler.  Aside from my very first triathlon, it was the happiest finish I’ve ever had.  It’s funny how two minutes can feel like such a big deal, but any runner will tell you that these little accomplishments are the reason why they race.

All in all, it was a good weekend.  With a fabulous new bike and a PR, I’m starting to feel really good about Nationals.  T minus 4 weeks to go…

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