Friday, July 06, 2012


We're in New Hampshire now. We've done mountain hiking, kayaking, and I've done a lot of biking and running. There's a bike ride coming up next Saturday, the Prouty Ride, that I'd love to do but we'll have moved on. There are distance options of 20, 50, 100, and 200 miles. It's right outside our door. I can ride out the driveway and be on the course. It's killing me not to be here for it. I would have wanted the 50, and planned all week that since we're not going to be here, I'd go out today and ride the 50-mile course.

Steve & I were watching the 4th of July parade Wednesday when 2 cyclists rode up on road bikes, stopping right in front of where we were to watch the parade also. They were wearing jerseys from previous years of the Prouty. I thought about asking these folks if there might be going to pre-ride the course on Friday, but then thought, no, they're old, 70's probably, if they're riding it at all this year they're no doubt only doing the 20.

Today I went out and started the 50-mile route. After about 5 miles I saw 2 cyclists way up ahead, and within 5 minutes I'd caught them. It was the older couple from the parade. They were doing "part of" the course today, about 12 miles. I asked them if they were riding next weekend, and..... he's doing the century, she's doing the 50. Surprise, Ellie! Don't judge a book by its cover. I rode with them and talked with them. He's 70 and she looks older but is probably in her late 60's, I'm guessing. They offered me a rest stop at their home and gave me a glass of ice water.

As we rode together, she mentioned that she's a little apprehensive about doing 50 miles since she's just getting back to biking. Oh, have you had an injury? Slight chuckle, yes.... less than a year ago she wrecked her bike during a race, in Sweden for petesake, and broke 6 ribs and punctured a lung. (They said the Swedish Emergency Medical Services and hospital were fantastic.) Then when she recovered from that, they discovered she had a very rare, very aggressive skin cancer, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, which has a higher mortality rate than even melanoma. She had surgery and radiation treatments. So, she's now getting back to biking less than a year after the wreck and the cancer, surgery, and radiation. She got behind on the climbs today but said although she was slow and it was hard, she felt well, which is a new improvement. Her husband was ecstatic. She's definitely planning on the 50-miler next week.

Oh, she started biking  years ago because she was in renal failure and thought it would better her chances if she became more fit overall. She got her husband to bike with her and they've both been at it ever since. This is his 20th consecutive year of riding the Prouty Century. She's been told by both her oncologists the Swedish trauma specialists that her overall fitness is to thank for her quick recovery, especially at her age.

I want to be just like her. I want to be just like them. I want to ride a century when I'm 70, and if I ever break ribs and puncture a lung in a bike wreck and then fight a potentially fatal disease, I want to be back on my bike riding 50 miles in less than a year.

The odd thing is, as we shared experiences,  that she said she wants to be just like me. Because of the things I do... biking, triathlons, hiking the AT. Even though I've never had to recover from anything worse than tendonitis and sprains. She called me a "phenomenal athlete."

I'm humbled. I told her about Holly continuing to train for a marathon while undergoing chemotherapy for melanoma, and then founding the Cancer to 5K program.

I'm not going to complain about the small stuff anymore.


Anonymous said...

You never know where the next uplifting inspiration may come from.

I want to be like you! :) Sadly, I still sporadically deal with angina when pushing it. Knowing one's limitations is healthy.

Nadine said...

Ellie, what an uplifting message about the special couple you meet. Since I am a retired Oncology Nurse, this lady and her husband inspire me. We miss you Ellie and keep you and your husband in our prayers