A Dose of Reality with a Side of Lies.

I realized two things today.

1. The VT50 is exactly one month away.

chris farley scared

And…

2. Hello Kitty is a goddamn fraud. Really?!?! She’s a little girl?!?! A little HUMAN girl. How is that possible? Who the hell are her parents? Jocelyn Wildenstein and Roy Horn?!?! Well Girlfriend better get a good pair of tweezers to pluck those whiskers of hers. We’ve essentially been fed a bowl of fortified Sanrio lies for over 20 years. I am outraged. Simply outraged.

hello kitty

Now back to that 50K I’m running in 30 days…

I’m not quite sure why I feel as if it’s sneaking up on me seeing as how I’ve been obsessing about it since I Pulled the Trigger in a moment of Post-Marathon Euphoria. Christ. My 3 lost toenails haven’t even grown back yet. 

I can do anything! Weeeee!

Uh.
Yeah.

Right now I’m not even sure I can walk in the kitchen to pour myself another glass of White Bordeaux, let alone run 30 or so miles on trails, up a mountain and back down again.  My First Ultra Marathon. And it’s in The Green Mountain State. I’m exhausted. And nervous.

Honestly? I’m feeling pretty decent about my training. How I’ll feel on race day is another issue entirely. I’m tired and my legs feel like ambrosia, so I must be doing something right. I did get a new pair of kicks which I am really loving. Purple Pearl Izumi’s. So damn snazzy! I have run a bunch of trail runs in them so far. However, I am holding off giving then “Colby’s Seal of Approval” until after this weekend. My 7 toe-nailed paws are crossed for a good long run. I think I’ll feel better after that. In fact, I am sure I will.

Come on Confidence!

I mean after Champagne and Hill Repeats this week and then the Bomb that was Hello Liar Hello Kitty, there is no place to go but up!

Do you have a favorite trail running sneaker? Will you ever look at Hello Kitty the same way again? White, Red or Rosé? Go!

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Champagne and Hill Repeats. Or Things Not To Do. Ever.

Let’s see. Do I start with the Mexican Food I had for lunch? Or the glass of Champagne I had following it? {Note: Champs and beans do NOT mix. Tequila exists for a reason.} Or that I switched Hill Repeat Wednesday to Hill Repeat Tuesday because it was supposed to be Death Valley hot on Wednesday? Screw it. I’ll just start.

It sucked.

And I only have myself to blame. It’s because I was being polite. (And I love Champagne, but I digress.) We had a Celebration at work and because I am a Team Player, I imbibed. Yes. I swilled Champagne just before hazy, hot, humid hill repeats. Bart Yasso would never recommend doing such a thing. I got caught up in all the fun. Goddamn peer pressure.

Mid-swill it dawned on me.
Hills.

Home. Laced up and ready to run. I head out. 1.5 mile warm up. I am instantly brimming with regret. And cilantro. I’m dying already. I can feel it. I am acutely aware of the angry Mexican in my gut. He is wearing a beret and swearing in Span-çaise. He is clearly NOT up for this. I’m at the base of the hill. I look at my Garmin, kick myself in the ass, and sprint off.

400m STEEP repeats TIMES 8.

Do I need to go on? Every step. Every belch. Every ounce of sweat. Punishment. It was full on Sufferfest. The only highlight was a very peppy girl running downhill who high-fived me on the way up.

She yells: GET IT GIRL! EAT THAT HILL!
I manage to croak: BEANS.
And I drag my pathetic ass up. I’m trying to eat that hill. Only it’s tough with a belly full of beans steeping in bubbly.

She did make me snap out of my Champagne-Mexi-coma though. I love a high-five from a Random Runner. Best thing ever.

I almost quit before the eighth one, but thought better. I knew I would have been even more disgusted with myself. So I mopped the sweat off of my brow and launched up. Wouldn’t you know it. My fastest one.

Who knew Champs and Beans were Super Foods? I’m calling Bart.

Have you ever had a fellow runner high-five you on a run? Do you Drink and Run? Best Take-Out: Mexican, Chinese or Thai? Go!

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Turn on Your Heart Light

 

Just saw that Colby graded her blogging in recent days with a “See Me.” I don’t even think the teacher would want to see me. I expect a note in my box asking me to withdraw. Where have we been?  Where do the days go???

I think I'm dating myself here. But it's a classic! Turn on your heart light!

I think I’m dating myself here. But it’s a classic! Turn on your heart light!

 

I got a heartrate monitor for my birthday this year, and like the Garmin I received last year, it’s been a blessing and a curse.

Blessing: it’s cool and useful and I think it will help improve my running.

Curse: Like my dear frenemy, the Garmin, it doesn’t hesitate to tell me I’ve been doing this running thing all wrong.

Ugh.

I hate doing things wrong.

I always suspected that I ran too fast on regular runs, but it was easier to ignore when I didn’t have an absurdly high heartrate number staring me in the face. My friend Laurie had been hinting for a while that she thought I was probably running too fast too often and overstressing my body in the process. She’s a lifelong triathlete and studying to be a nurse, so when she says something about training, it’s worth a listen.

I don’t know how many of you train using a heartrate monitor, but the general gist is this: if you run at a pace that overexerts your heart too often, you will risk injury and burnout. I have been very lucky in avoiding injuries (knock wood) and I don’t think I’ve ever had runner’s burnout, BUT, but I did feel incredibly wiped out a lot last year when I trained for the Marine Corps Marathon. I could manage, but still – I was pretty tuckered. Maybe that was burnout? Mentally I felt fine. I dunno.

My life is A LOT busier this year than last fall – work is busier, my kids are busier, everything is busier. I want to be able to do everything and enjoy everything without feeling wrecked while I train for the Philly Marathon on November 23. I figured I would give training in my proper heartrate zones a try to see if I can train in a way that allows for proper recovery, etc.

I don’t have high expectations for my performance at Philly anyway –particularly since I’m doing the Fenway Spartan the week before, which is not the number 1, or even number 100, recommended activity during the taper. Stupid, I know, but there’s no way I’m missing the Fenway Spartan!!! I figured it was worth a shot to mix things up a bit now with my monitor and see how heartrate training goes. If it screws me up, I’ll train differently for the next marathon.

What I realized from just a few test runs with the monitor is that I never really ran recovery runs before. Ever. My heartrate was at the same level whether I ran long, short, mid or recovery. That’s not good and does nothing to improve performance. When I ran “easy,” recovery runs, I did run short. But I still ran too fast and too hard. That’s not a recovery run at all. Those are just junk miles.

This is pretty much how I ran my recovery runs. TIP: Don't do this.

This is pretty much how I ran my recovery runs. TIP: Don’t do this.

I have run 49 miles in the last 8 days, attempting to control my heartrate for each run – checking my Garmin obsessively and staying at or below the low 150’s as much as possible. It can be frustratingly slow, but I’m already getting better at managing my heartrate – yesterday I ran 13 and I never saw anything above 155. And you know what? I felt great afterward. I didn’t feel like I had run 13 miles. Or many miles in the preceding 7 days. Other than tired legs, I felt fine, and still do today. NO exhaustion, no fuzzy head, no overall weariness. Today, I ran a 3.5 mile real recovery run at a slow pace, and feel terrific. I’m going to keep going with this for a while and see if I continue to feel so good.

This is what goes through my mind during my runs now...

This is what goes through my mind during my runs now…

The super slow pacing is annoying, but I am going to try and stick it out. Laurie suggested doing all runs at the lower heartrate for a few weeks, and then working back in some harder and faster runs. I figure it is worth a shot. I have that stupid monitor, after all.

Who else trains with a heart rate monitor? Any tips? Success stories? Things to watch out for?

The Sunday Six.

If I was graded on my blogging this week, I would have gotta big red “See Me” written at the top of the paper. Poor. The week flew by and now here I am, sitting on my couch, watching Nicki Minaj and Her Ass “sing” at the VMAs.

I can’t.

no

So instead, somewhere between Lorde talking to the wrong camera, Madame Tussaud’s wax Kim Kardashian, Miley’s PSA, Taylor Swift’s Red Carpet onesie and the incessant twerking, I came up with The Sunday Six. Or, Six Things that Occurred to Colby This Week. Or actually happened. Or crossed my mind. Whatevs.

Original, huh?

1. Trail Running has made me a Chicken Shit. Every crack. Every crunch. Every stick that looks like a snake. All scare the snot out of me. Creepy guys, strolling slowly along, alone in the woods FREAK ME OUT. I need a running buddy or a big vicious dog. Or minimally a handful of Xanax. The good thing is that it’s making me run faster. The bad thing is that I feel like some chick in a horror movie who runs up the stairs into the woods when she should get the f*ck out of there.

2. Hill repeats, as much as I dread them each damn week, are working. There. I said it. They are making me stronger. And tougher. And surprisingly, far more determined than I have ever been. Why this is the first time I have “officially” made them a part of my training is beyond me. Live and learn, Colby. Live and learn.

3. I FINALLY ran fast!!!!! cat jumpAnd by fast I mean negative-split-sub-8-minute-miles-for-8-miles-on tired legs-fast! I was thrilled. For me, the day after hill repeats? I might as well have won GOLD. I might also have blown kisses to my fans in the driveway too. Just being honest.

4. I ran 20 miles and realized that I need to start training my mind a little bit more than my legs at this point. Can my head do hill repeats? Fartleks? Anything? I need to start BELIEVING that I can run a 50k trail race. I am nervous. And I need to knock it off if I’m going to finish this bitch. My goal is to finish. With dignity. Anything more is all gravy.

5. I love watching My Other Half race cyclocross. Cyclocross is badass. Full tilt the whole time. Loosely, it’s like steeplechase on a bike. Sort of. Technical riding off road, hills, off camber, lots of switchbacks, hopping over barriers, running stairs then riding again. As fast as you can. This weekend officially kicked off our cyclocross season. I say “Our” loosely. He races. I cheer wildly, get nervous, freak out, ring cowbells and drink beer. I figure my job is tougher. Better him, than me. I’ve got my own crosses to bear. See what I just did there?

6. I have Super Talented Friends. My friend Craig is both insanely thoughtful and incredibly talented. He sent me this after the PMC:pmc portfoleyo designs IIHOW DOPE IS THAT?!??  Such a fantastic surprise. Oh, that’s me alright! That’s me riding the PMC wave complete with snorkel, life jacket, ribbons and smile. He saw my selfies and posts about this years’ wet ride and whipped up this awesome cartoon. He nailed it. I love his take on me and my obviously strong glutes.

All I know is Nicki Minaj better back it up.

Do you ever freak yourself out while trail running? Do you run alone, with a Run Buddy or a vicious attack dog? Do you want a fabulous cartoon of yourself? Drop me a line. I’ll put you in touch with Craig!

Prancercise, Part Deux.

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Girlfriend is back. And I am elated.

And after the shit ass Monday I had, I couldn’t have been happier to see her sassy prancey self. Why is it that the day back from a fantastic, sun drenched, do-good vacation, you wind up getting shanked the moment you set one tan paw back into work? Thank heavens for The Prancercise Lady (née Joanna Rorhback). She’s back with a new vid. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. In case you’re NOT one of the 10,000,000+ individuals who peeped her first YouTube video, I’ll enlighten you. What is Prancercise you ask?

Prancercise® is defined as: A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward,similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation. “This form of movement, along with dietary and spiritual principles can create the most satisfying, holistic and successful fitness program one could hope to experience. I encourage anyone who is ready for a huge change in their lives, from the way they see the world, to the way they see themselves to explore the principles inherent in this program, especially as outlined in my book : Prancercise®:The Art of Physical and Spiritual Excellence.”

Joanna Rohrback, B.H.S. Owner/MGR.M of Prancercise LLC

Move like a springy, elated horse?!?!? Sign. Me. Up. Maybe my trail running would improve if I embodied the Principles of Prancercise. I’d better get on it. The VT50 is mere WEEKS away. 50k in 50 days. {Fans self with iPad.} And not for nothing, BRAVO to the Prancercise Lady for putting it out there. She’s moving alright! Like a goddamn philly!

I wish I had seen this video earlier. I woulda just Prancercised Monday away.

How was your Monday? Thoughts on Prancercise? Have you gotten shanked your first day back from vacation?

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

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As I start writing thank-you notes to my sponsors for the PMC, I can’t help but think of all of the other people that deserve my thanks for helping me complete the ride. A ride like this definitely takes a village, and, in addition to my wonderful and generous sponsors, I want to take a moment to thank some of my fellow villagers….

1. The PMC Organizers, for putting together such an amazing and well-organized event. I remain in awe at how they are able to put together such a large-scale event so seamlessly. The Sturbridge-Provincetown route alone requires 3 separate athletes’ villages, 9 different water stops and ongoing road assistance along the entire 190 mile route. All of it was well-run and organized. The logistics crew at Sochi should have given them a buzz prior to the 2014 Olympics. Seriously.

2. The PMC Volunteers, for helping to make everything run so smoothly, for anticipating our every need and fulfilling ones we didn’t even realize we had. There was even a gentleman at one water stop who was wiping off rain-spattered glasses for people. Each of these unpaid volunteers spent hours in a freezing rain, providing services with the dedication of a 5-star hotel manager and the smile of an angel.

3. The PMC Road Crew that Fixed my Flat Tire at Mile 8. And the rider behind me who pointed it out to me as soon as it happened, so I could pull over carefully and safely. Yes, Day 1 got off to a rough start for me in ways that didn’t involve the bad weather. Fortunately, I wasn’t going that fast when my tire blew, and it was a relatively easy fix.

4. The Police Officer at Mile 8 who Rode His Motorcycle to Flag Down the PMC Road Crew that Fixed My Flat Tire at Mile 8. PMC Road Crews patrol the entire route, but depending on where you are, it can be a wait before one arrives. I am so grateful to the police officer who saw me by the side of the road and rode back up the route to find a road crew to come help me. I had already been waiting a little bit and was getting colder and wetter and colder by the minute…

5. The PMC Road Crew that Fixed my Broken Brake at Mile 9. Ugh…I went less than a mile after having my tire fixed before the cable on my rear brake popped out. On a big, scary, wet downhill (Holee Crap! I hope my blood pressure returns to normal sometime this calendar year). Fortunately, a PMC Road Crew was just around the corner and had me back on the road in no time.

6. Chrissy. Angel Chrissy, who waited in the rain at the first water stop for an extra 40 minutes after the rest of my group left to make sure I got there ok. My two mishaps had set me waaaaay back from the pack, and I didn’t think anyone would be left at the water stop when I got there. I teared up when I saw Chrissy waiting and waving at the entrance. The second I dismounted, she ran over and gave me a huge hug, which is exactly what I needed at that moment. Chrissy is the person who got everyone in our group involved in the PMC and she remains a ballast for all of us during the event. It doesn’t matter if she is pregnant, busy with babies, busy with toddlers, working, studying – no matter what is going on in her life, if she can’t ride in the PMC, she is there to meet us and cheer us on at the opening event and at the first water stop. She’s a wonderful person and such an incredible, steady source of support.

7. Dawn. I knew that Dawn, Colby’s high school friend, was coming to the lunch stop, and could not wait to meet her. I was afraid that my setbacks in the morning might mean that I would miss her, though, so I broke some land-speed records (ok, at least my own land speed records, which are not that impressive, but still) pedaling my heart out to get there in time. Thank you, Dawn, for giving me a short-term goal to keep me moving and for letting me see what I can do on the bike when I’m properly motivated. And it was so great to meet you!!!

8. The Spectators. It continues to amaze me how many people come out to cheer us on. It makes such a difference to have the cheers along the route, and I am so grateful to each of you for taking time out of your summer weekend to support us.

9. My Brother, Michael, for beating the crap out of me on an almost-daily basis when I was a kid. It was great mental and physical preparation for riding 110 miles in a cold rain. Don’t think I could have done it without you. Thank you also for growing up to be one of the nicest, gentlest adults I know.

10. My Kids, for insisting that we buy a super-warm sleeping bag even though “camping” for us is staying in a hotel with no room service (I don’t do The Great Outdoors. Colby is our resident trail runner. I’d rather run an ultra through rush hour traffic in NYC. Dodging cars, muggers and exhaust? Not a problem. Just keep me away from bugs, critters and rash-causing plants. ). I packed the super-warm sleeping bag for the overnight between Day 1 and Day 2 and wrapped up in it for a long while after finishing the Day 1 ride. It helped bring circulation back to my freezing extremities, color to my face, and probably kept me from developing hypothermia (only a slight exaggeration).

11. Colby, who, after seeing my blue lips and white hands and feet INSISTED that I hop in the shower first to warm up, even though she was soaked and freezing as well. Now, THAT’S a true friend.

12. Mother Nature, for getting her act together for Day 2 and giving us cool and cloudy, with only a slight drizzle here and there. Because seriously, I don’t think we could take another soaking, freezing day like Day 1. Well, of course we would have done a repeat of Day 1 if we had to. But I’m sure glad we didn’t have to.

13. The People Whose Names I Wore on My Shirt. Because when the going got tough, I thought of each and every one of you, and the battles you have faced with such courage, and I felt a burst of awe, love, pride, inspiration, perspective and much-needed adrenaline. And knew I could finish, no matter what came my way. I knew the rain would eventually go away. Just as, I hope, someday cancer will.

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A Decade of Riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge. A Lifetime of Lessons Learned.

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A week ago I rode My Cancer Fighting Bike, in my 10th consecutive Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. Ten years. In a row. I am proud of that. Very proud.

Not proud that I have ridden thousands of miles.

Not proud of the training endured each and every year.

Not proud of hooking up My Bike to the trainer and spinning in the living room because it was too dark to get a decent ride in after a long day at work.

It’s not about the athletic achievement. Strange, but true.

The PMC is not about Me.
And that’s the beauty of it.

In the 10 years I have ridden, I have learned more about the human spirit than I ever thought possible. I have learned that people are at their very best when they’re doing something selfless.

And that is beautiful.

I have learned how riding in the PMC means more to the 100s upon 100s of people lining the streets along the route, than it ever will to me. And that’s saying a lot. Strangers. Clapping and cheering. And thanking me. Thanking ME. Over and over. In the pouring rain. In the extreme heat. Over and over. Thank you. Every year for 10 years. Some of the faces are the same. Some are new. All are grateful.

I am here, because of you.

To hear that. To see the look on their face, as they tell you that. Thanking you. With their whole heart. Sincere. Genuine. Pure. It means everything. Everything all at once. And it continues to overwhelm me. Year after year.

Here’s the thing: I believe them. We are making a difference. A real, life-saving, cancer fighting difference. They are living proof.

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I have learned that the most generous of people are the ones you barely know. But who know you. And believe in what you are doing. They move me to the core.

I have learned that people who volunteer their time at the PMC have a tougher job than any cyclist riding. They are kind, patient individuals who smile with their heart. Angels. All of them.

I have learned that the smallest of gestures, gestures requiring the most minimal of time, are the most profound. A kind word. A ribbon remembering a loved one, honoring their fight. A quick note saying, “I will be thinking of you this weekend” means the world to people. Find the time. You are not that busy. It’s worth it.

I am proud to be a part of the Pan-Mass Community. So proud. It has become a part of who I am. It has woven itself into the very fabric of my being. I feel like for one weekend a year, I am a part of something great. Really great. Impactful. To be surrounded by people doing the same is inspiring beyond words. I am finding, as the years go by, that the PMC feeling stays with me longer and longer each year. It changes your perspective. Your focus becomes on what is truly important in life. And isn’t that wonderful?

The PMC isn’t about me. But by accident, I have become a better human being because of it.

Here’s to the next 10 years.

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Fleeting

The Post Pan-Mass Challenge Blues are settling in. Funny how that happens every year. It’s like I want to harness every feeling, every selfless moment and bottle it up to occasionally huff from throughout the year. All I’d need is a whiff of the PMC experience to put life all in perspective. Get some clarity. Remember what’s important.

As Tina pointed out, there is a Secret of the PMC. I loved her post. You can read it here. We had such an amazing experience. She certainly captured the PMC’s essence. I love that she and I do this together. I’ll write about my 10th PMC experience later this week. I’m lettin’ it all soak in.

Right now? My Other Half and I are firmly planted on a beautiful beach in Wellfleet, recovering from a nice, hot, hilly run (Me) and insane intervals on the bike (Him). Sporty Couple Alert! It’s Beach Blogging Bingo all up in here! I’m cracking up. I’m also giving my lunchtime burrito the stink eye. And my sunblock. And my new Runner’s World. I’ve got relaxing to do, People. So for now, here’s Colby’s Morning in Wellfleet. From Farmer’s Market to morning run, a beautiful day in Wellfleet.

Bring on the rest of our vacation!

Unplugging in 3-2-1….. :-)

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The Secret of the Pan Mass Challenge

Well, now I guess we can call it the worst kept secret of the Pan Mass Challenge: The riders get as much – or more – out of it as anyone else.

Yeah, you read that right. 190 miles in the saddle. Sore backs, sore legs, tense arms, and sore rear ends (that all the chamois butter in the world can’t soothe). Callouses, blisters, chafing, swelling and abrasions. Some years, a flirtation with heatstroke (not 2014). Miles under a relentless sun (also not 2014). Others, a battle with torrential rain and a brush with hypothermia (Ding! Ding! Ding! That would be PMC 2014!).

But none of it matters. None of it.

Because for two days, for the small price of the above, you get to see the best – THE ABSOLUTE BEST – that humanity has to offer. I guess (though doubt) that it is possible that the people who ride in and volunteer at the PMC might be absolute jerks for the other 363 days of the year, but for those two golden days, they are: Selfless. Loving. Reflective. Caring. Friendly. Emotional. Open. Thoughtful. Committed.

And it doesn’t stop with those who are directly affiliated with the PMC. All along the 190 mile route, there are people who come out to support the riders.

At 6 AM.

Through late afternoon.

With cowbells, kazoos, bullhorns, Gatorade, water, bubbles, costumes, bagpipes, percussion bands, food, lollipops, twizzlers, pompoms, music, signs and words of support. And Thanks. So, so many thanks.

I saw people standing in the pouring – AND I MEAN POURING – rain along some roads on Day 1 just to point out potholes to riders so they could avoid them. And in the last miles of the Day 1 route – when the going had gotten tough, and in many ways, stayed tough, for miles and miles and miles, what did I see? A man, standing in the pouring rain – no hat, no umbrella – saluting the riders as they passed. Just standing there, rain pouring over him, with a perpetual salute. I didn’t pedal that last stretch to mile 110 on Saturday. No.  I floated those last few miles, on air and a limitless supply of tears.

So that is the real secret of the Pan Mass Challenge. For the price of some discomfort, you are given the opportunity to live in a loving, caring supportive world for two days. To see what life is truly like when people come together for a common cause and forget about themselves for a little while. Such a small, small price to pay for such an amazing experience.

It’s no wonder that riders and volunteers come back. Year after year.

It’s no wonder that almost every picture from the PMC shows a rider or volunteer with a smile on their face.

Between the 5500+ riders, the 3000+ volunteers and then the countless supporters along the route, you realize two very important – and uplifting – things that stick with you long after the muscles have recovered, the wounds have healed, and the soreness is a distant memory.

One: There is still a lot of love and caring in this world. There is still so much good that people have – and want – to offer, even though we can’t always see it.

Two: we’re all in this together.

It might take time – it will take time – but with commitment like this?

Cancer Doesn’t Stand a Chance.

31 Reasons

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The race is not to the swift, but to those who keep on running…

In 2 days time, Tina and I will embark on a cancer fighting odyssey across the state of Massachusetts- The Pan-Massachusetts Challenge. I simply can’t wait. It’s my favorite weekend of the year. Always has been. A beautiful, selfless weekend. That’s the best kind of weekend if you ask me.

Tonight, as has become a 10 year tradition, I made ribbons, together with my Mom, honoring those who have lived strong and those who, in the face of cancer, continue to do so every day. They will ride with me this weekend. I will carry them on my back. Each mile, every pedal stroke we’ll ride as one.

Each year my list grows.
And grows.
As the ages get younger.
And younger.

My heart just breaks.
Into 31 pieces.

This is why I ride.

Xoxo,
Colby