A little over a week ago, I took my 5th “long” training ride for the Pan Mass Challenge. This ride was my longest ride – 63 miles. And it was a particularly hilly route. The vast majority of roads I traveled had the word “hill” in their name – Kellogg Hill, Good Hill, Sport Hill, Hill Farm, Steep Hill, HIllspoint, Fanton Hill….you get the point. I’d love to take a long ride in an area with road names like “Endless Plains” and “Long Flats,” but they don’t seem to exist around here. Perhaps next year I’ll do my training in Kansas.
The ride was hot – I took it 2 days before the heatwave broke, so it was hot & steamy the whole way. I drank 40 ounces of water & sports drink before I left, consumed an additional 68 ounces of water & sports drink on my ride, and returned home thirsty. Didn’t even have to stop to use a bathroom once (TMI, I know. Sorry. But it says a lot.). That’s hot.
I gotta say, though, biking in the heat is a whole different animal from running in the heat. No matter how hot or tired I was on my ride, I never had the feeling that I couldn’t keep going. The breeze generated by my very riding was enough to make me feel ok throughout. Running, on the other hand – ugh. If I attempt a long run in the kind of heatwave we were suffering, I would have felt dizzy, weak and probably would have hallucinated about crawling under a bush for a nap. If this adventure has taught me nothing else, it has certainly cemented cycling as my “go-to” exercise when it is hot and sticky out.
This ride was dedicated to my long-time friend, Jodi. Jodi was one of the law firm associates who mentored my husband (then boyfriend) during a summer internship 18 years ago. They hit it off, we hit it off, and we have been friends ever since. I feel so lucky that we met him. He truly is one of a kind.
Last year, Jodi was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer. I’m intentionally going light on the details here, because I am not confident that I know or understand all of them, and I’d rather omit than write something inaccurate. What I do know is that he has been in intense treatment since last fall, hoping to shrink a tumor enough so that they can surgically remove it and then continue treatment on from there. I know that it has been a rough, difficult and sometimes disheartening road for him so far. I also know that he has continued on through the process with the grace, dignity and positive outlook that I have seen in him since I met him in 1995.
Jodi is one of the nicest people I know. And that is saying something, because I like to think I know a lot of nice people. I feel like he is the type of man that “they don’t make anymore.” Or at least make enough of. He is smart and generous. He is a wonderful friend, husband and father. He works hard – and has even continued to work hard throughout his treatment, and unlike 90% of the lawyers I know, he never complains about work. He has better stuff to talk about.
I have one memory that tells a lot about Jodi. When he was a single twentysomething, his college roommate and his wife had a baby. A very, very colicky baby. They were the first in their group to have a baby, so I’m sure they did not have a long list of people to call for advice on how to handle a baby that cried and cried and cried. And cried. All. The. Time. Jodi didn’t have a girlfriend at that point, let alone a child. And yet, he knew what to do. He went to their house for a visit one Saturday (after putting in a 60 hour workweek, I’m sure) and told them to leave. Without the baby. He stayed with the crying, colicky baby for several hours while they went out into the world that they had missed so much and got a break. Jodi intuitively knew what a new parent of a difficult baby needs and gave it to them, even though I’m sure it wasn’t easy on him. That’s Jodi. Thoughtful, generous, selfless, kind. I feel so lucky to know him.
So, this difficult ride was for someone who continues to be on a difficult journey. Jodi, I am so glad that you are here and continue to pray for you. I wish I was able to write this dedication to you as a survivor, not a patient. And next year, I plan to do exactly that.