Back in the Saddle Again

40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour, New York City

40 Miles
5 Boros [Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island]
4 Bridges [The Madison Avenue Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Pulaski Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge]
1 Day
0 Cars
32,000 Cyclists From 43 Countries
Bib #10492

For the past 40 years on the first Sunday in May, riders from every state in the nation and around the world descend upon NYC for a bicycling experience unlike any other, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. I found out about the event through my friend Marisa’s Facebook post. Intrigued, I looked it up online and immediately registered for the event after reading the description!

I completed some Spartan challenges, 5K, and 10K races, but never a bike race. This event went beyond the first-time aspect for me. Last summer, on June 29, I flipped off my bicycle and was pinned under it when I hit a camouflaged raised gravel section on a path. I got major road rash down the entire right side of my body and broke my right wrist. A kindhearted stranger named Gigi picked me up and took me to an Urgent Care. In July, I was put back together by Dr. Daniel Laino, who permanently screwed a titanium plate to my wrist. I then attended regular Occupational Therapy sessions with Karen Popovich, an amazing certified hand specialist at Ortho Virginia.

In February of that same year, I had half of my body cut open for another surgery. I was determined to make a comeback from these two surgeries instead of allowing them to bring me down. I set three major fitness goals for 2017. It seemed fitting that the first event involved cycling. My family and friends were not thrilled by this news, but they supported me none the less because THEY ARE AWESOME. I trained the best I could leading up to the race, fitting short and long bike rides in whenever possible. I also kept up on all the Bike New York Facebook posts and email updates.

I was very nervous going into the event. I had just passed the one-year mark for the first surgery and it had only been 10 months since my wrist surgery. Was I in over my head? Would it be painful? Would I be able to successfully complete all 40 miles?

No. A little. Yes!

I was placed in the first wave of cyclists, which was ideal. I could feel my body shaking as I approached the starting location. I asked a stranger in front of me named Alyssa to take a photo of me for posterity because I’m horrible at selfies. We started sharing brief background stories and the conversation helped to put me at ease. It was Alyssa’s second time doing the bike event. She turned out to be one the coolest people I have ever met! We stuck with each other throughout the race and she would give me heads-ups about what was coming. Aware of my health journey, the fact that it was my first bike race, and my first visit to NYC outside of the Times Square area, Alyssa insisted that I stop at a few key points to take photos for my Instagram scrapbook.

My goal for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour was just to complete it. Although in my mind, I hoped to do it in four to five hours. I am proud to share that I completed it in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

No one is truly an island unto themselves on the path to success. These names may not resonate with you, but I could not achieve my goals without the emotional and financial support of Alicia, Jenny, Rita, Gigi, Aunt Linda, Gina, Chad, Beverly, Lito, Angela, Marisa, Tonya, Linda, Robert, John, Melissa, Kim and my first-ever business sponsors OrthoVirginia and Flyte Fitness. THANK YOU for believing in me!

Event Fun Facts:

  • You are required by law to use a bike bell when riding in NYC.
  • Whenever we crossed into a borough people from that area would shout with pride,”What up Brooklyn!”, etc.  Alyssa is from Queens, so when we approached her borough I joined her in an enthusiastic shout-out.
  • People would yell and point “water bottle”, “bike chain” “pothole” in an effort to save someone from getting into an accident. Surprisingly, there were a lot of random water bottles scattered along the route. A seasoned racer told me that it’s common for people to knock their water bottles out of the holders.

The second major fitness goal I set for the year is fast approaching. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first Full Tough Mudder taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, the weekend of June 17!

OrthoVa_horizontal copy

Tote-Worthy

galotgo_bag

Get your very own limited edition #galOTgo reusable tote bag for only $10 (+shipping for out-of-state)! It’s the hottest accessory this spring/summer!  😉  I am selling the bags to raise funds for big races I am participating in as part of my healthy comeback, and to promote women to live fearless lives through my galOTgo brand!

I was training for a Spartan Trifecta weekend, then, in 2016, things took a turn and I underwent two major surgeries that caused me limited mobility. I felt helpless and depressed. My best friend Jenny encouraged me to turn my mindset around by setting new physical goals. I picked three major races to focus on and have worked very hard to rebuild my strength and mobility through occupational therapy and yoga classes. I found mental strength along the way through my community who are pillars of support and keep me motivated.

The classic black tote has the hashtag on one side and makes for a fun conversation piece as people try to decode it like a personalized license plate. The bag is 12×12.75×8 with an 18″ carry strap and removable plastic bottom insert. The bag is great for:

  • workout clothes
  • beach gear
  • diaper bag items
  • shoes
  • groceries
  • and more!

I keep reusable bags in the trunk of my car and on my coat rack at home for use on the go!

NOTE: If you are local I will deliver bags to you directly; if you live outside of the Northern Virginia area I will ship bags to you. To place an order, please email me at galOTgo@gmail.com

Thank you!

Unexpected Inspiration

Power Your Happy

My good friend Chhayal randomly sent me a book in the mail because she was thinking of me. Yes, I am lucky to have such a friend! The book she gave me titled Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar is autographed. Bonus! I have a treasured autographed books collection. I know, e-books are convenient, etc., but there’s something special about a hardcover book. I scanned the teaser on the back of the book and was intrigued to start reading it. I began with the Introduction and related to the content so strongly, that I was unable to put the book down! 2016 was a bummer of a year, to say the least having two significant surgeries. Friends recommended a variety of uplifting books for me to read, but I just wasn’t in the mood or open to sunshine and rainbows subject matter. I am not sure if it was the topic of the book, timing or a combination, but I am very happy that I didn’t set it aside. Lisa’s words sparked a fire in me! I readjusted both my personal and career goals, and I now have a fresh outlook and plans for how to achieve these new goals. I didn’t want to mark the book with a highlighter since it’s autographed, so I tabbed all my favorite parts. As you can see from the photo, there are A LOT of tabs!

I recommend you buy and read Power Your Happy, but here are a few excerpts…

“…what you find yourself doing in your spare time is the passion you should pursue. Don’t decide what you want to do with your life; let your life tell you what your path is.”
[This statement helped to take the pressure off the question family and friends frequently ask me — what is my dream job? — by shifting my focus on my passions as a guide to the answer instead of an overwhelming black hole of possibilities.]

“S*** happens — to everyone! You don’t deserve special treatment because you are having a bad day. … It’s how you grow from these catastrophes, big and small, that shape you into who you become.”
[Reading this tough love statement helped me snap out of my pity party.]

“May we walk forward with compassion in our hearts and may we replace jealously with joy. And at the end of the day, always remember that all that you need is vision to see where you are going, strength to get you there, and faith that you will end up exactly where you deserve to be.” – Ian McAndrew, Lisa’s SoulCycle instructor

‘Burst’ing With Talent

My friend Jaxon made a bold move to follow his passion and change careers from working in a cube to working behind a camera. I participated in the fitness section of his portfolio. It was a blast! Photos by Kelohimography

“Don’t let a win go to your head, or a loss go to your heart. Keep the faith and trust in the process, put the work in and your time will come.” – Brooks Laich (my fav athlete because of his talent as a hockey player and his life values)

Thank You for Rooting for Me

I am sad to share that the Spartan organization contacted me to say that Spartan Race Cuba for March is canceled.

cuba

I remain hopeful that October is a genuine possibility. I have been training hard for months, even on days when I was in pain recovering from my surgeries and felt like I physically couldn’t do it. Every time I am out training I do my best to give 110%, drawing motivation from the incredible people who have been supporting me along the way.

I am not sure I believe the reason their government gave Spartan, especially given the current state of our nation. Politics aside, I did what I know best when faced with things out of my control, and adjusted my goals … again.

Here is my new race schedule for 2017… (Note to My Financial Donors: The registration and travel are booked for these races, so they are a definite go!)

40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour
May 7, NYC

  • On the first Sunday in May, 32,000 cyclists from around the world come together to ride 40 miles through every borough of NYC on streets closed off to cars. It is the largest charitable bike ride in the US, with proceeds funding New York’s free bike education programs.

Tough Mudder Whistler
June 17, Whistler, BC

  • Whistler, BC, is very special to me because it is where I worked in 2010 for the Paralympic Winter Games. It was a life-changing experience, and I cannot wait to return to the area!

VA Momentun SUPTri
July 29, Bridgewater, VA

  • A unique multi-sport event that replaces the traditional swim portion of a Tri race with Stand Up Paddleboarding! The Tri starts with a one-mile paddleboard section in the North River in Bridgewater, followed by a 19-mile bike through the countryside, and finishes with a technical four-mile run on hilly terrain at the Valley Pike Farm Market.

Spartan Cuba
October ?, Havana, Cuba

I will continue to train and keep you updated along the way as I tackle these goals!

I am VERY GRATEFUL to my financial sponsors like OrthoVirginia, Rita Rich, Jenny Hogan, Alicia Kenney, Robert Brown, Gina Galli, Linda Barefoot, Marisa Palumbo, Beverly Marsters, Gigi Guzman, Tonya Harris, Angela Manning and Lito Velandria; and my product sponsor Flyte Fitness. I am also thankful to those who reached out to me in written support. ALL OF YOU ROCK! My GoFundMe account is open for anyone who would still like to make a donation to me toward the other two races.

We Be Jammin’

I read about a fun monthly event called Jammin’ Yoga and tried to buy a ticket for the December class, but it was sold out. So I signed up for the next session in January. The one-hour classes held at Jammin’ Java, a music venue, are free with a suggested donation of $10 to reserve a spot. Proceeds from the event benefit Music Makes Life Better. Daniel Brindley, one of three brothers who own Jammin’ Java, is the brainchild behind the event. Daniel started practicing yoga last year and he enjoyed it so much, that he wanted to share his passion for it with the community. A different instructor from Down Dog Yoga teaches the class every month. I was fortunate to attend a session led by Patty Ivey, a highly respected yogi and the owner of Down Dog Yoga. Patty has a loyal following and the venue was packed! I arrived early and secured a prime spot in the center of the second row. At the start of the class, Patty shared that she was a traditionalist and that it was her first time using music!!! She put together a great music mix and the crowd energetically flowed through each position. The class went by fast and was a good workout. I look forward to taking another Jammin’ Yoga class again sometime.

Yoga + Music + Supporting a Non-Profit = FUN