Going With the Flow

Mask I custom made with logo permission from Roswell so I can continue to promote ESR.

Life is a series of changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. – Lao Tzu

I am bummed to share the news that the Empire State Ride (ESR) is called off this year.

I support ESR creator, Terry Bourgeois’, decision to cancel the cross-state ride in July. It was the responsible choice given the New York locations, the number of riders involved, and the proximity we would all be during meals, tent lodging at night, etc. However, I cannot deny the fact that I am very disheartened by the news.

I enthusiastically signed up for ESR20 on November 13, 2019, and my devotion has never wavered! I passionately pursued my vowed fundraising minimum of $3,500, which has been a huge challenge under COVID-19 circumstances, and I will continue my efforts. Raising funds for cancer research is something I believe in deeply. If you follow my blog, you know that losing my friend Beth to cancer in March kicked my spirit and booty into high gear, both literally and figuratively.

ESR registration for all road warriors was deferred to 2021, so my goals to ride 500-miles across the state of NY and raise funds for cancer are not over, but merely postponed! I am beyond grateful to all of you who made donations and to those of you who I hope will make donations as I continue my cancer research fundraising quest into 2021. When I commit to a cause, I DO NOT QUIT! In the words of ESR… Cancer isn’t stopping. So we can’t either.

___________

Organizers of the Empire State Ride sent us the following announcement… [I am sharing it with you, my amazing donors and supporters so that you know your money is still going to cancer research as initially intended, just without the ride event this year.]

When you’re riding a bike and approach a hill, what do you do? You shift gears to accommodate the terrain, which allows you to continue to the next leg of your journey. You adapt to conquer your challenge.

Well, this year, COVID-19 is our challenge. And to overcome it, we have to shift gears on the Empire State Ride.

Unfortunately, our week-long adventure cannot take place as it usually does. But our road warriors can still make an impact on the future of cancer research.

As a safer alternative, from July 1 until August 1, we are asking our road warriors to cycle 500+ miles any way they’d like.

The funds you have raised so far are critical to advancing cancer research and are already hard at work. We know you worked hard to fundraise this year and want you to continue your #ESR20 efforts. That’s why whatever fundraising amount you achieve by August 31, will boost your #ESR21 fundraising efforts.

The donations you raise for the Empire State Ride this year will support the most promising, cutting-edge research globally, and at Roswell Park — immunotherapy. It’s the future of cancer treatment, and Roswell Park researchers are leading the way in developing these new therapies that help our immune systems fight and kill cancer. They’re our best hope for saving more lives.

The 500+ Mile Challenge

Even though we can’t gather, we are still determined to make this summer impactful and fun for all our registered road warriors. We can ride 500+ miles throughout July outdoors or indoors on your bike trainer. We will track everyone’s mileage via our Strava Club.

RIDE ON!

Fine Line Between Fact and Fiction With Author Samantha Mina

Samantha Mina | Facebook: @SpectrumNovelSeries

Meet Samantha Mina, a young adult dystopian sci-fi/fantasy book series author and “American Fiction Awards” finalist. I randomly crossed paths with Samantha last week when I stopped into Barnes & Noble in Fairfax, Va. She was there for her book signing, and we started talking. After learning her personal story, I knew right away that I wanted to interview her for Gal on the Go. I’m proud to add Samantha as my first literary interview, who I hope will inspire you!

Q: At what age did you first get the writing bug? What incident or point made you decide that you wanted to be a published author for a living?

A: Since early childhood, I always loved to write. At age seven, I remember spending Christmas day scribbling down stories about the characters whose action figures my brother and I received that morning. My brother didn’t understand why I preferred to write about my dolls and toys rather than picking up and playing with them!

I started drafting the six-part Spectrum series when I was 16 years old. Before I began this series, I was an avid fanfiction writer. I produced mass quantities of Harry Potter and other such fanfiction—and, I mean, hundreds of pages per story. At that time, I also followed the daily blog of my favorite author, Orson Scott Card. One day, Card posted an entry titled, “When to Write Fanfiction.” To my great astonishment, he answered, “The time is never.” He said, if you consider yourself a real writer or ever want to be published, you need to create your own original material. Fanfiction can be fun and good writing practice, but you’re never going to propel your authorial career with it. That week, I sat down and started drafting Spectrum, which I’d amusingly titled back then Fire vs. Ice.

The genre of the series is young adult dystopian science fiction and fantasy. When I wrote the first drafts of each installment in the series, dystopian fiction was not all the rage it is now. I think The Giver was the only dystopian novel I’d even heard of at the time! But, in recent years, with the release of novels and movies like Hunger Games and Divergent, it has become a booming genre with a broad readership.

My long-term goal is to be a full-time author, but right now, it is my second job, alongside managing a cybersecurity software engineering firm in the DC area.

Q: Who is your author idol, and why?

A: Prior to reading my first Orson Scott Card novel at age 16, I’d never touched science-fiction or fantasy, only literary fiction. (By now, I’d read almost everything Card has ever written). In 11th grade, a friend of mine shoved a copy of Ender’s Game in my hands and demanded that I read it! To my surprise, I got hooked by the first sentence. What captivates me about Card’s work is not the world-building or sci-fi glamor, but the quality of the characterization. I strive to put the same degree of intensity, complexity and depth into my own characterization, thereby drawing in a larger audience. I’ve been told by many that my work appeals to far more than the typical “sci-fi reader.” For example, a 60-plus-year-old lady who usually only reads Amish romance recently told me that she binged all my books. She said she just couldn’t stop! Previously, she never touched Star Wars or Harry Potter or anything of the like. Hearing that made my day.

Q: For other aspiring writers, what is your overview writing process?

A: When I began writing the series, I didn’t have an outline or a specific plot in mind; I didn’t necessarily know where the story was going or even where it would be set. All I had in mind at the time was the image of a character whom I’d been sketching in my notebooks at school all week: a red-haired, red-robed, green-eyed teenage girl named Scarlet July. So, I sat down and started writing about her—who she is, developing her quirks, and her voice. After that, it was as if the book wrote itself: a world and story seemed to form around Scarlet naturally.

For volumes 2 through 6 in the series, I drafted detailed outlines before diving into the prose. However, writing book 1, where the primary world-building is completed, was almost like a feverish trance that happened to me. It was as if I was along for the ride like a reader, excited to see where the story would go!

Q: What is the biggest challenge of being an author?

A: Writing the actual books is fun and easy. The more difficult part is working with teams of individuals to get the books published—everything from editing to formatting to commissioning cover art and marketing. Writing the books is truly only half the battle. No matter how great a story you write, it won’t get read without thorough promotion, such as social media marketing and book-touring.

Generating ads, managing social media platforms, and touring the country for signing events and conventions is almost a full-time job in itself. Between running a cybersecurity company during the day, writing/editing at night, and traveling for my book-tour on weekends, I don’t get much sleep or rest.

Q: What is the greatest perk of being an author?

A: I’ll start by telling you what it isn’t. It isn’t about being recognized by random fans in public. It isn’t about the attention, photo-ops, or awards. It isn’t about the nationwide travel or the money—I still need my day job. It’s about reader reaction. I tear up sometimes when I hear how my stories have touched various people around the world, especially young tweens and teens. Written in the first person, alternating between the perspectives of a 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy from radically different cultures, what drives my plots is the characters’ struggles and growth as they fight to find their place and purpose in the wars plaguing their world. If you’ve ever been a confused, displaced teenager, you will relate to the protagonists. If you’ve ever been impacted by racism or classism, you will relate to the protagonists. If you’ve ever been affected by war or military life, you will relate to the protagonists. You may even find yourself relating to some of the antagonists, as you read their accounts and come to see that they are the heroes of their own stories, often believing that they are fighting for good.

In 2018, I exhibited at the big “Gen Con: Authors’ Avenue” convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. I encountered a teen named Sarah on my first day there. She read the entirety of volume 1 overnight then came back the following morning with her whole family to purchase volume 2, exclaiming how much she enjoyed my creation. Her excitement was infectious. Readers like Sarah have no idea what an impact they make on authors like me. She’s one of the highlights of my entire book tour, right up there with meeting New York Times bestseller Terry Brooks and Tor Publishing Founder Tom Doherty. Experiences like that are the reasons why I write.

Q: What is your dream for your book series?

A: It would be amazing if my novels ever became movies or TV shows. With all the action and adventure, I think they would lend themselves well to the silver screen. My work has been in consideration for video productions before. A couple of months ago, Spectrum made it in the top 10 out of 40 books considered for an HBO movie or series. I wasn’t selected, but I hope the door gets reopened in the future!

Q: Out of your six stories so far, do you have a favorite? If yes, why is it your favorite?

A: With tons of intense, juicy protagonist interaction and twice the word-count of previous installments for it to play out, I believe that book 3, Crystallized, is the most engaging volume in the series thus far.

Q: Given the genre you write and our current COVID-19 environment, do you have any new storyline ideas? If yes, do you care to share?

A: The coronavirus pandemic has not inspired any new novel ideas yet. But, after the Spectrum series is all published, I plan on releasing a medical thriller. Living Ghost is based on my journey with an incredibly rare gastro-vascular disorder called Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome that caused me to stare death in the face before even reaching my second decade of life.

Here’s a sneak peek at the back-cover synopsis: “When eighteen-year-old college freshman Blanca Rokitansky becomes seriously ill, she and her best friend at Nation’s Capital University, aspiring radiologist Russell Brown, are abruptly thrown into a medical mystery enshrouded in controversy. Fighting for acknowledgment of and treatment for Blanca’s rare syndrome from a skeptical medical community, Blanca stares death in the face while Russell—a pre-med Presidential Scholar and volunteer orderly at the University Hospital—confronts the possibility of losing his scholarship and credibility before his career in medicine can really begin. The two embark on a long and dangerous journey filled with controversy, confrontation, invasive procedures, mystery and malpractice. For Blanca, finding a diagnosis is just the beginning.”

Q: Given the current ban on travel and COVID-19, do you see yourself doing something else to stay connected with your readers/fans like a virtual book tour through streaming sessions?

A: Absolutely! Facebook, in particular, has been incredible for engaging my readers, from announcing new releases to running sales to answering questions from other aspiring authors. I started my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/SpectrumNovelSeries, about two years ago and have already gleaned 30,000 followers—through a lot of hard work and dedication. I post several times a week, interacting with readers virtually while my book tour is temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.

Q: When is your next story being released? What is the plotline?

A: Currently, all six books in my series have been written and rewritten over a dozen times each. However, only the first four volumes have gone through the publication process thus far. The fourth Volume, Covalence, just released on March 1, 2020, with book five, Iridescence, expected by March 1, 2021.

The Spectrum series follows an eclectic cast of young adults fighting to survive and find their place and purpose in the wars plaguing the dystopian, future world of Second Earth. From fantastical world-building, to combat sequences, to geopolitics, to the exploration of a soldier’s psyche, to racial and social commentary, to the turmoil and confusion that comes with the teenage years, to forbidden romance, the sextet is a fast-paced, character-driven, sci-fi/fantasy adventure for the Divergent and Hunger Games generation.

Beneath the fantastical world-building and sci-fi sparkle, this series is mainly about young adults consecrating their lives for their countries while still trying to figure out who they are themselves. Whether on this Earth in the present day, or 3,000 years later in a fictional society, the honor, bravery, love, and fear that compose the heart of a soldier is timeless and transcendent, so is the hope, optimism, confusion, and ambition that characterizes the average teenager or young adult.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share that I didn’t cover?

A: You don’t have to be an avid reader or a sci-fi/fantasy buff to dive into the Spectrum series, due to the style and pacing of the prose. I’ve been told by many “non-readers” that Spectrum is the first book they’ve been motivated to finish in years! So, I invite you into the world of Second Earth, following an eclectic cast of young adults who learn the hard way that freedom isn’t free.

___________

Get lost in Samantha Mina’s sci-fi adventure series! Available in paperback, e-book, and audio-book via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Audible, iTunes, Google Play, and more.

  • Spectrum – “American Fiction Awards” finalist
  • Diffusion
  • Crystallized
  • Covalence
  • Iridescence
  • Scintillate

SIDE STORY: Samantha has led an unusual life journey. She almost died at age 20 from a rare and misunderstood illness called SMA Syndrome that induces spontaneous starvation upon its sufferers. She was featured in a documentary on the Discovery Channel called ‘Mystery Diagnosis. To view the three-part feature about Samantha, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAX-sZKgU-E

Teaming Up With Terry

I have been a loyal Terry Bicycles customer for a few years after an employee from REI recommended the company to me for a saddle (LIBERATOR X GEL) for my Cannondale Quick. I reached out to Terry to share the news about my upcoming participation in the Empire State Ride to end cancer, and their response blew me away!!!! They asked me to be a brand ambassador and sent me two pairs of riding shorts perfect for a 500-mile ride. As if that were not generous enough, they also offered me a 40% discount toward supplies I will need for the cancer ride.

Check out my Gal on the Go YouTube video opening my first ambassador package from Terry:

About the Shorts They Sent Me:
NOTE: I will add reviews about the shorts after I wear them on a few rides. If they are anything like my fav Soleil Cycling Short by Terry, then yay!

  • EURO SHORT for all-day riding comfort
    Item No.:610079
  • TOURING SHORT/REGULAR for multi-day bike touring
    Item No.:610054

About Terry:
This kick-butt company, based out of Burlington, VT, was started by a woman named Georgena Terry. For more than 30 years, they have designed innovative bikes, saddles, apparel, and accessories that fit women on the go like myself. They believe in the transformational power of cycling, not just about selling products. They strive to help women be the best cyclist they’re capable of being! I hope you will check them out. A company that makes and sells great products is one thing, BUT to invest in members of their community in support of their goals like my ride for cancer research funds is above and beyond honorable. Terry is a company I am truly proud to be affiliated!

Gal on the Go Gets a Makeover

Gal on the Go

I launched my Gal on the Go blog 14 years ago as part of a grad school project. I cannot believe how fast time has passed!!!! My writer’s voice has evolved and it was time for my look to progress too with some fresh branding. I hope that you enjoy the blog and continue to follow along. Like a fine wine, my goal is for it to keep getting better.

This year I created a sub brand of Gal on the Go called Rock N Flow Yoga, combining my past experience as a DJ with my passion for yoga, by offering private yoga instruction to musicians and bands and leading fun power flows at public festivals and events.

It takes a village of amazing friends and strangers with heart to help make your dreams a reality. You can try to do it alone, but it is much more achievable (especially on rough days) when you have people who are behind you rooting for you!

That said, I would like to give a shout-out to the following people for their unwavering support with this venture…

  • Angela Tarantula, my friend who is a talented graphics designer created the new Gal on the Go logo down to the detail of the arrows giving a sense of action and looking like a pair of legs running. (She also created my Rock N Flow Yoga logo.) Insta: @angtarantula
  • Lauren, my friend who is a skilled photographer and owner of Elle Three Photography took the photo used as the base of the new Gal on the Go logo.
  • Danielle Daily, my friend, and business mentor who is a TED Talk savvy businesswoman and host of the Suddenly Single Show podcast who came up with the concept of rebranding Gal on the Go.
  • Yorke B., a new friend and my Custom Ink rep who has been beyond helpful with all my merch needs for Rock N Flow Yoga.
  • Christina, my friend who placed the first order for some Rock N Flow Yoga merch and gifted it to me as a gesture of her belief in me and my dream.
  • Amanda, my original omie who attended my first studio yoga class ever and every one of my public yoga events.
  • YOU (my blog readers) and the people who grant me interviews — all of whom are a constant inspiration.

Sit back and enjoy this wild ride as we keep it moving onward and upward together!!!!

2019: Year of Transformation

Every December I set core fitness goals for the upcoming year to give me something to focus on and to plan my training. I also try to calculate expected financial costs because as fellow racers know, a year’s worth of race expenses adds up quickly. In addition to my main goals, I sprinkle in smaller events throughout the year as people tell me about them.

This year there’s an additional component to my plans. Yoga. In 2018, I completed a year of dedicated training to become a certified yoga teacher in both sculpt and power styles, and in December I proudly started teaching sculpt and flow at a yoga studio called Fierce Om. Jenny, the owner/manager, has been amazingly supportive as I strive to build up my client base and become the best teacher I can be.

Bev, my life coach, told me that she foresaw 2019 as being a transitive year for me. Typically, change makes me uneasy, but for some reason, I am very excited by this prospect of life transformation, and I’m going to carry it with me and trust in the journey ahead! 

The reason why I started Gal on the Go was to inspire girls and other women through my life examples, to take reasonable risks trying things outside of their comfort zones that would help them to lead healthy lives and discover what they are capable of in areas they never imagined!

Since 2014, when I entered my first race, the Virginia Spartan Super, I have learned a lot through trial and error and advice given to me by other racers. One thing you should never underestimate is the power of your mindset. Sure, physical training is essential, but your mindset can have a significant influence on your outcomes in life situations. Keeping your mindset in check when moments of uncertainty start to creep in is crucial. IF you find your head leading you down a path of doubt or negativity, I offer you these two things to help you push through …

  • A mantra … Mirror, mirror on the wall, I’ll always get up after I fall. And whether I run, walk, or have to crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all!
  • A song (music is a great mind booster) … download and crank up DREAMER by Black Violin.

I promise that you can truly achieve anything you set your mind to combined with honest prep work. Every time during a race, defeating thoughts enter my mind at a grueling point and I have to focus hard to push them aside. I refuse to let those negative thoughts get the best of me. During those moments I tell myself STOP WITH THE SELF-SABOTAGE! I CANNOT FAIL, I WILL NOT FAIL! I may not finish exactly how I hope, BUT make no mistake, I will finish. I am naming 2019 the #yearofyou; get out there and do things that fulfill both your mind and your body!

So what’s coming up in 2019? Some cool stuff!!! Here’s a sneak peek.

YOGA EVENTS I’M LEADING

(NOTE: If you are seeking an enthusiastic yoga instructor for your event, email me at galotgo@gmail.com.)

DATE EVENT LOCATION
January 27 (Sun.)

 

 

Doggy Noses + Puppy Poses: Yoga Flow Class @10:30 a.m.
NOTE: Tickets SOLD OUT in two days!!! Thank you!
Mustang Sally Brewery, Chantilly, VA

 

February 9 (Sat.)

 

 

Athleta In-Store Sculpt Class @9:00 a.m.
Free and open to the public.
*bring your own weights
ATHLETA, Reston, VA

 

 

February 17 (Sun.)

 

New Year Transformative OmWorkshop: Nutrition + Restorative Yoga; Time: TBD Fierce Om, Chantilly, VA

 

??? ??? ???

RACES I’M PARTICIPATING IN

(NOTE: If you there is a race you think I should do or you are looking for a team member email me at galotgo@gmail.com with the details.)

DATE EVENT LOCATION
May 5 TD Five Boro Bike Tour (40 miles) NYC
August 17 SeaWheeze Half Marathon + Yoga Festival Vancouver, BC
??? ??? ???

I don’t have any financial sponsors yet for 2019, but I hope to have some soon. I was fortunate last year to have the support of Westfields Dental, Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, Essence of Om, and Downs and Associates Insurance. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor of Gal on the Go, please email me at galotgo@gmail.com.

“Here’s to the dreamers! Yes, I’m a dreamer!”

– black violin

Time Flies When You’re on the Go

In 2015, I set out to complete a Spartan Trifecta, but not just any Sprint, Super and Beast, I purposely chose the most difficult Spartan Races on the east coast. I started with the Virginia Super at Wintergreen, then tackled the Vermont Beast at Killington, and finished with the Boston Sprint at Fenway Park. I entered the obstacle races solo and had the honor of connecting with some incredible competitors, and meeting their supporters along the way. Everyone I met made my experiences memorable and fun!

In 2016, some unexpected injuries and surgeries got in my way, but I focused my energy on making a comeback in 2017 because life is too short for a pity party! I trained year-round approximately five times a week and pushed myself outside my comfort zone to try races of all kinds that I had never done before.

I’m not going to sugar coat it; 2017 was exhausting, but I had a blast! I owe the privilege of being able to participate in the events below because of the support from my friends, community, and local businesses like Westfields Dental and CorePower Yoga Fairfax. Thanks to all for the positive memories!

DATE EVENT LOCATION
May 7 40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour New York City, NY
May 14 DC Bike Ride Washington, DC
June 17 Tough Mudder Full Whistler Olympic Park, Vancouver, BC
July 29 VA Momentum: SUPTri (paddle board, bike, run) Bridgewater, VA
August 27 Philly 10K Philadelphia, PA
September 9 13 Colonies Ride Washington, DC
September 16 2017 National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Oxon Hill, MD
September 23 GlowDogGlow 5K Loudoun, VA
October – January Yoga Teacher Training School Fairfax, VA

 

Bonded by Mud

Tough Mudder Full, Whistler Olympic Park
12+ Miles
19 Obstacles
12,300 Participants From Around the World
Bib #374707

I eagerly entered the corral at the starting line. The MC gave the crowd a pep talk about how the mentality of Tough Mudder isn’t how fast you can cross the finish line, but rather about pushing yourself and accomplishing something extraordinary. “It’s not about medals,” he said, “it’s about camaraderie.” That’s why IF you complete a Tough Mudder challenge, you receive a coveted finisher headband and T-shirt, not a medal.

I was at the Tough Mudder solo, but I hoped to come across a kind comrade or two for help at obstacles I physically couldn’t do by myself. I never expected it to happen at the second obstacle! The Hero Carry requires a teammate to carry you for a set distance; switch and then have you carry them. A guy with a wild mohawk said he didn’t have a partner. He instantly scooped me up in his arms and carried me, then at the switching point, we linked arms to the end of the obstacle. As we ran to the next obstacle, he introduced himself as Randy. It turned out that he was doing the Tough Mudder as part of a trio with his best friends Trevor and Kelsey. Our teamwork continued and by the third obstacle, Kelsey turned to me and said, “welcome to our team!” That’s how I ended up being adopted as the fourth member of their group.

I was sweating from the physical exertion, but oddly, I also had goosebumps and my teeth were chattering. I’m not sure why I was surprised that a challenge I was doing on Whistler Mountain in Canada was cold!?! It was a mental trip seeing snow on the ground at various points of the course. As Kelsey and I rounded one of the corners Randy pelted us with a snowball!

When we approached the first water obstacle Kelsey advised me to take off my shirt so I would have something fairly dry to put back on. I thought it’s a short sleeve shirt, it can’t possibly make a difference, but I took her advice. She said “hand your shirt to him” and pointed to a man on the side. I was like OOOK, here’s my shirt stranger. We successfully completed the obstacle, got our shirts, and put them back on (it did in fact help and make a difference). Kelsey said, “Oh, by the way, that’s my dad.” I said, “well, this is the most interesting way I have ever met someone’s parent!” Her parents were along the course at certain points as spectators to support her.

The temperature became cooler as time passed and the frigid water obstacles proved to be the most challenging I had ever faced. Unfortunately, I failed three of the water obstacles, which bummed me out. They didn’t count against me in the challenge, but I was very disappointed in myself. I never trudged through so much mud in my life. During one of the stretches of running, I came across a sneaker casualty. Apparently, someone had lost their sneaker in the mud and kept going! There’s definitely a reason why the word mud is part of the name. I ripped my leggings and collected several brush burns and bruises. Randy positively referred to them as our “accomplishment tattoos”.

In Spartan races, it’s a tradition to jump over a fire pit of flames as the last obstacle. Equally scary, Tough Mudder tradition ends with maneuvering through live electrical wires over water pits. It’s called Electroshock Therapy. I proudly made it to the end and earned a coveted orange finisher headband and shirt. Kelsey’s parents were there to congratulate us. Her mom came to my rescue and handed Kelsey a foil-like wrap to put around me. I never thought a thin silver sheet could feel so warm. I looked like a giant baked potato, but I didn’t care.

Just like the MC said, the challenge was indeed about camaraderie. I am grateful that I made three new friends who literally lent me a hand several times along the way, and cheered me on as one of their own. Thank you, Kelsey, Randy and Trevor!   

The Tough Mudder Full was my second big healthy comeback goal for 2017 and my first Tough Mudder event ever. My aim was to finish the challenge in under four hours. I am proud to share that my trio and I completed it in a little over 3 hours and I am now an official Tough Mudder Legionnaire!

The third big healthy comeback goal I set for the year is six weeks away. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first triathlon, the VA Momentum SUPTri in Bridgewater, VA, on July 29! 

Since the age of eight, I have continuously been presented with challenges in which I needed to be fearless to overcome. That’s how I came up with the theme of living a fearless life for my adventure blog. Each time I felt like I couldn’t make it through yet another life test, I learned that I am stronger than I thought, especially with the loyal support of others.

THANK YOU to my family, friends, community and business sponsors OrthoVirginia, Westfields Dental and Flyte Fitness for continuing to believe in me!

OrthoVirginiaWestfields Dental

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 kind-hearted 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 collection.

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour was my first big healthy comeback goal for 2017 and my first bike event ever. My aim was just to complete the event, although, in my mind, I hoped to finish it in four to five hours. I am proud to share that I completed it in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

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 big healthy comeback goal I set for the year is fast approaching. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first Tough Mudder Full taking place at one of the top toughest venues, Whistler, BC, on June 17!

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, Westfields Dental and Flyte Fitness. THANK YOU for believing in me!

OrthoVirginia

Westfields Dental

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

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 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.

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.