August 30, 2007

Amazon princess

So, I can't remember what my last tattoo post was, but here is the opposite side of my wizard that I posted so many HNTs ago.

August 27, 2007


Running in the fog shrouded, cool morning air. Peaceful. Serene. Yet, echoes of war and screams lingered in my mind. The perfectly cut grass, the white, weathered gray stones all in perfect aligned rows. The spirits of the fallen surrounded us.

Swollen with pride, it wasn't hard to keep running. Not for ourselves, but for those that lay in peace around us. Each a hero in their own right. Like pages in a history book the stones passed by. Beckoning. Calling. The bugles forlorn notes of Taps arose in the mind. The only sound the tread of our feet and our rapid breathing. Sometimes a flutter of wings.

Arlington is one of the most powerful places I've ever been. I'll never forget. Even though I never knew a single soul that rested there. Comrades through time and service. From Privates to Presidents to former slaves and even unknowns, Arlington's rich history ever grows. Remember.

August 25, 2007

i aspire

Why do we quote people that are dead?

We aspire. Simple concept. Some people achieve greatness with their actions, words or deeds. Everyone has moments of extreme clarity of thought. The perfect statement at the right time. Capturing these moments leads others to aspire to bring this energy or success unto themselves. We pull the shadow of greatness on like a mantle. Repeating the words of inspiration. Leading others to our finds.

Often, the words we quote were tailored for a platform. We can all even name many of the same statements and who uttered them. "It's not what your your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." - Kennedy. "I have a dream" Dr. King. "We shall never surrender." - Churchill.

Others are more obscure, yet equally as powerful given proper context. "I have not yet begun to fight." - John Paul Jones. "Nuts." - Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe

A writer named Anonymous seems to be the most prolific of quotation generators of all. "Character is a victory, not a gift." or "Genius is the talent of a person who is dead." The last one is particularly appropriate to my thoughts today. I can aspire, hope, dream and strive all I wish. True genius will simply have to wait.

August 12, 2007

Not about me

My Pan-Mass Challenge did not turn out quite as expected. Day one 111 miles on Sat. Opened as a beautiful day. A light breeze carried a sense of freshness and excitement that was tangible. At the start point, nearly 4000 cyclists gathered to begin a journey they began preparing months in advance.

As we rode out, I was filled with a sense of belonging. To be a part of such an amazing event had me pedaling like I was on feathers. Little did I know that this feeling was only the beginning. I've done a number of endurance charity rides in the last few years. Each has a special place in my memory. None of them prepared me for the welcome I found in the Massachusetts countryside. People lined the route and it often felt like we couldn't ride two blocks without someone cheering the riders on and thanking us for riding. From little kids wanting to high five the riders to seniors in lawn chairs waving us on. Later in the day as the heat grew people had set up sprinklers or hoses to help cool the riders. Riding through one of these gave a renewed energy to ride for another mile or two. There were families in the middle of no-where passing out ice-cold bottles of water to riders by the truckload.

I initially had wanted to leapfrog 40 miles into the ride in an effort to bypass the hardest sections. However, the constant cheers and encouragement from other riders had me past the hardest hills with a smile pasted on my face. The final pit stop is a mere 7 miles from the finish. I stopped here to ice my knee and chat a bit with my ride partner J. I remember a rider coming into the med tent looking a bit like he was a boiled lobster. I immediately stood and gave him my seat and my ice bag. He was surprised. "I didn't know I was that bad off." I smiled and said, 'you'll be fine, just sit for a while.'

Back on the bike, I alternated checking on J and my odometer. My heart running trills. The rush of passing a full century mark is something that is hard to describe. The century is a bike riders marathon, a mountain climbers summit. According to my cycling computer, I burned over 8000 calories getting to the 100-mile mark. That's about 736 MM's, 32 McDonald's Hamburgers, or 24 medium ice cream cones from Dairy Queen.

I'd like to tell you about the amazing reception at the finish line, but I never saw it. At 108 miles into the ride, another rider swerved into me. I tried to maintain my position, but crashed to the ground, losing consciousness for a brief time. My helmet is crushed on the side I hit on. I would later find out the impact ruptured a blood vessel in my brain, (a subarachnoid hemorrhage), broke two ribs and my clavicle. Road rash over various parts of my body and 8 staples to close a 1.6 inch gash in my head round out the damage.

I was taken by ambulance to one hospital then transferred by medivac helicopter (see photo below) to Mass General in Boston. CT's showed blood was pooling in my skull and my left side neuro responses were slow to respond. I was placed in ICU under constant watch until Sunday evening when another CT determined the ruptured blood vessel was no longer increasing pressure on my brain. I was given a load of anti-convulsion meds and will be taking them for a couple weeks as the blood dissapates. (They almost went in to relieve the pressure.)

Needless to say, I'm in a great deal of pain and have severely restricted ability to move. Would I trade the experience? Not for anything in the world. Despite the crash and the painful reminders when I move, I have a renewed trust in the human spirit. That people all find ways to help. From the cheering kids I high-fived on the side of the road to the riders offering quiet encouragement on the hills to everyone that donated money to help me reach my fundraising goal. Ultimately, It's not about my 8,000 calories, my broken bones or my completion of the ride. It's about cancer and helping those that suffer from it's devastating effects.