The MS150 pushed me to my limits, connected me with other MS Warriors and supporters, and brought intense highs and lows. I'm so glad it's over. And I'm so sorry it's over. Here are some lessons from my weekend adventure, biking over 160 miles from Houston to Austin:
· Pickle juice is really a thing. It is packaged and sold. It is a favorite drink along the MS150, available at every break point. It's supposed to help reduce cramps, and hey, it worked for me!
· My mom is Super Woman. She is 26 years older than I am, and I yet I had to tell her – many times - to slow down so I could keep up during the ride. She never complained, never asked to rest, and never stopped inspiring me with her strength and perseverance. I need to buy her a cape!
· I am not alone. Having MS can feel so isolating. Sometimes I feel like no one understands my struggle to live with my symptoms and the burden of uncertainty that MS has brought. But throughout the MS150 weekend, I met so many people who understood. Thank you, Michelle, Audrey, Reese, Mike, Lansing, Kristy, and everyone else who shared their stories or listened to mine and made me feel validated and valued.
· I don't like a flat road. The first 40 miles of the route, through Houston and its suburbs, is devoid of even a slight incline. It's not hard, but it's boring. I prefer the ups and downs. Without riding uphill, you don't get to coast downhill. (I think there may be a metaphor here!)
· Community is everything. The support from my Tacodeli teammates (especially team captain Lisa Steffek) and the MS150 community gave me hope and helped propel me forward. Bates, Cesar, and Luis drove from El Paso to ride with me. Along the route, I wore my "I Ride with MS" jersey like a badge of honor. Dozens of people offered encouragement, often as they whizzed past me on their bikes.
· Setting and then accomplishing a goal feels great! I welcome the sore muscles and exhaustion because they remind me that I worked hard. For the rest of my life, I always want to be reaching towards a new goal, striving to do more. I encourage everyone to set a goal – something tough, but attainable - and Go For It!
Finally, I am overcome with gratitude. Thanks to everyone who donated to the National MS Society in support of my ride. (It's not too late to contribute if you still want to support their amazing work: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/Lisa-and-Libby-Doggett.)
Thanks, also, for the encouraging texts, emails and well wishes from so many friends. Each one cheered me up - especially two-thirds of the way through Day #1 when I was ready to collapse.
I am so fortunate that I could do this ride, and I look forward to the next challenge.
Please share your most important goals below. Or if you rode the MS150 (or volunteered or cheered someone on), share your Lessons from the Road in the Comments below.