Thursday, December 23, 2010

Who Restores You?

So after having crashed my system, I managed to come down with a cold yesterday. Yuck. So I'm off the bike entirely until I get over this and I'm taking the time to reflect on the restorative and healing process and those whom we seek out when we are wounded.

It's easy to remember the people who get us excited, inspired and ramped up to do things because they are the larger-than-life people. The ones who instantly fill up a room with their personalities, enthusiasm and ideas. And those are the people I am usually off chasing like a small dog after a car. There is so much energy and excitement that you can't help but be caught up in the whirlwind and the feeling that you can accomplish almost anything! I am so fortunate because my life is filled with these awesome people and I gibber about them constantly.

But after I fly out of the whirlwind and fall to earth with a big thud, who is it that calms and soothes my owies and my shorted-out brain? My Yogi, that's who. She is one of those people in the back of the room who you may not notice at first but when you walk into her space, you feel a definite calming presence. She is always there providing quiet encouragement and asking me what I need. Every week I go to her house for a magical restoring session with a couple of good friends and walk out feeling calm and recharged and restored. If you ever get a chance to take a yoga class with Anita Farrah I highly recommend it! She is also my dear friend and fellow artist and I am lucky to have her in my life.

So take a minute and remember to thank those quiet-yet-oh-so-supportive people in your life!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

You Better Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

The crash was inevitable. Not able to sleep, sick to my stomach, stuttering, shaking like a frightened chihuahua in a thunderstorm, frustrated and crying at the drop of a hat. All my muscles felt like they had stilettos stuck in them. Every object I picked up got dropped at least twice. I had pushed myself into a flareup.

The holidays hit with all of the extra cleaning, decorating, cooking, baking, visiting, and shopping. I had set my sights on doing my first 100 mile test ride in early February and started to ramp up my training schedule the first week of December. For a normal, healthy adult that would be a lot. For someone like me with my fabulous gift basket of physical dysfunction, it was the perfect storm.

We did a 40 mile ride up by Usery Pass which is a lot of hill climbing on Saturday and climbed that big red hill on the profile twice. I came home and I cranked out five different batches of cookie dough and cleaned up the kitchen. Sunday I spent the day baking cookies with a friend. By Monday evening I was a wreck. Dave came home and found me freaking out and crying over the computer because I couldn't figure out how to re size some photos for printing.

So Tuesday I had to do some soul searching. The superhero cape needed to be folded neatly and put in the drawer for a little while so I can get stronger. I am still planning to do that 100+ mile ride for Beads of Courage and the kids but at a slower pace. I'd like to get to that 100 mile marker by my 50th birthday this summer.

So stick with me, I'm downshifting a little but still training and posting. This is just a little bump in the road!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

El Tour de Tucson with Team Beads of Courage and Friends

WINDY!!! That was the word for the day at El Tour de Tucson 2010! There is nothing cyclists like to hear less than "It's gonna be a windy day out there tomorrow with gusts up to 25mph." I swear I saw the Tucson weather guy smirking and that's why the cleaning lady at the hotel will find a Cliff Shot Block stuck to the TV screen right where his face was. I would rather climb hills than ride in a head wind. I got my new nickname "Wheel Sucker Saker" because I was glued to Dave's back tire the last 20 miles. At least the view was nice.

66 miles on my own bike this time and a lot slower. Dave had a tandem related injury and so I had to drop us down from the 80 mile ride to the 66 because I just wasn't ready to do 80 on my own. Forgot my inhaler and met another woman at a rest stop who forgot hers too so we wheezed, coughed and commiserated for a bit.

Our friends Ryan and Jen at the starting line

Dave and I at the starting line - notice how smiley and fresh we are!

1/4 mile river crossing

After a few hills. Notice my smile is not quite as big. Not so cocky now, eh Saker?

Yes, that's a unicycle. And his number indicates he's in it for the 106 miles. Respect dude, Respect.

Many thanks to the roadside cheering sections who made the ride fun.

At the finish. We placed 739 and 740 out of about 1300 riders in our category. I was more concerned with the small colony of fire ants that had apparently taken up residence in my shorts.

Here we are tired but happy with Dr. Jean Baruch, founder of Beads of Courage and her husband Mike Baruch.

Our friends Rebecca "Socks" and Scott. Rebecca rides a 40lb mean machine complete with a Toto totin' big wicker basket on the front. She has won the women's mountain bike category in the century ride several years in a row.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One last training ride

Dave is off the bike with an injury and a cold so no tandem for awhile. I did a 50 mile solo Sunday with two hill climbs and Dave followed me on the motorcycle for awhile. We will be doing the 66 mile route in El Tour de Tucson this Saturday with Team Beads of Courage and I'm doing it on my own bike this time. If Dave isn't better, I will be going it alone. If you're down there jingle your cowbell for Team Beads of Courage!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tour de Safford

66 miles with our friends in Safford, AZ this last Saturday the 30th. This was the longest I have ridden since my last century ride (100+ miles) in 1993.

Here we are - the Magnificent Seven.

Pablo (aka Pablo Escobar)

The endless cotton fields. I wanted to go pick some and stuff it in my shorts after about 50 miles.

And here is where we've decided we're retiring.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Everyone Needs a Team

I'm an official Beads of Courage Cycling Team member now! I signed up my hubby Dave and I for our first Team BOC event and so my second big ride is going to be riding in El Tour de Tucson on November 20th. We are riding the 80 mile route on the tandem.

The Cycling Team needs more members, so if you are able to make it to Tucson on the 20th of November, here is where you can sign up to join the team and ride.

If you can't ride, but still want to support the team, please consider sponsoring Team Beads of Courage here!

You've all probably been the member of a team sometime in your life. Whether it was a sports team or a working team at a job or some other group working together for a common goal like walking to find a cure for breast cancer. Teams are an important part of our lives.

And sometimes you are the recipient of a team effort - like when you get sick. I have a team - a really wonderful team. All of the players on my team help to keep me functional, out of bed and on my bike. The people on my team are compassionate, caring, smart and experts at what they do. Each one supervises a certain aspect of my physical well-being and when you put them all together, they are like the Carol Saker pit crew! On my team I have:
A Cardiologist
A Chiropracter
Massage Therapists
Physical Therapists
A Neurologist
A Doctor of Osteopathy
A Nurse Practitioner
A Yogi

When the kids in the Beads of Courage Program are diagnosed, they start building their team of doctors, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, physical therapists, and more. They also have a team of people they have never met out there in the world doing special things to help them get better. There are artists making amazing art beads for the kids to document their journey with, and athletes sharing their training and accomplishments with the kids in order to make them feel like they are a real part of a team!

The newest member of my team is Courage Tiger - he will be at the start and finish of every race cheering us on.
Don't even think about touching my bike or RAWR!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Challenge Begins!! Bikes, Beads, Hope and Healing.

So who is Carol and what is this challenge she wants us to care about? Is she climbing Mount Everest? Setting a world cheese making record? Attempting to eat 500 hot dogs in 45 minutes? Those endeavors would surely win her 15 minutes of fame on YouTube, or perhaps a guest appearance on a talk show, or maybe even a movie starring...hmmm, who would they choose to play her? And the hot dog thing would probably earn her a stint in the ER for sure. But seriously, that isn't what this is all about.

This challenge is far more personal and much less sensational, but hopefully it will make a difference - a difference in my life, a difference in the lives of people with physical challenges and the lives of a lot of really brave kids fighting childhood cancer and other serious illnesses.

So if you are totally disappointed that I won't try to explode my brain at 29,000 feet or my stomach with an appalling number of processed meat tubes, no need to read any further. But if you are still here and wondering: WHAT THE HECK IS SHE DOING ALREADY? Please read on...


To ride my bike 100 miles in one day to support and give hope to the amazing kids in Beads of Courage. The kids enrolled in the Beads of Courage program are in a daily battle with cancer and other serious illnesses and are some of the most brave, optimistic, inspiring and admirable people I have ever met. And believe me, in half a century, you meet a LOT of people!

Through this blog, I also hope to help inspire other people who suffer from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, MS and other similar life altering illnesses to see how exercise, under the care and advice of licensed medical practitioners, can help them feel better and improve their chances of having a better life.


Two reasons, really. The first was working with Dr. Jean Baruch at Beads of Courage and meeting the children who face the ultimate challenge in their lives. These kids changed the way I face my own life challenges - they have given me a precious perspective on how to live. Through the Team Beads of Courage program, I hope to bring them hope and healing by letting them know that there are a whole bunch of people out there in the world who are riding, running, dog sledding, skating, skiing, swimming, driving race cars and even going into outer space (yes, Team BOC has astronauts!!) and rooting for them to get well.

The second reason is having been diagnosed with a life long chronic, debilitating illness. It makes you take a long, hard look at how you are going to live the rest of your life. For me, physical fitness is so very important to maintaining a quality of life with less pain, fewer medications and the ability to perform the simplest of tasks that most take for granted. I am slowly getting my life back this year working with Terry Roach and the caring staff at Body Stabilization. Terry's unique approach to healing and strength building gave me the support I needed to get me back on my bike and ride for my life and for the lives of all those I hope to raise awareness and support for.

In the following days I'll be posting my progress on the bike as I head to my first milestone - a one day 70 mile tandem ride in the Tour de Safford on October 30th 2010. I hope you'll join me in supporting Beads of Courage and Team BOC!