Lauren’s Ride to Conquer Cancer: Two for the Road

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Cancer is one of those diseases that touches almost everyone. Whether it’s a family member or a friend, most of us know someone that has had cancer. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 539 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every day and 2 out 5 Canadians are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime. My life has been greatly impacted by cancer over the last few years – both of my grandfathers passed away from IMG_0067cancer while I was completing my university degree.

My paternal grandfather, Pop, was always one for adventure and active living. After he passed away, I started volunteering at the Thrive Centre, a free exercise facility for cancer patients at the University of Calgary. I got the opportunity to work with head and neck cancer survivors as a practicum student and after graduating I was hired by the research lab associated with the Thrive Centre. Since then, I have been able to work with breast and prostate cancer survivors as well as caregivers. It always amazes me how strong and resilient these Thrivers are through their respective journeys.

For the last few years my dad has been doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer to help raise money and in remembrance of Pop. This year I am doing the Ride with my dad (our team name is Two for the Road). I am always up for a challenge but cycling 200km in two days seems very daunting. I played ringette and soccer growing up and although I enjoy endurance exercise (sometimes) I have not done a lot of long distance aerobic exercise in recent years.

Last year my New Year’s Resolution was to run 5km with the Thrivers at Stride for Thrive, the Thrive Centre’s annual fundraiser. Since I don’t enjoy running, it took a lot of mental toughness to run a few times as week and build up to run 5km but it didn’t take a lot of effort to structure training properly. 200km over 2 days is quite a bit different – before purchasing my road bike I had never cycled more than 40km at a given time. I will be posting training updates over the next few months as I train and prepare for this trek.  Stay tuned!

Learn more about the Ride to Conquer Cancer in support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Interested in supporting Lauren on her Ride to Conquer Cancer? Visit her donation page.

Training Updates:

February 27 – Made an important first step and purchased my road bike! Being clipped in was definitely an experience and I will probably forget I’m attached to my bike and crash at some point over the next few weeks.

March 13 – Went for my first real ride today. My friend suggested we do an easy 20km ride around Calgary. He miscalculated the distance and we ended up cycling 50km – I didn’t get off the couch for the rest of the day.

March 20 – Went on a 40km ride along the 22x out to Priddis and back today. I went to the Grape Escape with some friends last night so it was a little rough at the beginning. This was my first highway ride so that was exciting – pretty similar to biking around Toronto, just without the TTC buses.

April 3 – This weekend was my first time doing back to back days in the saddle. I did ~60km over the last two days and my butt is sore! My friend and I cycled down to the Reservoir and got very lost of the way back home. Guess that’s what you get when 2 Torontonians that live in NW Calgary venture down South.

April 10 – Did a big weekend with ~70km in volume. I’ve been getting some knee pain in my left knee so I’ve been taking it a bit easy this week and I’m booked in for physio early next week. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious!

April 22 – Went to physio and it turns out my IT Band is aggravated. I was given some strength exercises and told to not cycle for a week or so to see how it would do with rest.

Road side assistance

May 8 – after 2 weeks off, a lot of physio and massage, I am back in the saddle! Managed to get in a relatively pain free 60km of cycling this weekend. It wasn’t without it’s adventures though and I got my first flat while biking in south Calgary. The youtube videos I watched came in handy and we were able to get my tire changed and get back on the road.

May 15 – Spent the ride practicing hill climbs. Climbing is by far my least favourite thing to do. The good news is that normally on this circuit my heart rate hits up to 187bpm (my theoretical max HR is 197bpm) but on this day it only hit 175!

May 29/31 – Went to 2 spin classes in 3 days! I like to think I’m fairly in shape but there was a permanent stitch in my side the whole time. One of my favourite parts of spin class is they make you do things you don’t like. I biked to and from the second class… I don’t recommend it.

June 18 – After a few weeks of doing smaller 30-40km rides I went for the big one! Some friends and I went on a “road bike party” through K-Country. 70km of beautiful mountain views and lots of hills. There were about 11 of us – half experienced riders and half total newbies. I’d classify myself somewhere in the middle. I definitely surprised myself and was able to stay in the front 4 of the pack for the whole ride!

July 8-10 – I spent the last 10 days on vacation so I really didn’t do a whole lot besides some running at the hotel gym. I tried out a rowing class earlier today and decided to go for a casual ride with one of my friends. Casual ride it was not. 6km later of actual hell (300m elevation gain) we decided it wasn’t worth going back down the hill on the other side and turned around. My legs were totally gassed and there was a lot of repeating the phrase “this is good training for day 2… this is good training for day 2…”. We went for ice cream afterwards so that made things marginally better. I followed that up with a  super early meditation class the next morning, a 30km ride that evening, and a bootcamp class on Sunday morning. Something I have definitely learned while training is how important those rest days are so I’m going to take it easy over the next week or so.

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