To my left at Sunday’s Cycle for Survival was a woman who had been spinning for almost eight hours and inspired me to pedal faster than I wanted to and keep rising out of the saddle, rather than be seated like a wuss. Anne Zimmerman was the only woman in the group of just four EXTREMELY extreme cyclists this year who rode for both morning and afternoon sessions. And there were just 32 others who rode for four hours out of 10,000 people participating in this year’s event. She was magnificent.
I asked about her training to get ready and if she wanted to write about it. Little did I imagine that she spins 10 times a week, does 100 push ups, and road bikes 350 miles a week in the summer. I was also awed to learn that her team raised more money for the event than any of the other 2000 teams. Here is her amazing and powerful story.
Sunday I sat on a medium comfortable, ok, not so comfortable, spin bike for 8 hours sweating and panting but having the time of my life. Cycle for Survival raised almost 8 million dollars this year and our team, Team Perry, just crossed the $300,000 mark the other day. All of us riding for Team Perry draw our inspiration from one brave little girl, my daughter Perry Zimmerman.
But I think this story is supposed to be about me, not as easy a subject as my family and friends or the food that I write about on my blog, nutrimommy.com . Ok, me as an exerciser. I admit to being a fanatic, and I go to about 10 spin classes during a typical week here in New York City. I add to that one long treadmill run anywhere from 7 to 13 miles always before my Monday morning Darryl Gaines spin class, which is a rockin’ good time, plus one or two short runs, and a Thursday insane short run with Robert Pennino that often involves killer sprints up extremely steep inclines. I occasionally dabble in a duathlon, half iron length and am always prepared for that, so have never officially trained. Other than that, I do 100 push-ups of questionable form twice a week and occasionally pull-ups as I see fit. I do not seem to have achieved Ira’s abs quite yet.
The excessive spin classes are just a warm up for long summer and vacation bike rides. Last summer I had myself going about 350 miles a week with at least one 80 to 100 mile ride in there. Our marriage counselor, Gregg Cook,(hah, he is really a spin instructor) thinks I need to rest. Yet I assure you I do this all purely for fun. I know some people have questioned my wasting my precious babysitter (free) time this way, but I cannot think of a better way to explore my community and broaden my world beyond the gates some of my friends rarely pass through. By riding to farmers markets and grocery stores, I save myself from sitting in a car, something we city women cannot get our head around.
Outside our Maryland summer community, I have found amazing Chesapeake views, crazy hills, a swath of fishermen communities and farmers as income diverse as you can imagine. I’ve met people through my own flat tires, through my blabbering on about unhealthy sports drinks with artificial colors and through my poking around little farm stands like the one that always gives me a glass of water or the one where the woman cannot believe I am over 40:) I love that woman!
In Florida, I have discovered every health food store from Ft. Pierce to well north of Melbourne, and inland have found organic farms and bootlegged raw milk and illegal organic groceries. I even was carded buying Kombucha at Jungle in Melbourne…boy is Florida odd.
Every year in August, in spite of some whining and complaining by my husband, we take a hiking trip in eastern Canada. Last year, I let him talk me out of it, and we headed to Florida where we discovered an enormous lump in my daughter’s leg. Since she had had retinoblastoma as a baby, and a huge brain tumor as a two year old, I immediately suspected cancer, had it confirmed and came home to Sloan Kettering.
Since then, I gave up most of my career-related activity, I do not advise on nutrition, nor take law school classes toward that LLM in environmental law. I no longer research and write about unreasonably ridiculous FDA laws, nor do I visit the NYC public schools to check on the vegetarian lunch program. I rarely get the chance to take my younger three kids to an after-school activity, but I do still exercise.
I think the sacrifices are small, and the time at the hospital with my recovering daughter who has three more months of chemotherapy is worth every sacrifice. But the exercise keeps my mind and body strong for her.
And believe me there has been heavy lifting involved. After her 15-hour surgery I squatted for a half hour holding her leg up…OMG that hurt. Hauling a few backpacks of her school work and her IV fluids a block to hail a cab, or pushing a wheelchair sometimes for more than an hour or two, is not physically easy either.
If I look back on this cancer experience since August, the incredible support of friends and family, my husband and my other three nutty kids, the crazy rockin’ fun heavy exercise of Darryl’s spins, and the seriously tough exercise of Avery Washington and Robert get me through my long, sedentary, often stressful hospital days. So, I am already looking forward to next year’s 8 hours, when I am again a regular mom with four healthy kids.