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Race Report - James Jacoby & Robert Botard
Of course, we made it to the finish line. But this was never just about 2 guys riding 140 miles on bicycles and running 38 miles from Houston to Austin on a Saturday in April. Finishing was NEVER in doubt because your thoughts, prayers, and support ensured a level of commitment that did not allow for anything other than a successful completion of the goal. We sincerely thank you for participating with us. Together with more than 100 team members, we have raised over $11,000 that will benefit those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
We began our cycling journey just after 6 in the morning, with lights mounted on the bikes to guide the way. Our biggest concern going into the day was the projected 18mph headwind that would surely have a big impact on the bike ride. Unfortunately this was one day the weather predictors would have it right. We had hoped to finish the 140 mile ride by 3:00 in the afternoon. While the constant wind in our faces certainly added to the challenge of the day, we were pleasantly surprised when we finished only 60 minutes later than expected, just before 4 in the afternoon, only 10 hours after we started the ride. This year's headwinds were the strongest we've seen in the last 7 years of MS150 rides, by far. We later heard stories about sag wagons with signs posting "Full" taped to the windows. Ultimately the organization had to revert to school buses to accommodate the shear number of stranded riders.
But that same northerly wind that caused so much havoc for so many riders brought with it a hugely beneficial side effect. It wiped out all the typical south Texas heat and humidity and ushered in temperatures in the mid-70s and a clear, crispness to the air that made our run to Austin and the finish line much more comfortable.
With the cycling finished and after 30 minutes of nutrition loading and a quick clothing change, we were off on the run by 4:30pm. In a rush of adrenaline we completed the first mile in 7:40 then quickly settled into an 8:30 to 9:00 minute pace for the next several miles.
Our support crew was tremendous. Dave Glen, Dan Rose, and Tim Lootens were a God-send. The running strategy devised by our star coach Beth Kenney, was to run 9 minutes and walk 1 minute, then repeat. The technique was well imprinted on our brains through the countless hours and miles of preparation. We carried out Beth's orders with military-like precision ever mindful of past memories of crash and burn experiences that couldn't be part of our effort this weekend. Every 2 miles, our support crew was waiting for our arrival, with Gatorade, Powerbars, energy gels, and anything else we might possibly have needed. Whether we could physically choke down another gel or pretzel, the crew wasn't taking no for an answer when it came to consuming calories. Running through the middle of Texas on a 2-lane country road, it was more than comforting to know they were just around the corner, ready with supplies and encouragement to keep us going.
As the daylight faded our pace slowed a bit, closer to 10 minute miles. We spent several hours running in the dark with headlights and reflective gear, not in fear of running out of energy but of being flat-out run over, as cars flew by us, headed away from Austin on a Saturday night. We never really felt exhausted on the run, although we were consciously in a state of self-preservation, pacing ourselves, never wanting to blow-up. We probably took more time than necessary in our pit stops and certainly could have picked up the pace but, after all, this wasn't a race in the traditional sense. Our commitment to those 8 names written on the banner we carried and the 100+ individuals that participated through their thoughts, prayers, and contributions kept us focused on the goal of conservative progress.
To the Finish Line
Once we hit the outskirts of Austin, the city lights and wider roads enabled us to breathe a bit easier and pick up the pace. With only a few miles to go, the burnt orange glow of the tower at The University of Texas and the Texas Capitol Building came into full sight. You could feel the adrenaline pumping as we moved closer to the finish. Ultimately, it was just past midnight when we triumphantly completed our 18-hour journey. As had been the case all throughout the day, our 3-man support crew was waiting for us, cheering us on.
As we expected, the finish line banner was not up yet, as most of the 13,000 riders would not be wrapping up their 2-day trek until sometime mid-day Sunday. But every bit of the enthusiasm and spirit that would applaud their victory was right there with us, in the quiet of the middle of the night. As a handful of workers set up tables and tents in preparation for the next day's festivities we enthusiastically finished our one day journey. Tracy Jacoby and James' 7-year old son David joined us for our own small celebration. We all were thrilled to have come so far in support of the many that suffer from MS.
Real World Impact
We had the opportunity to ask Tracy's doctor, Dr. George Hutton, to tell us how he has personally been impacted by the funds generated through the MS150. He responded very quickly by explaining to us that because of your generous donations to the MS Society, they are able to fund the salaries of his nurse and social worker available to patients at the Maxine Messinger MS Clinic in Houston. The nurse is available for patient care as well to answer the myriad of inevitable questions that come up when a doctor's response is difficult to get. The social worker helps MS patients receive the social services that they may not know are available or how to go about getting them. As an example, if a patient needs an air conditioner to help cope with the summer heat and cannot afford one, the social worker can help find ways to secure one. The social worker can also help a patient get the psychological services they need in helping them and family members cope with the day to day realities of living with a chronic disease like MS. These are just a couple of examples of how your donations make a difference in the every day lives of MS patients. None of these resources would be available if it were not for the donations from generous individuals such as you.
We thank you for all of your support, thoughts, prayers, and financial contributions. This has been a truly rewarding experience.