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Monday, August 23, 2010

Escape to the Cape - 6 guys, one chick, 290 miles in 36 hours

A friend of Sue and I, Jeff Morris, was telling us last year how he was going to put together a team of people to run and bike from Mahwah, NJ to Cape Cod, MA. The reason was simple, to raise money to help in finding a cure for Alzheimer's disease. When we heard this we both said SIGN US UP!!! Both Sue and I live for stuff like this and what better reason then to do it for than for a great cause. As the time drew close to our departure date the talk became reality and then on midnight Thursday, August 20, we all assembled at Jeff’s house for our departure. 6 crazy guys, one little blonde with a ponytail, a 25 foot RV and enough water, Gatorade and nutrition supplements to open up a store took off with Rich Gandon from the Ramapo Times filming us. We broke the trip down into a total of 5 legs, three 10 mile running legs and 2 bike legs one a 20 miler and the other a 10 miler. When it was all said and done everyone covered close to 70 miles each total in distance.

We had 5 people running and biking, Jeff Morris, Dan Meyer, Glenn Haber, Susan Levy and myself. Our support crew was Don Morris, “the Silver Fox”, and Andrew Yorke who both drove, helped with navigation and moral support. Everyone came from different fitness backgrounds, but the goal was always the same: “get to the finish as a team. Dan started us off at a blistering pace in the total darkness wearing a headlamp, a reflective vest and some running clothes. Not much protection against all the wildlife we were thinking about on our way through Harriman and Bear Mountain. Jeff was the second man out in the relay and he had to conquer the hills, again, in darkness. The only thing you could se when you shined the headlamp into the woods were the eyes of the unseen animals looking back at you. Glenn was out next, again, running at such a pace we were ahead of our schedule from these first legs. My leg was 4th and I got to run out of the darkness and into the sunrise. Sue had the early morning run with all the rush hour commuters. We rotated in that order through Friday and into Saturday as we approached our goal.

What I found amazing was how everyone was able to recover so quickly and was able to get into their next leg with less than a couple hours sleep, muscle cramping, soreness and what we hoped was enough food in our system. We all averaged about 4 hours sleep total for the trip. I’d like to say the human body is amazing but it’s not so much the body as it is the mind. The brain is an incredible tool and is more than 75% of the fight. When the brain says “NO” so does the body and one’s attitude.

At some point every member on the team had to step up to the plate and help another member in one way or another. What I learned from this was that it’s really easy to be inspiring, motivating and happy when everything is going great but a true person’s character comes through when things go south and emotions start to come through. I was amazed how everybody put the team first and didn’t let any of that negative stuff set in and take over. I think Don may have gotten the least the sleep of everyone but always made sure the RV was ready for whichever athlete needed it. Andrew took “support crew” to a whole new level as he rode two 20 miles legs of the journey. One with Sue to make sure she was ok in traffic and the other 20 mile leg with me at 4am in the morning. Dan ran to a point of dedication that is inspiring. This guy has some speed and I don’t think he ever slowed down. Glenn, on only his 3rd bike ride of the season, rode like a seasoned pro, undeterred by flat tires, darkness and exhaustion. Jeff, well, I have no words for a guy who organized all of this, had encouragement for everyone all along the way and then busted out a half marathon to make up for a detour.

I’ve always knew this, but this trip confirmed for me that Sue is not only my wife but also my best friend. She stood by me the whole trip, gave me the Susan Levy smile when I needed it and even helped me at the end with the last running leg. I rode her bike leg because I didn’t want her out on the road at 4am riding all alone. 5 hours later Sue and I had the last 10 mile leg to run. I got out there with her and did the first 4 1/2 miles with her and then started to feel lightheaded and dizzy. I jumped back into the RV to get more water and food in my system while Sue stayed out there and just tore up the last 6 miles up hill to the finish line where we all jumped out and did the last 1/2 with her to be greeted by everyone’s family screaming and cheering us on at the end.

In closing I’d like to thank everyone who I spent this journey with. Next to the NY Marathon and my Black Belt test this was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. I couldn’t have done it without the support of everyone involved. All that positive energy that was created by all of us made me realize that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!!

Here are a couple of links, the first is a video taken by Rich Gandon from the Ramapo times at our departure and the second is a write up and interview with Jeff Morris from the Herald Chronicle newspaper from ape Cod.

The Ramapo Times

Newspaper Interview


Walter said...

I'm not surprised. Anything Mike Malandra does is always done with a genuine concern to help or enrich others. He is a leader for the community. When Mike is doing something everyone should take notice. By now most do.

outdoormike said...

Thanks for the kind words Walt :)