Right now, I am standing on Zuma Beach in Malibu, about to kick off the 2008 Malibu Triathlon. It's early, it's cold, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. Why? This event is a benefit for the Pediatric Cancer Research arm at CHLA.
Just standing here with Adam Harrison (runner) and his buddy Brendan Carroll (swimmer) is sanding up to kick cancer in the pants. Last year this event raised over $700,000 for CHLA's cancer research efforts. I hope it tops $1M today. We'll see. Money is key ingredient in the fight on cancer—it takes greenbacks to pay the researchers, run the administrative aspects of a study, and to buy insanely expensive equipment needed to examine and process data gathered from kids. The first time Jo Ann and I met Dr Mascarenhas, he asked if we would allow Pablo's tumors and treatment to be part of the National Wilms' Study. Without hesitation, we said Yes. And that was before we knew what it was all about.
Somewhere on this beach are nearly all the doctors that are working to save Pablo's life—Drs Mascarenhas, Marcio Malogolowkin, Stein, Austin. And Terry Green from the CHLA Foundation. I don't know how many other CHLA people are here, about to compete beside me, but I understand it's over 150. Last year there were only 50. I like the uptick. These people fight every day on the front lines of the cancer war, and they all woke up at 4 a.m. today to fight in a unique way.
Last year, I did this triathlon with two other friends. I didn't raise a penny. Not because I didn't care about CHLA, but because I'd raised money for another event earlier in the year—a ride from London to Paris to see the finish of the Tour de France. I couldn't fathom hitting up all my friends for a second dip into the wallet. As I write this, I know that the Pablove Foundation is good for $100,000—including the 'Give Listen Help' CD compilation. And we still have some big ticket donors waiting to write checks (waiting for our official IRS Non-Profit Organization number to be granted). While that money was not raised specifically for this event, this is one of the many many ways I plan to support the donations you all have given us.
I can speak for our entire family when I say that we are determined to back the cash that's been given to the foundation with action. How can riding a bike 18 miles and bone-crushing speed help anyone, you might ask? Simple: me being here, along with thousands of other people, is a giant energy field buzzing along the coast of California. Among the masses this morning, there are parents of cancer kids, like me, and there are cancer survivors of all ages. There are all these docs, nurses, administrators, development (fund raising) folks—who, arguably, have the most gut-wrenching vantage point of all, cos they see all the cancer kids. There are friends of cancer survivors. There are loved ones of those who didn't make it (I am also one of those). And, of course, there are people here who are just along for the competition. No matter what, we all come together, and we create a massive source of intention, light, determination. POWER. It's freakish.
If you have never competed in an event like this, or witnessed it as a spectator, I can tell you it's like nothing else. I have done dozens of races, time trials (since I am doing only the biking part of the triathlon, this is a time trial, or sprint, for me), centuries and double centuries. But there is a part of what I'm about to embark on that is unknown for me: knowing that my son is asleep at home, about to embark on the full throttle cancer treatment of radiation and chemotherapy. I am a little scared that I won't be able to access the 'right stuff' out there today. Fear is something I grapple with every hour of every day, and I know it never does me good.
On this side of my first pedal stroke, I can also feel a six-letter rage inside me: c.a.n.c.e.r.
If I can control my breath, and relax on the bike in the first .5K, I will be able to utilize that rage. If I get all up in my head, and the rage comes spewing out all over the place the moment I settle into my saddle, I will be angry at something else—my brain. Riding a bike very fast, like so many other things in life, isn't what it seems. It's not about brute force or going Koo-Koo for Cocoa Puffs. For a trained athlete, it's more about grace and surrender than the grinding of teeth and the mashing of gears—some 'wax on, wax off' s**t. This is what Lance Armstrong has mastered in his career (that link shows one of Lance's TdF time trials).
No matter what happens out on the road today, I am reminded once again of the mirror image that exists—breathing, grace, acceptance—between riding my bicycle and being a cancer papa.
Pix and tricks later today.