Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tribute to my mom, Part 1 - 2005 Bethel Spring Series

In September 2000, my mom was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. After fighting for two years, her condition started to deteriorate.

In July 2002, in a miraculous race, I managed to win the CT Criterium Championships by placing a close second in the race (Nutmeg State Games). After the race I called two people to tell them what happened - my mom and my future fiancee.

In 2003 my mom's condition worsened. An inoperable tumor deprived her of sustenance, the outcome inevitable. We talked a lot about her preparations for "that time". And she still did all the things she did to try and recover.

Even in her bed-ridden state, when July 2003 rolled around, my mom asked about the Nutmeg State Games. I wasn't thinking about training or racing and told my mom so. We talked about fighting for survival and I told her that from my point of view it was okay to give up. She had fought hard for almost three years and at that point, bed-ridden, things were inevitable. Time to simply relax could only be good for her. That night she announced to the family that she was giving up her fight against cancer. It seemed to lift a great weight off her shoulders as she could let that responsibility go.

I promised her I'd win two things for her - the Bethel Spring Series and the CT Criterium Championships. I told her that I'll do this "after". As we'd already had our talk about fighting, she knew what I meant. It was one of the last times we talked before her condition deteriorated to the point that I really couldn't talk to her.

She passed away August 9, 2003, surrounded by all of her immediate family.

By that time I'd ballooned up to 191+ lbs (I'm 5'7"). That winter I started training in earnest. Motivation is an incredible thing. I'd spend two or three hours on the trainer, riding at virtually race pace for an hour at a time. I went to Florida with the Bethel Spring Series co-promoter for a week long training camp. And then went to California for a two week long camp.

I came to the 2004 Bethel Spring Series lighter but not in ideal shape. Nevertheless, after some lucky breaks and some very hard fought finishes, I was tied for the lead coming into the last race. I lost the sprint by finishing third and I was second overall in the Series.

I was determined to do better in 2005.

I went to Florida again, California again, and I was almost 30 pounds lighter than my peak weight. Once again I fought hard during the Series. I started the last race of the Series with a one point lead over two other racers, one of which was last year's winner. The way the points work, if we all placed in the top 7, whoever beat the other would win the Series. It was a nerve wracking race, hard fought, under sunny skies.

One of my brothers (and his wife and son) and my dad were there on the last day of the 2005 Bethel Spring Series, as well as a lot of friends. He recorded things from his point of view.

This is part of that tape.


BikeProf said...

Aki--Awesome tribute and awesome finish. My dad was diagnosed with brain cancer last November, so your tribute to your mom hit me especially hard. See you at the races on Sunday.

Aki said...

Thanks. And my heart goes out to you and your dad. As you might imagine I found it pretty difficult to edit this clip (and part 2) because it's very emotional in so many ways.

In the end though I view it as a celebration of and paying homage to my mom. And that makes it a good thing.

See you Sunday

Jim said...

Hi Aki,
Great story and video! What software are you using for editing?

My mother also died of cancer. Despite her fortitude, the fight against cancer was emotionally wrenching for the entire family.

It was nice to read how you channeled that love and emotion so positively.

Go Fast ... JIM

Aki said...

Thanks! And... (this sounds like my last comment here so I'll stop). But I understand how hard it is when a family member is stricken. For me I was fortunate enough that it drew everyone together. There are two things my mom said right before she became somewhat unaware. "I feel so much love from all of you" and "I've never suffered so much". It was after that second statement that I suggested to her that it would be okay to give up the fight.

A fortuitous thing happened just over a week after my mom passed - my nephew was born (my bro, his wife, and their now 2 kids live in the same house as my dad). This addition of life and energy created a lot of positive vibes in the house and (in my opinion) basically saved my dad.

To answer the technical question...
Software - Microsoft Movie Maker. Not ideal, starting to run into limitations, but works pretty well for me.

Anonymous said...

Awesome. By a matter of inches and to think how hard you must have worked to do fulfil your promise. looked good man. Still waiting for those sprinting lessons.

Anonymous said...

It's hard not to repeat what's already been said. But I did want to let you know that your two posts are a wonderful and eloquent tribute. Your mom must have been a remarkable woman. I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to meet her. I'm looking forward to watching the clips (can't now since I'm at work - ugh)

(ps - I couldn't find the comments link for your part 2, so I'm posting this here...)

Aki said...

g - the kicker is that I almost never beat Morgan in a field sprint but somehow I did it that day. If you look I veer to the left just after the line - I almost hit the mailboxes there because I threw my bike so aggressively my right hand came off the bars.

maybe I'll be able to give you a sprint lesson Sunday :)

soc - I checked the post and I somehow disabled comments. Enabled them.

thx both of you,

Anonymous said...

Just got to watch the vid - VERY VERY awesome! I actually did notice that you veered & thought maybe you and Morgan bumped. Nice to know the back story - on a lot of different levels. Well done! Thanks for sharing this with us.