Reflections of 2008

It has been a great year, despite a few set backs my racing season has consisted of over 2,365miles! And probably double that in training! Yet those miles are very significant as they equal AVON dollars $16,550 to be exact! Wow that equals a lot of free Mammograms that AVON of Puerto Rico can support during the month of October in partnership with the American Cancer Society!

So I thought it would be fun to reflect on how I achieved those miles, through blood sweat and let us not even imagine how many endurolytes, hammer gels and race caps I consumed or how many bottles of Perpetuem I guzzled back in training and racing.

So when I found my self at the Surf City marathon running in a torrential downpour did I quit? No I kept on running! It felt great to be alive and laugh at how ridiculous I must have looked in scanty running gear but finish it I did with a personal best! A few weeks later on a sadder note my Mother in law passed away from cancer and the next day I was picked up at 4.30am to do my first double century of the year with Planet Ultra Butterfield! Despite lack of sleep, guilt at not being at home to support family forgetting to bring warm clothing yet remembering my Perpetuem I set off for 200 beautiful freezing miles of cycling. My hands were so numb I could barely squeeze the brakes my feet where like blocks of ice, but I knew deep down to dig deep in to the pain box as every mile was a dollar for the Crusade against Breast Cancer and while my discomfort was temporary there was many women fighting chemotherapy and children without mothers. I finished that double century late evening in pitch black! Grateful to get off the bike! I went on to complete the Californian Triple Crown series doing Hemet double century which in 2008 had the route changed from being flat to relatively hilly in the final 100 miles and the Eastern Sierra 200 which had to be the most beautiful scenic ride I have done in California. It almost felt I was riding in Europe with the mountains and lakes as a backdrop. Perhaps one of my most challenging moments came when I signed up for the Blaseman iron race for MS, just for background information in February I had a nasty encounter with the Californian surf in full scuba gear I had unwittingly misjudged the surf and found myself on the wrong end of an angry wave and landed head first into the hard sand! That experience left me a little apprehensive of surf so you can only imagine when I turned up at Huntington Beach to swim 2.4miles a surfing tournament taking place! Oh no I told my husband I cannot do that! But as usually he just looked at me and told me I would be fine to keep moving forward and get out of the surf zone and swim! Actually I wish I had been a spectator as nearly half of the triathletes opted for the safer route of a duathlon and I being Suzy ran in and then out very fast only to have my husband yell at me get back in and duck the waves!! I finally made it out past the surf and began my swim I opted for swimming around the buoy several times then get out of the water and re enter as when I finally decided it was time to exit the water the surf had grown higher I doggy paddled and finally asked a fellow Triathlete if she could help me negotiate the waves as I was feeling nervous at being slam dunked! That athlete was great showed great compassion and patience and finally led me to the beach where my husband thought it was very amusing, but I did the swim!!

In October the weather here in Southern California had been really hot so when I arrived at Angeles Crest 100 miler I did not have arm warmers or leg warmers just my pink hammer jersey and shorts but I really thought I would warm up while I was climbing. I began to climb and was feeling warmer but then the unexpected happened the fog crept in making visibility non existent, wishing I had a red blinky light on the back on my bike I carefully negotiated the long uphill, it was raining hard and it was really cold. Just before the turnaround I cycled through a tunnel which is probably the scariest thing I have done all season zero vis, wet road as I entered the tunnel all you could here was other cyclists shouting it was almost better to close your eyes than try to squint several people went down in that tunnel and the bad thing was I had to go through that tunnel twice!! During that century over 2/3rds of the cyclists would quit, I decided to stop at a place called Newcomb ranch, I was shivering and thought I could get some plastic bags to wear I would be great. When I entered the Ranch there was already several cyclists drinking whiskey and hot tea trying to get warm. When I started fashioning several plastic bags a cyclist looked at me in disbelief and said you are not going out there again are you? I looked at her and told her I really needed the miles and it was only 15 more miles and it would all be over!! This cyclist AMY gave me her waterproof gloves, wind jacket and ear warmers, her cell number to return the clothing and wished me luck!! I thought that was the coolest thing! As soon as I opened the door the wind and rain was relentless I hugged the white line and even going downhill I was barely moving! But I did not call it a day and went on to finish the 100 miles at the top of Mount Wilson the vis was about 2 feet!!

So I train in good weather and end up racing in adverse conditions yet when conditions are great I still manage to find drama! As when I did the Long Beach marathon I set off in the car 3 hours before the start of the race as we approached Long Beach we were met with a HUGE traffic jam! About 5 miles out but I was cool as I still had 2 hours before the race started yet those cars did not move and I soon found myself listening to me husband say I cannot get you any closer you will have to run from here!! Talk about a warm up! I ran 2 miles to the starting line and was literally at the back as soon as the gun went off! I found myself having to dodge walkers and baby strollers, but ended up having a great race.

Despite the drama and the racing I have enjoyed the challenges and being able to give back. I have helped at the Ladies Danskin in Disneyland by being a swim angel! And probably my most rewarding of all motivational talks came when I addressed a group of women in Orange County coached by Martha Szufnarowski. I was really inspired by their faces as I shared with them my journey of ultra triathlons and why I do them. They asked me so many questions and shared with me their successes and their fears! They laughed at my adventures and challenges and asked questions about my fears!!

It has been a good year! AVON and the American Cancer Society are naming a room after me at the new Hospital facility being built in San Juan Puerto Rico for my efforts at contributing more than $44,256 in 3 years through my racing! It will have a total of 34 rooms and 19 parking lots and will be a temporary shelter free of cost for those cancer patients who live outside the San Juan area and do not have a safe, pleasant & comfortable place to be when they come from various municipalities across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean to receive their outpatient treatments. Jose Quinones General Manager of Avon has played a huge role in this new facility and will even have the AVON logo on the building!!

This is where I say thank you Hammer for the great pink uniform, the pink glasses and helmet I wear by Rudy Project, the pink Brooks running shoes, Profile Design, Cannondale, Kool n Fit, Tri all3cases, polar monitors, serfas tires all these great companies helping me with great products and my husband for supporting my quest to get as many miles as possible for the AVON crusade against Breast Cancer!!

So next time you see me in my signature Hammer Pink Uniform with a smile on my face I am on a mission to enjoy the journey and not forget how fortunate I am to be able to swim , bike and run,

Suzanna Degazon