Final pre-race thoughts

It's been over 10 years since I first attempted to qualify for the Super Bowl of Ultracycling races, 6 since I achieved it and the day is finally here for the start of it. Since arriving here in Oceanside on Thursday, the days have been filled with pre-race setup, inspection and meetings. I'm thankful to be surrounded here by an amazing group of people who are willing to sacrifice so much to be here to help see me to the finish line of the Race Across America.  When we get there, the accomplishment will be just as much their's as it is mine. 

In a recent interview, I mentioned that Speaking Up was "truly life changing". Cliche or not, it is the truth. I've gotten the opportunity throughout the last couple of days to spend time reflecting on how life was. How life is. With the grace of God, I was given a second opportunity. One which has allowed me to enjoy the morning snuggles of the Lil Boo Bear. To see the smile on her face as I watched my amazing wife dip my daughter's feet into the ocean for the first time. And today, when Fred Boethling calls, "Mr. Welch" to the starting line as he has many times, we will line up as a voice for all of the Cameron's who are battling silently.

When we first started this journey, I told Michael, Parker, David and Grace we were going to help people. Later, I would tell the crew, if we pulled out of the race in the desert of Day 1 of the race, it would still be a win if we helped even one person find the courage to SpeakUp about their depression and/or anxiety. Although, I still whole-heartedly believe that, we don't plan on stopping at one. Not one day. Not one person. Powered by you, a relentlessly encouraging community, we will do our best to spread Cameron's message of love across the country before arriving in Annapolis less than 12 days from today. Your love and support will be what gets us there. If you haven't already, please consider making a donation to the Cameron K Gallagher Foundation here. We would love to reach our goal of $50,000 before the end of the race. 

The race will be a roller coaster of emotions for both the crew and I. I can promise you, we will feel good and we will feel terrible.  If you would like to follow along on the journey with us, there are links on our homepage of where to find current race standings, updates from the crew, live video feeds and links to our Facebook page. Please be sure to leave a message as they will all be read to me throughout the race. I truly find inspiration in each of you. 

Getting the word out

I'm honored and humbled to have been asked by the Cameron K. Gallagher Foundation to share my story in their April newsletter. I'm eternally thankful for all of the compassion, love and support I have received from my friends, family and community since I found the courage to #SpeakUp for the first time. In just 64 days, we will take my story and combine it with Cameron's mission nationwide in an effort to #encourageothers when we line up at the start of this year's Race Across America in Oceanside, California.

If you would like to read what I wrote, my words can be found here.  

http://www.ckgfoundation.org/speakupnewsblog/andy-welch-speaksup

Endorphin Fitness Garneau Lighten Up Inc. Serfas

 

 

Daddy Daughter Day

For the last 8 months, my favorite day of the week has always been what quickly became known as Daddy Daughter Day. The first few were a little nerve racking for Jenn when she had to go back to work at the end of her maternity leave as we worried about not if I could care for Tenley but what antics we would get into. At the beginning, the days consisted of lots of time receiving daddy snuggles and praying she wouldn't poop until Jenn got home. Now she is getting more and more mobile every day which allows us to get out share our fun with the world.

This week was a little different. Instead of bubbles and reading time, we decided it was a great day to give back. We started by helping a close friend prepare a couple sets of wheels for the new United Althetic chairs to be used during the Monument Avenue 10k on Saturday.  

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Then we made our way over to the 10k expo where I got to share my story and Cameron's mission with some good people. I was also able to get in a few hours of desert acclimation training on the trainer inside the sauna of the Arther Ashe Center. 

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On Saturday morning, we extended the day a few hours while Jenn ran the 10k. While waiting for her, we made our way up to the SpeakUp cheer station for a little bit. I apologize to the runners of Richmond for not cheering louder. It seems someone finally found my mute button and I'm not sad about it. 

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Serenity and Discovery - Thank you!

Despite the mockery from some, safe places have existed for longer than any of us have been on this planet. They are the places we go when we need to change the direction of our thinking.  Mechanics retreat to the garage. Gardners to the yard. Some find solace in the written word while escaping through literary masterpieces. For Cameron and I, we both used excerise as our safe place. She ran. I ride.

These places exist because all of us are in need of places absent of judgement. Places full of inclusion not exclusion. Places full of love. Places to unwind.

It is very rare for someone to have such a strong tie to a place they have never visited like I do. Or to be so grateful for the Lord putting people into our lives when we most need them. For the longest, time I heard stories of how my sister would visit a local farm on a regular basis. Of how great she felt after leaving and her anticipation to go back. Of the feeling she felt as a mother knowing her son felt so welcomed and included while visiting. All of the while hiding the fact she went because it calmed her anxiety. An anxiety which has proven to be debilitating at times. Her place?

On the surface, you will see Chipping Twigs Farm as a supplier of healthy produce to their local community. Once you visit the farm, you quickly realize it is a special place. It is a place where Farmer Kevin and Crystal want people to stay. They encourage folks both young and old to learn by doing. Because of this, you have to be on constant lookout for who may or not be in control of the "Big Tractor" as my nephew calls it.

Farmer Kevin and Crystal may not have known what they were building when they started Chipping Twigs Farm. That it would ultimately turn into a safe place for others. That their love and compassion would save a stranger one day. A stranger who would ultimately become family. The love in which Kevin and Crystal have surrounded others with is immeasurable so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, they were the first to sponsor a timestation for this year's Race Across America in honor of Cameron's message.

   A single plot of land where both serenity and discovery lay right next to each other.  

  A single plot of land where both serenity and discovery lay right next to each other.  

Today and everyday, we are thankful for everyone who are like Kevin and Crystal and places such as Chipping Twigs Farm. We are humbled and privileged to race on your behalf Kevin and Crystal.  If you would like to join Farmer Kevin and Crystal in spreading our story in the Race Across America, please consider sponsoring a timestation of your own by visiting our online store