The Great Raise Houston — An Adventure Challenge For Charity

Over the past few months, several people have asked me “So how exactly did you and Anna get involved with Sun & Ski and riding the MS 150?  You especially are the laziest person on the face of the earth!”  I wish the second part wasn’t true, but it was until a few months ago….

Last year, Anna and I had a unique opportunity to participate as one of ten teams selected to run around Houston and surrounding cities in an adventure challenge for charity called “The Great Raise Houston”.  I know… that sentence was extremely long!!  Sun & Ski Sports was a sponsor, as many of the tasks on the first episode hinge on the contestants’ abilities to cycle several miles and kayak 5 miles down Buffalo Bayou.  At the time, our unfit bodies were more entertaining for television than anything.  While we enjoyed both kayaking and cycling, we just weren’t meant for the physical aspect of the competition.  After the show, we met Barry Goldware, CEO of Sun & Ski Sports, who challenged us to take advantage of the resources within Sun & Ski Sports to lose weight by cycling and improve our lifestyle.  The road has been, and continues to be, very tough, but Anna and I have lost some serious poundage, and the entire experience has made us appreciate Houston and the outdoors… not to mention the years of our lives we have added by vowing to live a healthy, active lifestyle…

But back to the “Great Raise Houston”… Joyce & Uchenna Agu, season 7 winners of “The Amazing Race”, decided to put their $1 million winnings into action by giving back to the city they love so dearly.  They figured that Houston is actually a pretty cool place, and that by creating an “Amazing Race”esque show centered around the hidden jewels of the city, they could help raise money for causes near and dear to their heart.  As cast members, Anna and I competed both physically and financially for the top prize.  As fundraisers, the entire cast was tasked with creatively raising as much money as possible for two very important Houston charities: The Houston Food Bank’ Kid’s Cafe and Casa de Esperanza.  Both are programs geared at aiding children in and around our community.  For more information, or to donate to these two awesome charities, go to http://www.thegreatraise.com

“The Great Raise Houston” originally aired in February and March, but they are replaying this weekend only!  Tune in to KHOU Channel 11 (CBS affiliate) from 3-5p on Both Saturday and Sunday, June 20-21st. If you think Anna has been snippy to me on our video logs, you should see that crazy woman on TV!

Our Castmate and friend, Zubi, has organized a viewing Party on Saturday, June 20th, from 2-5pm at the Union Bar & Lounge on 2708 Bagby downtown.  Everyone over 21 is welcome!  Come meet some of the cast members!  Anna and I will be there with bells on.  Seriously.  She has me dressed up like a reindeer….

Shifting Gears — Wayne & Anna Tackle New Endeavours

Once again, Anna’s gonna hate me for a long blog!
We had a blast training for and completing the MS 150 with the assistance of Sun & Ski Sports.  It was one of those things to mark off of life’s “bucket list”.  Through their expertise and vast knowledge, we were able to achieve what we thought was the unthinkable.  With just an ounce of drive and determination, any able-bodied person can make the cycling journey.  Two weeks after the actual MS 150, Team Sun & Ski member Mandy and I, at the last minute, decided we would ride our bikes from Houston to Beaumont during the Tour du Rouge Day 1 of 6 ride…. that’s 82 miles!  On that same day, Anna caught some waves wakeboarding (a heck of alot funner than waterboarding) at the Houston Watersports Complex (http://www.nautiqueway.com).  The videos from those two adventures are upcoming, I promise (all that MS 150 training time slammed me at my real-person job… just trying to play catch-up!)
 
So a few weeks ago, Anna and I were talking about “what’s next”.  Ok, we’ve trained to ride a bike and came to the end of that journey, so the most logical thing would be to push ourselves a little further, right?  With that in mind, we have two very important announcements to make….
1) We are going to train for…. stay seated everyone… the Chevron Half-Marathon in January!  Why is this important?  Well, in case you didn’t know, Anna and I are formerly very heavy people who, up to this point, had absolutely no interest in running anywhere but to the donut shop.  In junior high, I HATED running the one mile run every few months.  Actually, I remember having between 16-18 minute miles.  There was no reason to get all worked up about running around the soccer fields… it should be VERY interesting running 13.1 miles throughout Houston.  I always heard marathoners have toe nails fall off, and all sorts of strange maladies.  As time goes by, I will let you know if that’s the case….
 
Cycling season is now over, but somehow Anna and I must continue our weight loss journey.  The bikes were actually extremely effective at helping us shed the pounds (phase 1), but they are not very good at helping us further shape and tone our bodies.  So, after careful consideration of other alternatives, Anna and I have decided a way to enter our phase 2 of weight loss… join a gym!  So, our next big announcement….
 
2) We are partnering with FIT Athletic Club (http://www.fitathletic.com) (corner of West Gray and Waugh, above the Marshall’s store…. and conveniently located next to Luby’s! Not that I’ve seen the inside of that restaurant in the past 4 months).  We had seriously considered joining some of the major chains, and some other mom-and-pop ones, but we opted for FIT for several reasons, which you will see on future video blogs.  One of my biggest selling points is the convenience and scheduling of group workouts (Spin Classes, Pilates, etc.).  Anna likes the amenities and cleanliness of the bathrooms.  The locker rooms are seriously decked out with more Q-Tips and Scope than anyone would use in a lifetime!  Also, they don’t have that “gym funk” smell.  I am not sure exactly how old the gym equipment is, but it looks like it can’t be more than a few weeks old.  Meticulously cleaned and cared for, you’re not going to find pools of sweat on the stationary bike handlebars!  Also, I haven’t had to wait in any lines, even in peak periods throughout the day, to use any of the gym equipment.  We are still new to the “gym work-out” world, so I’m gonna say that as of now, our video blogs from FIT Athletic will be, at the very least, entertaining.
 
So, that’s what I have to share with you now.  In the coming weeks, and throughout the summer, look for updates regarding our FIT Athletic Club work-outs, our running updates while training for the Chevron Houston Marathon, as well as fun and exciting Summer adventures highlighting all the sports you didn’t know Sun & Ski could outfit you for! 

Video #10 — Wayne & Anna Ride the MS 150: Part 2 — Day 2 of 1

Video # 9 — Wayne & Anna Ride the MS 150: Part 1 — The Night Before

MS 81: Cycling Mile Slimdown

As of right now, I SHOULD have completed at least 50 miles, enjoying a quick lunch in Bellville.  Oddly enough, I am in my lounge pants, having watched yet another re-run of “Rock of Love”.  Yes, it was a major disappointment that Day 1 got cancelled.  We are totally at the mercy of Mother Nature.  However, I am proud of the MS Society for making such a difficult decision as cancelling Day 1 for the safety of the riders. 

Last night, Anna, myself, Ryan, and Mandy (two cool peeps we met on Team Sun & Ski) purchased a couple of hotel rooms in Columbus, so that we can chill out the night before, and rise at 6am instead of 4:30.  The ride starts at 8, and is still the longest we have ever taken on.  We have decided we want to attempt the Bechtel Challenge Route, which puts us on a roller coaster ride through Bastrop Park.  I figure that we need to push ourselves in a way we never have before. 

The weather events of this weekend should not deter any of the 13,000 riders from accomplishing the completion of the MS 150.  We all have a mission to accomplish: raise as much money as possible for the 400,000 Americans (20,000 Texans) living with MS. Yes, we had a minor set back, but we can do it!

The Eve of the Eve Before the MS 150 — Cycling Reflections

3 months ago, Anna and I began on a journey which, as anyone who has been overweight knows, is not very easy.  Sun & Ski had a plan for us to ride bicycles.  And ride more bicycles.  Now, I am telling you that at the time the longest I really wanted to ride a bike was to the donut shop and back.  I’m serious.  It’s not that I hated riding a bike, but I just didn’t see the point.  I had a mountain bike that I rode on occasion, but it was too tiring to ride on long hauls.  We were introduced to our wonderful, amazing Marin Portofinos and the rest is history!

This entire week leading up to the MS 150, I have been reflecting on the events of the past few months, and wanted to share one important observation I have made…

CYCLISTS ARE THE FABRIC OF AMERICA

Immediately following the events of 9/11, there was a resurgence of Patriotism in this country that I had not seen really since the 80’s, and prior to that, the 50’s (so I’ve heard countless times from my parents).  I remember everyone was proud to be an American, flags on display on porches and automobiles.  Neighbors were helping neighbors, and each were working together at the time to strengthen one another and provide support in trying times.  With the natural, short-sidedness of Humans, that fervent Patriotism soon faded.  I suppose we all simply shifted back to our day-to-day stresses and forgot what it was like to compliment one another and reinforce positivity and accomplishment.  We seemed to forget the feeling we got when helping out a stranger for no other reason than that it’s the decent thing to do.

Let’s back up to 3 months ago, and the beginning of this blog.  Every weekend, we rode in rallies and training exercises designed to push us harder and harder to finally uncover our cycling abilities.  It is the men and women that we see each and every weekend that have inspired us to go further than we ever thought was possible.  Cycling is the one sport where EVERYONE, regardless of ability, can come out and enjoy fitness and the outdoors in a truly relaxed and chill environment.  This is also the only sport I can think of to have Democrats, Republicans, and Independents of all different ethnicities and socioeconomic classes coming together for a weekend to support one amazing cause.

Again, this is my first MS 150, but I have hundreds of miles of experiences with these cyclists.  Every single one of them has a life, with or without kids, parents, jobs, and common everyday stresses.  Each week, we all put our lives on hold for a brief, albeit amazing, several hours of camaraderie, friendship, and physical activity.  I have met some awesome people on Team Sun & Ski, and each one of them has inspired me to reach my weight loss goals.  I know you are probably reading this, not understanding what I mean.  Focus on the paragraph where I am talking about 9/11, and neighbors helping neighbors.  Do you remember what that was like?  Do you remember having random strangers asking you if you need help, or wish you well?  Can you recall when you felt you were an important part of something much bigger?  If not, join a cycling community and you’ll understand…

Instant Wayne & Anna Updates/ Fox 26 News Appearance!!

Well, Anna and I have done just about everything we can to train for the MS 150.  It’s only 4 days away!  I did some research on weather conditions, and it looks like a 40 percent chance of rain on day 1!  Weathermen are never right, but I still wanted to know what “percent chance” means.  As it turns out, it literally means that, at some point in the day, 40% of the area will experience precipitation.  I just think that’s dumb.  It’s like me saying there’s a 30% chance someone is going to drive on I-10 today, knowing that about a third of Houston drives on that road.

Ok, enough tangents already…. over the coming few days, as well as the ride itself, Anna and I will post updates to what we are doing, thinking, experiencing on our new twitter account!  You can follow us at twitter.com/cyclingslimdown.  It sure will be fun, as I have never accessed Twitter before in my life!  I suppose it’s appropriate, as I guess the Cycling Slimdown personifies the twittification of cycling’s future.  By the way, “twittification” is a made-up word.  My friend Gary believes we’ve gone way too far in making up twitter-ish words like “Tweet”, “Twitterific”, etc.  But my whole thing is why not make up words, right?  It actually makes you sound intelligent when some people think they know the word, give a puzzled face, and pretend that they have always known that word.

Oh, before I forget, don’t forget to watch Fox 26 News between 8am-8:30 tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15th, TAX DAY! Though Anna and I won’t be giving important tax tips, we WILL be discussing the MS 150 and our Cycling Slimdown Program!