On a brisk fall morning, a garage door opens in East Anchorage.
Bundled up against the cold, Kikkan Randall straps on a bright pink helmet, and edges her bike out into the chilly air.
“Woo! It is dark,” she whoops as she pedals toward the Alaska Club East.
For those who know Kikkan, many would think this is just another workout for the five-time Olympian and gold medalist.
But these days, Kikkan is fighting a different battle: Breast cancer. And yet, she refuses to let it slow her down.
“My body is used to being pushed. So, I think, continuing to have that little bit of challenge in there, it’s a really good thing for me,” she says as she gulps water.
The workout she does now? She calls it her G.I. Jane workout.
“I said when I shaved my head that I felt like G.I. Jane,” Randall laughs.
A combination of high intensity and strength, it pushes Randall, and helps her feel normal.
“That’s what I’m used to doing every day, is getting that physical activity in, so there have been some days where it’s really only given me the mental boost of knowing I went out and did it,” Randall says.
One thing she’s learned during this journey is that she’s had to admit — she’s not Superwoman.
“I’ve had to change my expectations. Maybe I can’t do as much as I’m used to doing,” she admits.
And yet, Kikkan continues to shock everyone, including herself.
“A lot of times, I’ve felt, surprised myself in how good I’ve felt. “
There are days where it’s hard to stay positive, she says. Days where those thoughts in the back of her mind are hard to keep at bay.
“There are certainly times where I get frustrated, angry, concerned about the life-long effect of this,” Randall says with tears glinting in her eyes. “But I can’t change any of that. So, I try to acknowledge those thoughts, kind-of re-frame. Remind myself about the good prognosis, the great things I do have in front of me, that I can control. “
She’s reminded every day of what she’s fighting for: Her 2-year-old son, Breck.
“It kind of just reminds me, I want to do everything I can to fight this, because I want to be around for him as long as I can,” Randall grins. “And through all of this, the fact that I can, get to continue being his mom and doing all this stuff kinda gives me strength and that motivation to get through. “
With the final round of chemotherapy behind her, Kikkan now looks ahead to the next step of the plan: A lumpectomy and then a round of radiation.
And to no one’s shock and surprise, she’s already signed up for some ski races this winter.
“When I have my helmet on, and I’m skiing, biking, running, whatever, I get to feel like my normal, Kikkan self. And I think that’s an important way of helping me deal with this thing that I can’t really have control over, but I can control that.”
This content was originally published here.