It’s been two weeks since the big day — my participation in the Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon. I’ve sat down to write this final post several times and have been unable to put into words what I felt. Maybe writing this makes it too final. Maybe it’s too emotional. Maybe. But here goes.
The weekend started with a potluck and team meeting. The coaches specifically acknowledge each team member, recognizing his or her accomplishments. For me, Coach Mike recognized my new “I think I can” attitude. He’s right. It wasn’t until about two months ago that I really thought I would be able to accomplish the feat. This new level of confidence and courage will help me with anything I try to achieve going forward.
The team members doing the long distance competed on Saturday. I got up early to cheer them on and watch it unfold, which helped me prepare mentally for the next day. They all did a great job — quite the inspiration.
Sleep didn’t come easy the night before the big day, and honestly, I went to bed too late. I got out of bed at 5:00 a.m. and met the coaches. I was more nervous than I thought I would be, and increasingly so as the start time approached.
The race begins
Once I hit the water, those nerves turned to excitement. It took me about one-quarter mile to reach my stride, and then I enjoyed it. Most people struggle with the swim and don’t like the hoards of people around them. But I stuck to the outer lane and didn’t mind the occasional bump or tap from a fellow swimmer. I came out of the water with a big grin on my face and a true feeling of elation. When asked how it went, I remember saying, “It was fun!”
Unlike the swim, the bike ride was agonizing work the whole time. Both my legs and back were hurting me. I suspect my right side had been compensating for the left’s fracture and so had issues of its own. I never got into a groove. I completed the course focusing on one pedal stroke at a time. I must have looked pathetic because passersby kept telling me to keep up the good work. One woman actually gave me a complete pep talk, saying all I needed to do was finish. That was nice of her.
I wish the ride would have come as easy as it did on the practice run two weeks prior, but I’m glad to have finished. Turns out there were about 10 people slower than me. I’m surprised there were any; I could have sworn they all passed me.
Once I completed the ride course, I dismounted my bike and walked it a few hundred yards to the bike rack. That walk wasn’t easy. My body hurt. My friend, Suzanne Gorham, was waiting, ready to start the running event. She did a great job, and we completed the race as a relay team. Overall, we finished in the last quarter of all participants, but because there were only a few relay teams, we finished third in our division (relay+age).
I am grateful to have accomplished all I have and to have participated in the competition at all, given my injury. I am inspired to return again next year and complete all three events. I’ll continue to swim, ride and strength-train, working toward a slow return to walking/running in August.
We continue to fundraise through July. I have raised $4,260 so far and would love to hit $5,000 before August 1st. Any contribution, big or small, is much appreciated. You can be assured that your dollars will help cancer patients right here in our community.
The morning of the race, I wrote this bible verse as my Facebook status, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13.”
I think that summarizes the experience for me. On my own, I had no ability to accomplish any of this. I was completely out of my comfort zone and utterly reliant on others. I think it’s good to be that way every once in a while. It gives me proper perspective. I give thanks to God, my coaches, all of my team members and everyone who supported me along this journey.