After 6. Long. Months, it’s official.
I am a triathlete.
Sunday, 7/31, I participated in the local triathlon, Tri-for-a-Cure. It’s a women’s only event and all funds raised go to further breast cancer research. On Sunday, we were told that unofficial totals were that we, the participants, collected over a million dollars for breast cancer research. Go us!!
I’ve written about this before. And if you have spent any time with me at all, I have no doubt that I have driven you absolutely crazy with my stress and worry and fear of not being good enough.
Sunday started for me at 7:30. I got to the venue and set up my transition area – where we dump the swim stuff and pick up the bike for that leg. I met some women and we were all feeling a great anticipation. Those of us who were first-timers had no idea what to expect.
I picked up my timing chip – it was an ankle strap that would record my time for each stage of the race. Then I picked up my wetsuit and wandered down towards the beach for the start of the swim.
I did, though, stop by the medical station to see what was in my eye. It felt like I had a small animal in there. And of course, I kept rubbing it.
I caught sight of my brother. He came to support me and represent the family. Mum and Dad were not able to come, so Bro was there. Then my friend, the K2Kid, and her husband came to cheer me on. It was a HUGE help that they were there. Since I had signed up alone, and trained alone, it was nice to know I wasn’t alone for this day.
All the athletes made their way over to the start area for opening remarks, etc. But since we were all in our wetsuits, we were also all cooking in the sun. It was SO HOT!! The event itself didn’t start until 10am, so the sun was high and hot.
The swim portion was broken up into waves so that 1,100 women wouldn’t be plunging into the water all at once. We were all given color-coded swim caps so that we knew when we had to go. The first wave is reserved for Survivors – women who have won their battle against cancer. It was so cool to see all these incredible women who will NEVER give up. After they go, there is a 5 minute wait before the second wave went. Then, every 3 minutes after that, each consecutive wave entered the water for the 1/3 mile swim.
I was in Wave 3, so thankfully I didn’t have too long to wait. One lady beside me told me to just relax and take my time and look around for the experience of it all. So that’s what I did. When it was my turn, I walked into the ocean with 100 of my sisters, to begin. I didn’t start swimming until I knew I wouldn’t get kicked in the face. Then, I did just what my new friend told me. I took my time. I passed some people. Some people passed me. Despite having a stitch in my side from about 2 minutes in, I finished that portion with ease.
Bro was there to take my wetsuit, and give me a clean shirt. Others were sprinting up to the transition area for their bikes. I was taking it all in.
I got to transition, got my gloves and helmet and an energy snack and started out on the 15 mile bike ride. Bro and I had ridden the route once before, so it wasn’t completely foreign. I was going along pretty well – don’t get me wrong, it was HARD! But, again, I was passing some, and some were passing me. It’s all good.
The volunteers along the route were amazing – yelling encouragement and cheering. There were homeowners out along the route too, yelling encouragement. I don’t care what anyone says, that REALLY helps!
Right about mile 3-ish, I got a flat tire. GAH! I had a spare tube, sat down and started changing it, trying not to get frustrated. A race official stopped to help me and I was on my way in about 15 minutes. Great, yeah?
Jump ahead to mile 7-ish. Flat tire number 2. AYFKM?? There was another route official there, picking up a couple of women with a medical issue – they would not finish – and he stopped and helped me. This almost made me lose it. But, I just kept remembering why I was there. 20 minutes later, I’m back on the bike.
I was cruising! It felt great! I was coming up to mile 12 – almost there!! WOOHOO!!! I look down. Front tire flat. (The first 2 were the back tire). Oh. Em. Gee. WTF is going on??? I found a group fixing tires and made it to them. They fixed that, I get ready to go – Um, did you know that your back tire is flat too??? Flat tire #4. Awesome. Oh! And? At this point, I ran out of water, AND the small animal in my eye? Yeah, that was a torn contact lens, which had scratched my eyelid, thanks to all my rubbing. Let’s tally this up – so far? 4 flats and I’m down to 1 eye.
Assured that I was almost done, and that *this* tire would hold me until the end. The same guy fixed my tire twice so far, and he kept behind me making sure I was okay. Bless his heart, he offered me his water bottle, which I took gratefully! About 1/2 mile from the end of the bike…yup, you guessed it. Flat tire number 5. Even the guy fixing it couldn’t believe it. I carried the bike back to the transition area. It took me FOR. EVER. to finish the bike portion. All that time, sitting on the side of the road, counted against me.
By the time I was done with my bike, I noticed that almost everyone else was done. With everything. I still had a 5k run. I filled up my water bottle, and started out. Bro was there with an icy bottle of water, and an energy bar. Did I mention how awesome he is?? He walked with me a little way and then I got to a “non-spectator” area. I caught up with another lady – we were both walking – so we walked together.
She was from NY and had come up to participate, along with her sister and sister-in-law, in memory of their dad, who died from cancer in February. We walked almost the whole rest of the way together, just chatting. Right at the end, I jogged across the finish line.
The. Finish. Line.
My time was horrible. But that wasn’t the point, right? I, myself, raised $870 for breast cancer research, thanks to the generous support of friends and family. I set myself a goal to finish the race, and I did. And I did it all on my own.
My life will never be the same. I don’t think I can every say “I can’t do that” and really mean it. Apparently, I can do it. No matter what “it” is. I’ll stumble. I’ll end up with 5 flat tires. I will scratch my eyelid with a torn contact. And I will run out of water. And you know what? I will finish. And still be smiling.
I am a triathlete.