TravelDiva and I woke up at 4am and got ready for the day. You gotta love my girl for applying her make-up pre race all while telling me “I make this triathlon shyt look good!”. I didn’t get much sleep the night before because my nerves were on pins and needles. All I could think about was that swim.
When we got to the race, they marked our numbers on our arms and thighs. On the back of our calves, they wrote our ages. We got in and found our spots for our bikes and set-up our transition areas. These are the areas where you come back and change/transitition for your next event. You need to be organized so you can get in and out quickly.
We met the Good Doctor and the trio of Team Diva was in effect. We were pumped up and ready for the race. The sheer panic started when I realized that my age group would be the last group in the water. Then I looked at the water and all of my fear returned. The 1/2 mile distance looked so far. My nerves were on edge. TravelDiva and the Good Doctor’s age groups went in about 20 minutes before mine.
(1/2 mile swim from where we took the picture to underneath that bridge, through the fourth arch and back)
I kept looking over for my family and I couldn’t see them anywhere. My heart and resolve were sinking fast.
When I got in the water, we had to tread water for a good 10 minutes before they gave us the go signal. I started the race already tired. As soon as I started swimming, I got maybe 50 yards and all of my open water fear returned. My mind was screaming “YOU CAN’T DO THIS!” I swam to the first kayak and asked the guy in it what would happen if I couldn’t complete the swim. “Brian” told me that they would not let me finish the bike or run and I would be totally disqualified. I swear I started staring at the length of the course and I was totally paralyzed with fear. Brian started talking me down. “Just breathe, you can do this. I’m not gonna let you quit. Can you see that kayak over there? Just swim to it.” I slowly made my way to the next kayak. Brian paddled his kayak in front of that one and called out to me “Come on girlie, swim to my boat. You can do this.” I slowly swam to his boat. We did this till I got to the bridge where I needed to turn around and come back. I looked around and I was one of three people left in the water. My heart sank. I could feel tears pouring down my face. Brian looked down at me and said “You are halfway there. You can do this.” “I’m dead last Brian. I should just quit.”
“Listen to me. I am a two time cancer survivor. I never quit and I am not going to let you quit. You can do this and you are going to complete this race.”
I swear it was like God sent Brian to me. I stopped crying and I started to swim. I found some resolve from somewhere. If that man could battle an illness, who was I to cry over a swim in the Schuykill? When I was about 100 yards from shore, we heard a horn blast. Brian leaned over and told me that they were about to shut down the water course and I had 4 minutes to make it to shore or I would be disqualified. I took a deep breath and started swimming. I made it. I was DEAD LAST but I got out of that water. I looked back and saw them pulling in the two other swimmers on rafts.
I entered the transition area and my heart sank as I watched folks coming in that had already finished the entire race. I started peeling off my wetsuit and tried to change as fast as I could.
Before the race, I hadn’t seen my family. I have to admit that even though I asked Mr. 1969 not to bring them out too early cause it would make me nervous, when I saw them, I felt so much better. They were holding up signs and cheering for me every single step of the way.
(*Here I am sitting on the grass trying to change out of a wet wetsuit and into my running gear behind my boys’ signs.)
I jumped on my bike and tried to get on the road. The bike course had several intense hills and we had to ride the entire course twice. Did I mention, everyone had new shiny speedy bikes and I was on a mountain bike? Uh yeah….the outlook was not great for my time. As I watched people on the course during my first lap on the course, I realized most of them were returning not starting. Once I started the 2nd loop, I realized I was out there completely alone.
I biked the 2nd 8 miles only seeing an occasional rider on the other side heading back while I was still going forward. I got to the biggest hill and I swear, I had not one ounce of energy left after my ordeal in the water. I stopped pedaling and started crying. I put my head on the handlebars and I think I was praying for some paramedics to notice me and come take me away. At least then I could say I was hurt or injured, not just that I quit. When I got the whole cry out of my system, I drank some water and started pedaling again. My times so far were horrendous but dammit, I was going to finish this thing if I was the dead last person. I have never talked to myself so much. I made it on that course by faith and sheer will. I told myself to just keep pedaling.
Somehow, I made it back to the last transition. The race was pretty much done. People were packing up their bikes while wearing shiny medals and going home to celebrate as I was getting ready to run out. I could see the other athletes looking at me like “is she now getting here?” I saw my husband, I saw both TravelDiva and the Good Doctor with medals around their necks but I didn’t acknowledge them. I just loaded my bike, grabbed some jelly beans, my sunglasses and started heading for the run course.
(*Here I am walking out to run, as everyone is already back and rocking medals)
I started moving. My left hip was on fire. I couldn’t run. My legs felt like jello but I kept moving. A race official pulled up in her golf cart next to me to ask me if I was okay…I asked her for some water and she gave me a cold bottle. I told her I was going to finish and I was okay. I just kept moving forward. I looked to my left and TravelDiva was next to me on her bike. Just having her ride another 3 miles to accompany me after completing a damn triathlon made me start crying. I kept moving and crying but yes, I kept moving. She rode the whole way with me. She held my water when it got too exhausting to carry it. She played an army cadence on her ipod out loud so I could jog to it. When I started crying again, she played Yolanda Adams “I Got The Victory”. When I got slow, she pushed me to jog. Paramedics rolled up next to me and asked me if I was okay (where were they when I was having my bike breakdown?)…”I plan on crossing the finish line so you guys can wait for me at the line. I don’t know if I will need you then, but I will not be stopping until I get over the line.” They said okay and they drove up to the finish line to wait for the last person (me) to finish the race. When I was about 1/2 mile away, my boys rode up next to me on their scooters and started cheering me on. There was no way, I was going to quit with my babies next to me and TravelDiva supporting me down the road.
When I finally saw the finish, from somewhere, I found the strength to run (NOT JOG, BUT RUN) and I finished that triathlon like an athlete. As soon as my foot hit the line, I started bawling. I mean I had a complete breakdown.
All I can remember is hearing Tali 1 saying “Mommy, I am so proud of you. I have never been more proud of you in my life!”
I saved the biggest hug for TravelDiva for pushing me and not giving up on me on that run. She is the epitome of a champion.
After we all stopped crying, I was so elated that it was over. My times are not worth sharing as they were horrendous but trust me, I worked harder than any other athlete out there and I earned every piece of that medal. No matter what, I am now a triathlete.
Thanks to all of you for sharing this personal goal. I appreciate all of the positivity and faith you had in me. Special thanks to my husband and family who gave up supermommy for months so I could train for this endeavor. My family is the best and I hope my boys will always be able to say their Mommy is NOT a QUITTER. Lastly, thank you to TravelDiva for her continued positivity and support and to the Good Doctor who trained with me day in and day out, rain or shine. I am so proud of Team Diva, we did it ladies, we did it!
And in the famous words that started our journey….We make this triathlon shyt look good!