The race is over. And I am happy, elated and barely able to move my body.
The Expert and I both finished, without major incident, and did not finish last. Success! I pulled down an *official* race time of 3:22:34, with the longest T1 time in the history of man.
Granted, the race officials did move the swim a half mile down the road, which resulted in a half-mile run into T1…but I did go to the porta-potty, take my time to savor some Sports Beans, all before I decided to put on my helmet.
What am amazing morning. I was in the sixth wave, right after the pros and the elite amateurs, and charity/physically challenged. Me and my fellow green swimcaps (Athenas) were together. The buzzer went off, and the other ladies took off at the speed of light. Zoom! into the water. I jogged a little slower, and was one of the last ones into the water. I thought best not to have coronary before getting to the waves.
The swim was fabulous. No panic, no freak outs, and I even passed a few people. I was out of the water in 20:25. Oh, the race officials did cut the swim to 1000 meters because of the water conditions. Fine with me.
When the swim was shortened, the distance from the swim exit to the bike transition was lengthened. By a half mile. So out we came from the water only to be greeted with a half-mile barefoot run before reaching the transition area. Barefoot running is all the rage. I don’t care for it, especially before a twenty-four mile bike ride. Therefore, I took my sweet time in T1. I went to the bathroom, I wandered around my bike a little. I was slow. And I was okay with that.
I was most concerned with two things about the bike. Knowing myself, I was scared of the bike mount, and the bike dismount. Miracles.
Both were non-issues! Hooray!
The bike was amazing. Not because it was easy or fun, but because it was so incredibly humbling. I passed perhaps twenty riders during the entire twenty-four miles; I was passed by hundreds. I felt like I was riding fast around 15-18 mph; I might as well have been moving backwards compared to some of these riders. Incredible, and so inspiring.
I was passed by several amputee riders, one of which who cheered “Go Getting2Tri!” (I was wearing the shirt). On the other side of the road, I saw the Pease Brothers - what a story. Amazing! How could I complain about my ride when I was in the midst of such greatness?! I was truly thankful and in the moment, and so blessed.
My good bike buddy (the rider who I kept trading places with) was eighty years old. How did I know? Well, we all wore our age on our left calf with Sharpie. And there I was, huffing behind Sharpie 80. Amazing. Amazing woman. I can only pray to be half that woman when I am 80.
T2 was a little faster than T1.
I dashed out of the transition area with fury.
Okay, that’s not true. I trotted out slowly and carefully. 6.2 miles is no joke, especially after a swim and a bike. I didn’t want to lose all my steam. The run was an “out and back,” so I was so happy to see the Expert when I was on Mile 5… he started about forty-five minutes behind me, so we passed each other on the run.
It was awesome to see him! Like “hi friend! you’re suffering too!”
I have never felt so good in a run. That is, until I reached about Mile 5.5. The calves started cramping, the sun was beating down and I was praying for the end of the race. I could hear drums in the distance. The finish line.
As I turned left into the final stretch, the street was lined with cheering people, happy faces, and I felt blessed to the point of tears.
The race was a goal that feels amazing to have accomplished. But today, I gained much more than just a personal pat on the back – I gained a true sense of thankfulness, humility and stand in absolute awe of all the amazing athletes who compete in this sport.
I never once during this race had a single negative thought like “I can’t” or “this is impossible.” Not once. That in itself is a miracle. Everytime I began to hurt or feel some negative clouds rolling in, I closed my eyes and thought of the Getting2Tri athletes, the Pease brothers, and the countless heroic others who I saw over the past few days. Do I have the right to complain of pain in my legs… when I have legs? Do I have the audacity to whine when I am able-bodied?
Thank you ALL for your cheers and support during this time. Swim Bike Mom and the Expert live to see another race!