Here’s a guest post from Andrea Lytle Peet, along with pictures and stories from the Virtual Race!
For those of you who don’t know her, Andrea is an inspiration. In 2014, less than a year after completing a 70.3, she was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at the age of 33. Since her diagnosis, she has completed a triathlon, a “dri-athlon” (an indoor tri created on the fly!), a half marathon, and a marathon on her recumbent trike. And she is not done yet! She blogs here, and continues to inspire us all.
Thank you, Andrea!
“Think of it as a Sci-Fi plot:
- People randomly begin to lose body functions one at a time as their bodies stiffen into paralysis – first walking becomes impossible, then use of their hands and arms, followed by swallowing, eating, talking, and eventually breathing. Only their minds remain intact, helplessly bearing witness to the victims’ withering slide towards death within a few years. No one knows how to stop it, slow it down, or who will be next.
- Plot twist: the mysterious disease strikes military veterans twice as often. Endurance athletes are also more susceptible. No one knows why.
But it’s not Sci-Fi…It’s ALS.
I was head-shakingly humbled and grateful that Swim Bike Mom’s first Be Brave Be Thankful virtual race benefited ALS research and honored me. I already admired our fearless leader so much, but that’s just part of it.
That hundreds of complete strangers would participate and raise over four thousand dollars (!) to a cause that they likely don’t have a personal connection with? Shew, that’s overwhelming.
But you’re not complete strangers, are you?
I have made friends – real friends, not just the Facebook-confirmed kind – through the Tri-Fecta group started by Meredith, as a more personal extension of Swim Bike Mom- welcoming of men and women triathletes of all ages, backgrounds and ability levels. One of these friends has even entered my inner sphere of best friends, for whom I would go to the ends of the Earth to defend. Others I don’t know as well, but I genuinely care about their daily lives, goals, struggles, and achievements – triathlon related or not.
In 21st-century fashion, our interactions mostly consist of likes, comments, and private messages. In those exchanges, we support one another, share happenings in our lives, and “talk” openly about the things that matter to us.
Even you who orbit further away – maybe I just recognize your name or offer a quick like or “way to go!!” on your race photo – our group is more than just 3,200+ random strangers scattered across the country and around the globe. We came together because we’re triathletes and SBM’s story (and Meredith herself) resonates with us. We share experiences that don’t make sense to outsiders – pre-race jitters, frustrations about fogged goggles, the suck line.
We also relate to one another on more serious issues – depression, body image, health setbacks, and the woes of significant others who are also triathletes or could care less about it. I’ve never once seen a post where someone has expressed a sincere fear or concern without 20+ people jumping in to offer heartfelt advice, encouragement, or an empathetic “hey, I’ve been there too, sister.”
What’s my point? This group is special, dude.
With all the revolting and icky things floating around Facebook, Tri-Fecta is full of people who actually care about one another. People who want to be brave in conquering challenges and be thankful in celebrating what bodies and hard work can do while recognizing our true gifts in life. Add to that: we just proved in a very real way that we can mobilize as a force to accomplish some good in the world.
So. It may take courage to tell your story sometimes, but it can lead to opportunities, experiences, and friendships you never could have dreamed up. I know I’ve been inspired and moved to tears many times by posts from this group –both heart-wrenching and beautiful.
So. Don’t lurk. Speak your truth to release it or embrace it.
Because whether you have 2-5 years to live or decades (and you don’t know which) life is just too damn short to be anything but lived to your fullest potential.
That’s my way of saying thank you, friends.”
A Note from Swim Bike Mom & Race Details:
We thank YOU, Andrea for your inspiration!
ALS-TDI is a Cambridge, MA-based non-profit biotech company (the first in the world), which basically means they develop new therapies and drugs in their lab (which now is solely focused on ALS). Their unique and comprehensive approach leverages over fifteen years of treatment-focused ALS research and applies it on an industrial scale to get therapeutics to today’s ALS patients as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. The translational research environment brings together more than 30 fulltime scientists whose expertise include assay development, computational and molecular biology, pharmacology, and protein biochemistry.
The Blazeman Foundation is a non-profit family foundation that serves to carry out the vision of its namesake and founder, the late Jonathan “Blazeman” Blais. The mission of the Blazeman Foundation for ALS is 1) to raise awareness about ALS by leveraging the energy, commitment and compassion of the multi-sport community and 2) to raise necessary funds to be directed into cutting-edge scientific research to find treatments and an eventual cure for ALS…“So Others May Live®“.
Thank you all for your participation in this first Virtual Race.
It was awesome!
One participant said, “Ended up with almost 5.5 miles in 20 degree weather and 430 feet of elevation gain. I dressed appropriately but obviously I underdressed my phone. It died halfway through; therefore no pic. I decided to run down to the corner grocery store to get lime so I could make Meredith’s chicken curry. Also, who knew that you could stuff 2 limes in the flip belt smile emoticon Great run reflecting on how lucky I am to be able to swim, bike, and run!”
Go here to the Facebook Event page to see
even more photos and read more stories!
A Special Thank You to Our Race Sponsors!