“There are bold captains and old captains, but no bold old captains.” For some reason this is the quote I was thinking about after being pulled into a pontoon boat a mere few minutes into the swim portion of the race.
The previous day I had spent a lot of energy contemplating the cycling portion of the race. It was a hilly 18 mile ride in the Pocono Mountains and it had been raining for the past 24 hours. The roads were slick and there were a lot of fast riders in this group. I was completely freaked out about the ride. I never even considered the swim portion. I am a swimmer that’s what I was bringing to the race. As we entered the water, I found my way to the front for a few minutes of treading before it officially began. I felt pretty good, pretty confident. I took off at the start and pretty soon after something happened to my body. It started in my chest and made its way up to my neck and I couldn’t breathe. I rolled onto my back to try to mitigate what was happening. I thought I got myself together enough to move on, so I began to breast stroke very slowly, I must have gotten kicked or pushed under or who knows, but next thing I know I was being pulled into the boat. I began to cry from relief and joy that I could breath and from frustration about what had happened. I can not remember a time in recent history that I felt so defeated and alive all at once. They started asking me questions like what day is today, who is the president. I couldn’t figure out why the hell they wanted to know this when I had a race to finish. Obviously I was not coherent! As they plucked a few more people out, I realized, oh- today is Sunday and Obama is president. Yes, I was pretty out of it I guess. It’s hard even now to explain this and have any perspective. When you are right in it, right in the moment, at the edge of it all, there is no thinking mind.
Since I was only doing the sprint distance, I was low man on the totem pole of race participants. In other words, once they saw I could walk and talk, I was released to do whatever I wanted. So, I made my way to the transition, got on my cycling gear and took off for the ride from hell. But a crazy thing happened along the way. The ride I had stressed so much about, the ride that had me tasting fear throughout the previous evening was no big deal. Yes, it was hard as hell and the hills were a bear and the rain was scary, but I could breath and I had a new appreciation for breathing! Once I transitioned for the run I felt alive and well and so grateful for my family being there, for my breath and most importantly I was grateful the race was almost over.
As I turned the corner and headed for the finish line my 3 boys ran along side cheering me on. Under normal circumstances they are an incredibly loud and boisterous bunch. It is not unusual for me to tell them to quiet down, but in that moment I was in heaven and their voices sounded like angels. Hearing their voices, feeling their energy, seeing their smiles and crossing the finish line was a moment I will never forget.
What I learned from this journey and from the experience I had in the water will take time for me to understand fully. On the surface levels I am reminded, yet again, the things we stress about usually do not ever come to fruition, while the things we don’t even consider can knock us under. This is a lesson I have been learning and re-learning for a while now. Perhaps this time it will be assimilated.
I embarked on this adventure to honor my friend Dan Schultz for all he and his family went through and for all of the courage and dignity they displayed and continue to display. An amazing group of people helped raise over $3200 for the awesome organization For Pete’s Sake. Isn’t that So COOL! I also hoped to inspire my kids to know that they can do anything they put their minds to. While I wasn’t smooth or dignified in this race by any measure, I survived it, crossed the finish line and feel stronger than ever before. I am planning on doing another one soon, however, I may choose one with warmer water next time so I can be bold and old!
I completed my first triathlon yesterday with the most awesome road crew around.
My Dad drove me to the race and with his cool demeanor, stuck by me the whole time till I got in the water. It felt like old-times- when I was a kid swimming in an event. I was so excited to start swimming, that I took off fast. I wanted to show my Dad I was still a superstar!
I decided to do this tri as a practice for a tri I am doing May 19th to honor my friend Dan Schultz. I have made the May 19th tri so public, that I thought it might be a good idea to get one under my belt before I do it for “real”. I am so glad I did this as a practice as I learned so much. For starters, maybe I shouldn’t try to be such a hot- shot (this is relative) in the water. There is probably no need to impress my Dad at this point. I am pretty sure he thinks I am great and the winner of the entire triathlon despite any official race results. Second thing I learned was to pick up the speed in transitions. I think I can do better than 4:38 minutes. I also learned that I am VERY thirsty when I swim and bike and run. I need to hydrate more efficiently before, during and after the race. I also learned that speeding down hills freaks me out and the wind is very loud. Going uphill is extremely quiet and difficult- especially when I haven’t figured out the gears and I am on the toughest one. OUCH- my quads were cooked and I was only 3 miles into the ride. I learned a lot yesterday and all of it will be helpful May 19th when I race at Black Bear to honor Dan.
So, on Sunday, May 19th, I will race in honor of Dan with a little more experience under my biking shorts. My awesome road crew will be dis-baned as they all have stuff to do that doesn’t include following me around. We will continue to raise money up until race day in honor of Dan for the awesome organization For Pete’s Sake. If you are interested in contributing, please click here.
Aside from not being a great runner, I am not what you would call a skilled cyclist. Most of my experience is on a beach cruiser noticing the trees and the sky. Not exactly useful skills in a road race! So why on earth would I sign up for a race that involves two out of three skills I lack? Click here to find out. Also, with all of this physical training, I have been thinking that when you meet your edge and take a leap, you have a chance to soar. I am not suggesting I am soaring at the moment, but I am focused on the training and (hopefully) setting myself up to finish the race with some dignity intact. Part of this training has involved an awesome online training tool called Paincave. Paincave was started by my cousin Michael Egan, so I am a little biased about it’s awesome-ness. But, honestly, it’s the real deal!
Paincave is an membership site that offers training videos. They have elite athletes in a studio, “The Paincave”, integrated with footage from races around the world. You set up your bike on a trainer, turn on the episode you choose, and get top notch coaching along with lots of inspiration. Being a novice cyclist, with limited time to train, I have found the racing footage inspirational and the structured workouts are very helpful! I feel like I am getting focused coaching, great tips and the scenery makes it feel like you are really on the road. Since I have started Paincave, I have found I am a little more skilled on the bike! I especially like episode 4: Seaside to Paso Robles
I will let you know how all of this training pans out in a real race. I am doing my first tri this Sunday. I decided to sign up for one to practice for the Black Bear Tri in May. Fingers crossed I can make it!
Many years ago, almost a life time ago, I was a competitive swimmer. I only mention this because I am clinging onto the hope that my body, mind and spirit will have some sort of “memory” of this and be able to kick in to gear and move through water without sinking to the bottom. I am doing my first triathlon on May 19th. I have registered and everything. By everything, I mean I am two weeks into training, I have told people that I am doing this, and I even bought a seriously ugly tri suit that makes me look like a short bald man. Oh, I also retrofitted my (taller) husbands racing bike to fit me. Well, it sort-of fits me.
I was inspired to do a triathlon last spring after watching my friend Dan fight a courageous battle against cancer. After almost 2 years of fighting this disease, Dan passed away in June 2012. I became friends with Dan and his AMAZING wife Sue after we realized we shared a babysitter. Truth be told, the child whisperer known as Katie Fitton was their babysitter. We were merely borrowing Katie from time to time. Like everyone who knows Dan and Sue, we became fast friends. When Dan was diagnosed with cancer, we had so much hope that he would survive it, but that was not God’s plan. Dan fought such a courageous battle with Sue, his four beautiful children and his extended family at his side. They demonstrated such grace and guts throughout Dan’s journey. They were and continue to be a major inspiration in my life.
Soon after Dan passed away I had an idea that I would honor him by doing a triathlon. I mentioned this to Sue one day as I was riding around our neighborhood on my beach cruiser (more on this later). I came home, told my husband and then thought HOLY SH&%.
As time went by, my desire to honor Dan was clear and a desire to show my children that anything is possible emerged. However, I couldn’t figure out how to JUST DO IT. I heard about CNN Fit Nation and Dr. Sanjay Gupta selecting a group of people to help them train for a triathlon. I submitted a video and crossed my fingers. I was hoping I would be selected because then I would be accountable. I never got selected. Soon after, I heard that my friend and fellow yoga instructor Carlyn was training for a tri in May. One thing led to another and TEAM VERGE emerged. Along with five other yogis, I will be doing the Black Bear Tri on May 19th. OMG! We all have our own reasons and inspirations for embarking on this journey. My intention for this triathlon is to honor the way Dan Schultz lived his life to the fullest and to hopefully inspire my children. Dan lived his life to the fullest and has inspired me to do the same. Dan did everything with a smile, that’s why I am calling it TEAM VERGE….Tri it with a smile.
From time to time I will update this blog about how my training is going. What I have learned from only two short weeks of training is that I am really hungry after I swim and I am not a very good runner. Actually, I have always know I was not a good runner, now I am faced with it again and again and again.
I will be offering a couple of donation based yoga classes before May 19th to raise money and awareness to be donated in Dan’s honor. The cause is TBD. Stay tuned!