I am exhausted in part from the actual triathlon itself if not as much from the anticipation…and the emotional catharsis afterwards. However, I could not rest until I shared the following:
The combined energy of our large ThumbsUp team, the Wolfpack members, the friends and complete strangers swelling to a crest, carried us over the finish line, precisely as predicted and promised by all my fellow triathletes. (So magnificent – and still very strange to think I may call myself that!). My heart was ready to burst… I believe that together we have all accomplished something extraordinary.
The swim – on the way out through the chop, from someone behind the kayak (a lifeguard?) I can not see but hear: “I have 2 kids with disabilities. Thank you for doing this!” Water rushes into my mouth and up my nose. It hurts but I pay it no mind. More clearly than ever, I know why I am participating! And if it were easy, if there was no price to pay, this would have little meaning. Nor would ThumbsUp!
With Cristina’s arms carving us a way through the chop and the other swimmers, and Lilly steadying the kayak while she reassuringly squeezes my hand, the 1/2 mile water leg is over almost too soon. I love the way the kayak undulates beneath me. It’s a sense of movement I rarely get.
The bike ride – it’s somewhat rough, requiring almost superhuman strength from Cristina to get us up the inclines on the bridges. For me, there are potholes, road separators, bumps that shake and jarr, but I know can not be avoided…. like in every day life. But I also know we will overcome, another important lesson of the day! Buoyed by Andreas caring inquiries and encouraging words as he rides along with us, we take all difficulties in stride. Cristina does not falter. She is tenacious to the core.
And just as with the swim, the memories will be the sweeter for what we endure and accomplish despite the difficulties…..they are ThumbsUp experiences for sure!
The run – running in this event made the least demands on me. The day’s extra enjoyment and thrill comes from the fact that many pushed my cart and thus got to share directly in our triumph…. as much a tribute to Cristina’s generosity of spirit as it was a necessity to get us to the finish through the heavy sand.
For instance, Leanda Cave, the famous triathlete and the only woman to win two Ironman races in the same year, pushes me for a good distance during the run and coaches Cristina through the sand. “Tiny steps, tiny steps…”she repeatedly advises my nearly exhausted team mate. It is at Cristina’s direction that many hands lift me to my feet to cross the line so I can truly feel and enjoy the moment I become a triathlete.
I am overwhelmed by gratitude…and humility. At the same time, I am so proud of her, of everyone involved with ThumbsUp. Crowning the experience, Leanda somewhere found a beautiful red hibiscus. She gave me the flower. Later Cristina explained that a flowered crown was placed around Leanda’s head when she won the Kona Ironman, triathlon’s iconic event. What a beautiful symbol and honor to be thus welcomed into the triathlete family!