I recently went on an expedition of my old hotmail account. Among the ruins, I found this. It’s hard to believe this was 10 years ago. Enjoy.
The Danskin Women’s Triathalon 2000… Naperville, Ill.
As I ran down to the starting area, I could already feel the butterflies in my stomach desperately trying to get out. I quickly made my way into the sea of purple swim caps, and took a second to look around. All I could see was people, and ahead of me a half a mile swim. I heard the announcer talking about sponsors, and I took the time to talk to some of the girls around me. I found a couple teenage girls, who looked just about as nervous as I felt. We talked a bit, but the conversation was light, for we all had things on our minds. Finally he announcer said it was time to start the race, and as the wave of women ahead of us shot into the water, we moved up to the start line. Before I knew it they had sounded the start of the second wave, and we all went racing into the water.
It took me a minute to realize what was happening, for there were hands and feet flying everywhere. It seemed like fifty girls were all trying to swim in the same cubic foot. I got clocked in the face several times before I finally found some space to swim. The water in the resavouir was nice, not too cold but not too warm either. As I swam I could feel the lifegaurds’ eyes following us. There were many many swimmers, and therefore there were also many lifegaurds. I rounded the first turn, and headed back towards the shore once again. It was a long zig-zag pattern that I was to repeat quite a few times before finishing. I looked ahead of me and saw the blind triathalete, with her coach beside her. She was doing great, and was definately kicking my butt. It was inspiring, and I quickened my pace a bit. As people would pass me, they would say ‘good job,’ and ‘you’re doing great.’ I returned the favor many times that day. I swam for what seemed to be forever, and couldnt believe that this was just the first of three very long tests. Tests of strength, stamina, and patience. Tests of myself and my brain. I looked ahead of me and could see the finish banner. I lengthened my stroke once more, and before i knew it I was out of the water and on my way to the transition area. Throughout that whole time I could hear the people on the sidelines and the other athletes cheering us on, and supporting all of us one hundred percent.
I ran the dirt trail to the transition area, and gave a few high fives along the way. Quickly finding my bike from over two thousand, I realized it was a good thing I paid attention to where i put it. I toweled off a bit, threw on some shorts and my number, grabbed my shoes, and headed towards the bike start.
I got to the banner, and jumped on my bike. I followed the people in front of me, and the cones that were all over the place. Once I got on my bike it helped me calm down a little, and I grabbed for my water bottle. I was exhausted from the swim, and just started a 12 mile bike ride. Deciding to take it slow the first few minutes, I caught my breath, and listened to all the people along the roads cheering and yelling. Then I started riding harder, getting energy off of those people. There were even little kids with cowbells, ringing them and screaming like crazy. I think they were using more energy than me. It was great. Among all the athletes we cheered each other on, and when my chain fell off, I got at least six people within thirty seconds asking if I needed some assistance. People were so supportive of each other, it was inspiring.
As I rode my bike along the roads, I looked around a bit. There were a fields on both sides of me, with beautiful wildflowers. I felt like it was out of a movie. It was kinda weird it was so beautiful. Then there would be stretches of road in the neighborhood areas, and there would be more people cheering us on. I saw some signs that said “Go Aunt Pat” or “We love you Mom.” Amazing how people will take the time to help someone else out. Amazing how much a little sign, or someone on the side of the road can give you so much more confidence and energy. The bike was long, and there were quite a few hills, but before I knew it I was looking at the bike finish banner coming closer and closer.
I jumped off my bike and ran it back to the transition area, where I set it back up on the bar. I took one last drink from my waterbottle, jumped up and down a few times, (because my legs felt like jelly) and started jogging towards the run start. As I passed under the start banner, I thought, ‘ok, only three miles. 5k, thats not that much, it’s all a mental thing anyways.’ Haha, yeah right. After a .75k swim and a 20k bike, 5k can seem like an eternity. But I did it. I walked and ran the first mile and a half or so, and ran the last mile and a half. It was amazing how many people volunteered their time to stand on the side of the road and hold out gatorade and water for us to grab. One guy was riding around on a bike with a boom box strapped to the back of it. We ran by a house that had all its sprinklers on, pointed towards the street. And we all helped each other out.
About 600 yards before the finish, I decided i couldnt make it and I would just die right there on the road. I started walking, and as soon as I did, a lady ran by me and then turned around and started running backwards. She was talking to me. She was saying “Come on, the finish is right there, dont stop now, start running, come on, you can do it. I know you can.” Guess what happened? I started running. I started running hard. All because of the immense support that people and been giving each other all day long. I thought of my friends and family, and I thought of the little kids ringing cow bells. And I ran and ran and ran. I looked down and saw someone had taken sidewalk chalck and written messages on the groundlike ‘run run run!!’ and ‘almost there!’ and other funny stuff. As I got closer, there were more and more people on the sides of the road, until they made a human wall. And I was in the middle of these two screaming, breathing, excited walls.
I looked up, and saw the finish banner for the run. I somehow found the energy to pick my head up, lengthen my stride, and I sprinted to the finish line. I crossed it, and the world was great. A little girl probably not older than four handed me a medal on a pink ribbon. I smiled, and thanked her. All I could hear was screaming people, not only for me, but all of the over two thousand girls who went through the same things. I feel in my heart that they were also cheering for all of the money that we raised for breast cancer research. Those people are the real winners of the triathalon… The ones who couldnt be in it because of cancer. An everlasting smile was planted on my face. Over two thousand woman came together that day to raise money for a life saving cause, and I was proud to be one of them.