Sunday, September 19, 2010

Not This Time

I was ready. Though I didn't sleep that well, I woke with a good attitude that seemed to set the tone and tempo for the whole day. No doubt I was feeling up for this sprint triathlon (650 meter swim-14.5 mile bike-5k run). I was talking to everyone I met. In those predawn hours getting ready to race, I seemed to have an exuberance that left folks smiling when I left them-or maybe they were just glad to be rid of me and my malarkey. It was like a runner's high but before the race.

The flag, the national anthem played on a trumpet, hands to hearts, the dawn rising over the lake; an event in the offing. I felt so blessed to be there and for the health to participate.

The swim went well. Easy does it. There was just enough contact with other swimmers to keep it interesting. Strokes came easy and smooth. When I found myself alongside another swimmer, I always pulled a little harder to swim faster and leave them behind me. I was pumped. However, I had no bubbly illusions as to my placing in the overall event. I know the truth and I am good with that.

My main bike has a broken frame and I had to use my old back up bike. However, we seemed to do well on the hills which came frequently. I wanted to be on the lookout for a hill on the return that is especially steep. Last year on this course, I had to get off and walk my bike there. There were some screaming downhills and some quad straining uphills but I love courses like that. On the way out I took note of the bad hill in order to be in the right gear for it this time. Coming back, hill after hill, then I saw what I thought was my marker for the killer hill. Must be in better shape. That hill was hard but not all that bad. The wicked witch is dead. But, oh no, just ahead was the real killer hill. My speed dropped like a rock and I found myself standing, barely able to turn the pedals. Maybe I should get off and push the bike, I thought. If I go any slower, I reasoned, I might fall over. I wondered could I keep this grinding up. Maybe I should get off the bike after all?

My race was there. My race was then. No, not this time, I resolved. I am in this; no getting off the bike. Not this time. And at that moment, I managed a smile, through gritting teeth. Sometimes a smile can take you places your body doesn't think it can go. The hill was mine!!

I was rocking and rolling then, passing riders coming into T-2. The run felt good and I set myself on an a decent pace for me. I still felt strong. The humidity was visible. One young man was throwing up on the side of the road. Some people were walking but I felt strong. I even passed a few runners; something that doesn't happen that much anymore for me. A couple people that passed me told me I was an inspiration. They couldn't believe, I suppose, that it took them this long in this event to pass a dinosaur.

The finish line banner in view, I quickened my pace and finished strong, with a big smile. Sometimes I can barely drag myself in to finish but not this time. No, not this time. I felt so blessed. This was truly a great day; one to thank God for.