Thursday, June 14, 2012

SheRox Triathlon - Learning to Fly

4:30 am wake-up call.  It was unnecessary.  I was up. Ready to go.  Let's do this.

Day before race with Sara
Sara was already up for awhile.  I got myself together and we were out the door just after 5 a.m. and at the race start before 5:30.  First relay at transition.  Got a nice end spot for our stuff.  Started to take it all in.  We were going to do a triathlon.  As a relay.  Together.

Lisa arrived shortly afterwards.  She was teary eyed.  Tears streaming down her face.  I asked her why.  She said because she was just thinking about how amazing all these women were that were doing this triathlon.  I felt it too.  We both cried.  Tears of happiness.  Of being inspired.  Of being proud.  Of all those making the effort.

The Beach
While Sara changed, Lisa marked my body with a few "suck it cancer"s.  And, I headed off to warm up in the water for a bit.  The Beach is an old quarry in town that has been a great "pool" for many years here.  It's a great place for an open water swim.  I needed, however, to be refreshed on how the visibility was here.  I was quickly reminded that it was about zero.  Alrighty then.   When I came out of my quick warm up Lisa was nowhere to be found.  Ummm..... Lisa? Lisa?  Uh, Lisa?  I walked around the deck area for 10 minutes before I gave up.  I was starting to panic.  Transition was closing in ten minutes.  I had to get up there and get anything I needed (which turned out to be nothing).  So, I ran back.  Made Sara call Lisa.  She was sitting 10 feet in front of the area I had left her.  She never saw me get out.  Yeah..... not our only miscommunication of the day for us virgins.  Oh, well, No big whoop.  I only had a slight freak out.  Ha.

So, then goodbyes to Sara and Lisa headed with me for the swim start.  Oh. My. God.  I was going to be racing in less then ten minutes.  Just at the start I finally found my sister and ten year old niece.  This was nice.  The first time my family has come to my races (as an adult).  My friends, however, all bailed on me once again.  I was happy to see my niece.  She's a rockstar swimmer and did the Chicago Kids Triathlon last year and made me so proud. She was a breath of fresh air and made me relax.

I was so grateful we were starting in Wave #3.  First of all, because of the heat.  Secondly, because we didn't have to wait around for almost two hours to start racing.  I got in my corral with 2 minute before start. I looked around at my corral.  Picked out a few that I could easily identify as swimmers.  The girl next to me, one I had identified as a swimmer, asked me, "How far is this swim?"  I said, "You ask this now?  It's a half mile".  She said she used to swim the mile.  Oh no.  This did not bode well for me.  A sprinter.

The Elite wave went off.  The cancer survivor wave went off.  We were next.  I jockeyed for a front position.  I got it.  In the water we walked.  3, 2, 1........ BEEEEEEEEP!  We were off!  It was a roller derby free for all for that front position.  The Miler Girl and me were battling it out.  She won the battle.  Got along the lane line first.  But, half way down that first lap I overtook her.  See ya.  However, as I did so, I also kicked someone behind me.  Someone was behind me. Not for long.  Shortly she was on the other side of me.  Then in front of me.   I let her go.  No way I could continue this fast pace for an entire half mile.  I needed to go steady and strong.  But, not all out so soon.

The lanes were HUGE.  So, I ended up doing a lot of zig zagging when I lost sight of the lane lines.  I could only see to the end of my hand in front of me, if that far.  So, if I wasn't right along a lane line I tended to get off course.  I had to do a lot of breast strokes to keep an eye out for slow swimmers ahead or turns in the course.  When I hit the Survivor's wave I had a very hard time getting through.  They were packed pretty tight across the lane.  These women friggin rock and the last thing I needed to do was claw my way through them.  So, I dodged and weaved the best I could until I was free and had plenty of clear water ahead.  I could see two other relay colored caps ahead of me.  But, they were closer than they had been.  I had caught up.  One last lap.  I gave it all I had.  I was beat.  But, I put my head in and pulled.

I thought about the survivors I just passed.  I thought about them not giving up.  I thought about a that weird doode friend of mine that runs silly miles in a pink tutu to raise money to find a cure for cancer.  I didn't care how tired I was.  I could do this.  I could finish strong.

Soon I could see the bottom.  I was close.  I stood up.  Ran out of the water.  Yes!  I was done.  Oh, wait, never mind.  I had to then run to our transition area for our wave.  Up a hill.  Through a parking lot.  The entire transition area.  I could barely breath.  I was exhausted.  I was running in a friggin bathing suit for crying out loud!  Oh, dear Lord.

I got to our transition area.  I was confused.  I couldn't  find Sara.  I was in our lane.  But, she wasn't.  There were other relay teams standing where Sara should be.  Lots of them.  Blocking the area.  But, where was Sara?  I ran up and down the area looking for her.  Finally I ran back to our transition.  Yelled her name.  She stood up.  She was adjusting her bike.  The other ladies were blocking her.  I couldn't see her.  She wasn't expecting me so soon.  Ha.  We got our shit together, she got on our chip, and off she went.

I met up with Lisa.  Wished her luck. Then headed out to try to catch Sara as she rode my for the second loop.  We weren't sure how fast she'd be.  So, my sister, niece and I hauled ass 3/4 mile away to catch a bit of the biking.  We waiting a bit (thankfully, because I was STILL out of breath) and there came Sara!  Wheeeeee!!!!!  She looked fantastic!  Yeah!  Then, all the way back to transition for us.  I jumped back in and talked to Lisa a bit and recapped my swim and a bit of Sara's leg.  Lisa's husband and kids arrived and Lisa was able to get some pre-race hugs from them.

Sara came flying in carrying her bike.  Looking exhausted.  But, strong.  I could tell she gave it her all.  Lisa grabbed the chip and off she went!  Wheeeee!!!!  After Sara caught her breath we joined our cheering crew at the finish to wait for Lisa.  It was so exciting.  We couldn't wait for her to arrive.  Then, around the corner, through the trees, Lisa. Sara and I got on either side of the finish chute. As Lisa came in, we grabbed her hands.  And crossed that finish line.  Together.  Team Tridiots.

It was an amazing moment.  Lisa also gave it all she had.  Everything.  I was SO proud of her.  It was really hot out already.  She did great.  And, then we hugged.  A team hug.  For completing our first relay triathlon. As a team. This was my favorite moment.

We did it.  We did our first triathlon as a relay.  We made some mistakes.  We learned. We are hungry for more.  Out of 58 relays teams we finished 7th.   1:29.55. I'm thrilled with our results.  I think we did great.  And, I think we can easily improve on this next year. Next year we will fly. 

We did it.  For us.  For my dad, who died from cancer ten years ago.  For Lisa's mother, who died from cancer two years ago.  For Sara, who is kicking cancers ass with one more week to go with her chemo.  We did it for us.  We did it for them.

We did it.  Team Tridiots.

Suck it cancer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Beautiful Change

Change is hard for me.  I'm not good with change.  

Yet when I do accept change I find it freeing.  Liberating.  Beautiful. 

Yes, I quit my job of 19 years.  It was a long time coming.  A very long time coming.  But, as bad as this job was it gave me flexibility to take care of people in my life.  But, funny thing was, I never used that to take care of me.  Until last year.  When I got my run on full force. 

I ran fast.  I ran free.  I felt beautiful. 

Well, until I got injured.  

I broke.

Nine LONG months ago. 

And, then, it got ugly.  I got ugly.   

No marathon for me.  No diagnosis for me.  No running for me. A boot for me.

It sucked.  A lot. I pretended I was okay with it.  I wasn't. 

I gained almost 25 pounds of the 65+ pounds I had lost through running.  I was no longer that person my friends commented on how great I looked.  

Ugly. I felt it.  Inside and out.  It stayed with me day and night.  At work.  Things at work that always sucked, sucked more.  Because I didn't like how I felt.  My running wasn't getting better.  My pain wasn't getting better.  I saw no way out of this hole. 

And, then an opportunity came to me.  A new job came to me.  From all places, my sometimes running partner.  Why of course.  She didn't beg.  But, in a way she did.  Just in case I didn't hear her.  But, thankfully, I did.  

I took the chance.  I took a leap.  I didn't crash. I didn't break.  

I've never felt good about myself.  I have horrible self esteem.  I never think I have any worth.  Which is funny.  Because anybody who knows me in person would certainly say I'm a confident, strong woman.  I, however, would say I'm a very good actress. 

It wasn't until I started kicking ass (albeit my own ass) running that I started to think I was a bit worthy.  That I was perhaps a bit beautiful.  For whatever that meant.  

But, I lost all that.  When I broke. 

A few weeks ago at the Barefoot 24 I met Debbie's three beautiful girls.  And, when I say beautiful, I mean it.  Stunning.  Gorgeous.  And, sweet, nice, and funny.  When I walked downstairs for the first time that morning I had three of them staring back at me.  In silence.  No words.  They had been chatting up a storm.  But, then they saw me.  Silence.  

I started small talk.  Silly talk.  Soon, the chatter began.  Well, with two of them.  One of the six and a half year old twins, Miss H.  A confident looking beauty with a swagger of strength and individuality.  And, the baby, five year old Miss B.  A adorable 17 year old class president trapped in a five year old's body.  Who wanted to be my bff within two minutes.  And, perhaps may have.  During one of her deep conversations with me (not the one at 2 am when she jumped in bed with me and wanted to girl talk) she looked at me and said, "I have lots of words in my head"  I said, "Yes, I see that".  

But, then there was Miss K.  Sitting back away from us.  Silent.  Not talking.  But, I could feel her sizing me up and down.  Figuring me out.  She, was, quite frankly, stunning.  Long blonde hair.  Gorgeous big eyes.  But, quiet.  

We all did yoga together.  I taught them hard stuff.  We did back bends.  They rocked them out.  I did headstands.  To prove to witnesses that, yes, I can indeed rock a headstand.  They thought that was pretty kewl.  

Later Debbie told me that Miss K, had huge self confidence issues.  She hated the way she looked.  Hated that she didn't look like her twin.  Or her other sister.  Or her mom.  She didn't have brown hair.  She didn't have curly hair.  She didn't look like anybody she knew in real life. 

That was until I walked down those stairs.  There was a grown woman.  With long blond hair.  Who perhaps looked like her in a sense. 

It pained me to no end to know that such a beautiful girl could think she was so ugly.  How could this be so?  How could she feel something that was just so obviously untrue.  How could she not know that she was strong?  That she has so much to offer in life?  That she was worthy.  

How could she be, well, me

Wow.  She was me

I made sure to give her extra attention all weekend.  It was hard to do.  It was a crazy weekend.  Her sisters are pretty outgoing with their attention demands.  ( I love them for that!).  But, we had our moments.  When she was fighting with her sister over shared candy and her crying was overwhelming her I felt her pain.  Not over candy.  But, I felt what she was feeling.  Of not being heard.  Of not feeling that someone was hearing her.  Of course they were.  But, I made sure I did.  Crisis resolved.  Candy shared.  Tears stopped.

But, the moment that got me was when she was sitting at the kitchen with Debbie and me just after dinner.  I asked her if I could braid her hair.  She had told me the day before how she liked braids because when she took them out her hair was curly.  I got that.  I always wanted curly hair too.  She said she would like me to braid it.  So, I started to brush it.  And, I realized something.  Her hair was exactly like mine.  It was straight.  It was thin.  It was fine.  

So, I told her as I brushed her hair that we had the same hair.  She turned around to look at me and she smiled.  I grabbed my hair.  I told her to feel it. Feel her hair.  The same.  Exactly.  I told her how lucky she was to have such hair.  I told her how all the cool high school girls spend lots of money dyeing their hair blonde and straightening it because they want hair like hers.   After I braided her hair she was to go upstairs with her sisters and watch a movie with dad.  She did. For a bit.  But, then she returned to hang around Debbie and me.  I didn't know it then, but I do now.  She wanted to hang a bit more with this person that kind of looked like her.  Like no one she had ever seen before.  Me. 

I was that girl.  I am that girl.  But, like Miss K, I need to change what I can to make me a better person.   To know that I have worth.  That I deserve better than what I think.  And,  to accept the beauty with which I was born with and know that it is what makes me me. 

And, that is and always will be,  beautiful.  Even when I'm hurt.  Even when I gain back weight.  Even when I struggle.  Even when I don't have confidence.  Even when I don't think I deserve to be beautiful.  That I can be more.  I can do more.  I'm still me.  But, I deserve more.  I'm worth more.

Last weekend at the Chicago Do Life 5K I once again met some amazing people.  People like me. People who may not be the fastest runner.  But, whose journey could be a mirror to mine.  With different events, different demons, but a reflection of me in some way.

Long after Ben was in his car and on his way to Indy five of us women (including dear Claire ) stood on the corner where we said goodbye to him and talked.  And talked.  And talked.  And talked.  For over an hour.  Amongst us 420+ pounds had been lost.  We talked about our feeling of not being worthy, of who we had become, the better person we had become.  How we couldn't let go of the "old me".  How it was hard to accept the new people we had become.  We talked about our thighs.  We talked about men.  Even if people saw the beauty in us, we could not see it in ourselves.  We were not worthy to see it in ourselves.  It made me sad.

There stood strong, confident (and extremely tall, by the way) women.  Beautiful women.  Who all felt like little Miss K.   We didn't feel pretty.

But, the good news is that we also talked about we were going to work on accepting the beauty in us.  That we WERE beautiful.  That we would say "thank you" more to compliments instead of deflecting them away. We would no longer think ourselves undeserving of a compliment.  I'm not saying it will be easy.  But, we will try.

Sometimes change is necessary.  To make us better.  To be better.

But, other times we are fine just the way we are. More than fine actually. 

Thank you Miss K for teaching me some valuable lessons.  I can't wait to see what you become.  Whatever it is it will be yours alone.  You will be great at it.  And, you, my dear. are, and will always be beautiful. 

By the way, on another night Debbie told me that Miss H was working on her headstands.  Miss B asked when the tall lady was coming back.  And, Miss K wouldn't take out her braids after I left.  That made me smile so much my cheeks hurt.

I need to remember that when I don't think I am worthy.  When I don't think I'm strong.  When I don't think I'm beautiful.  That I am worthy.  I am strong.  I am beautiful.  I may not look like you.  Or the person who society thinks I should look like.  I may be a bit broken.  But, I'm me.

I can take that me and be a better me.

I've changed my job.  My future.  It's still a bit uncertain.  However, I'm confident it's good change.  I still need to get back to where I was physically a year ago.  Not because I care what you think.  But, because I'm a better me.  A better runner.  A happier person.

But, hey, I already can do a killer headstand.  And, it's quite beautiful. 

So, there. 

>>>>>>>  Debbie blogs about beauty. <<<<<<<<<<<

Its these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane