Sunday, July 13, 2008

OMG Triathlon!

Congratulations to Sooz, for finishing her first triathlon in 1:53:39, kicking my own course PR all to hell and smashing her personal goal of 2:00:00. You rock!!

The title of this post comes from an email that Sooz sent me last Thursday - right before we took off for the Danskin Triathlon.

Due to the impending Bean, I was not comfortable competing this year - it was truly a personal decision, as I saw at least two visibly pregnant women in the field, and congratulated them on being braver than I. Instead of pushing myself through my training, or doing what I would consider a half-assed job at training and competing, or putting myself into an unknown, uncomfortable position (i.e., a race where I could get kicked or run over or injured) I chose to involve myself as a race volunteer this year, and accompany Sooz to the tri as we planned before the Bean decided to appear. I also have a tendency to turn into a rather competitive animal when I race - and I didn't think the adrenaline surge would be the best thing for the Bean at this stage.

I spent Saturday at the info booth, lining about 300 early birds up into orderly queues for registration entry (they started showing up at 8:30am for a 10AM opening), then repeating the parking/shuttle/bike racking directions ad nauseum to many athletes and friends who did not bother to read the website. Fortunately, being a two year vet, as well as a (former) local yokel helped matters a lot - I was able to give what I thought was good advice. It was a lot of fun - and the bonus for the info booth was CHAIRS! I got to sit down and rest my legs a bit during intervals on my 8-2 shift.

This morning, we were up BEFORE dawn (3:30AM!) because I had an event pass where I was allowed to park inside the event venue - but I had to report for my volunteer shift at 4:30am. Sooz went with me so she didn't have to freak out about catching a shuttle. The excitement of the day ended up occurring about 10 minutes after we arrived, when Sooz discovered she'd forgotten the key to her bike lock. This necessitated me making a quick run home and retrieving the keys, then racing back to the race site without arising the concern of the local constabulary. All was well after my mission of mercy, and I continued to work the transition area. My duties mostly included asking anyone if they had questions or needed help, running around with Coach Ken's bike pump and pumping tires, directing human traffic, and kicking everyone out at 6:30am. (Not as easy at it may seem.)

My next job involved traffic control at the swim out - we had to keep the crosswalk clear of spectators whilst the athletes were crossing over the walk path. (Again, not easy. Try herding cats. Possibly easier than telling insistent husbands and boyfriends that the crosswalk was not an appropriate place to stand and wait 10 minutes to take a photo of their athlete coming out of the water.)

Once most of the mixed agers were out of the water, I wandered over to the finish line to watch Sooz run in. I found Steven and Jeremy - her two boyz - and we waited about 15 minutes until she came round the bend, running in and finishing strong.

We found her right after the finish, bawling and with her medal around her neck. I choked up and cried myself at the sight - I can pretend to blame the pregnancy hormones for turning me into a squooshy mess, but in truth, I remember doing the exact same thing two years ago - collapsing in sobs and tears in the boy's arms right after I finished my first triathlon. I just remember telling her how proud I was of her, and how amazing she is as a person and an athlete. We all got pix with the new triathlete, and then I headed back to transition to finish my shift by checking athletes and bikes out after transition was opened to be cleared. Thanks to the trusty parking pass, we cleared out of the venue post-haste, got back to the house to shower, change and pack up, and then headed home to the TC - but not before a post-race celebratory burger-and-custard at the legendary Kopp's in Milwaukee.

Today was a great day - I am so incredibly proud of my friend, at what she's accomplished and what she has the strength to do. She's strong and beautiful, and now I have a training buddy in the T.C.!! She's thoroughly addicted to tri and is already talking about more races, offseason training, and next year's tri schedule. (As if I needed another reason to *heart* Sooz.) We're both toying with the idea of the Duluth Olympic next August - and I would love nothing more than to take this year's goal and move it to next year.

For a few moments, I was insanely jealous that I wasn't out there, bodygliding my thighs and racking up my Trek with the rest of the gang - but in the end, volunteering reminded me of how much I truly love triathlon, and how much I have to work for and look forward to next year. Once this Bean is a reality, training will be that much harder, but I want to be one of those moms that grabs their kids on their way into the finish line. I met breastfeeding moms and new moms and pregnant moms and mothers and daughters and grandmothers and 4000 amazing women, each with a story to tell and each with their own reason for being out there today. The girl and the Bean are my reasons every single year I tri.

As much as I would have given my eyeteeth to have been in the lake, on the bike, and on my toes today, I'm grateful for the time I did have to help out 4000 other women accomplish their dreams and goals.

And I'm grateful for friends like Sooz, who inspire me.

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