179 has been my lucky number for almost 20 years, dating back to the good ol’ days of middle school band. It’s like a friendly little omen I see everywhere…
Julie and I have been friends since age 2. This is the kind of friend Julie is: She flew in from England to be in my wedding, she dropped everything to stay with me for a week this summer while DP was out of town (and left me little notes around the house that I’m STILL finding!). She took swim lessons and bought a bike to do this race with me. It was her first triathlon and I was excited for us to do it together. But I had no idea how much I would need her…
|Seriously, we are smiling in EVERY pic!|
I’ve said it before, but I love my Catrike Pocket recumbent trike so much. The sun was out, the sky was perfectly blue, and for once, I couldn’t fall. So I enjoyed every inch of those 9 miles – climbing the hills at an impressive 3.9 mph, screaming down them at 15 mph (which feels faster when you’re so close to the ground). I thought about Jon Blais, all the people supporting me, and what a great feeling it was to use my muscles. So much of what I love to do has been taken away from me this past year – to get a glimpse of it back even for a day was just plain awesome.
Never did it cross my mind that anyone would be waiting at the finish line for us besides our friends and family. Julie and I were 40-some minutes behind the next-to-last competitor. But the announcer had told everyone that they didn’t want to miss the last finishers and so somewhere around 100 people stayed. Apparently, they had a dance party, which should be a mainstay of triathlons forever more 🙂
Walking through the finish chute with everyone clapping and cheering and crying, honestly, I couldn’t look around. I would have lost it. I mean, just watch the video…
|Photo by Sarah Coppola for Tamara Lackey Photography|
People say I inspired them, but it is nothing compared to what reverberated through me from all sides. It was the very best of humanity. What is it like to have that force of compassion directed at you? It defies words. Jon Blais knew. And now I know too. All I can say is thank you. It is a memory and an emotion that my friends, family, and I will never, ever forget.
|The original Team Drea (minus Dr. P)|
Our wonderful friends and family out there: DP, Dr. P (who drove down from Philly as a surprise), my parents, Julie’s parents Isla & Tony and sister Jennifer, Will, Arden, Linda, Kim, Genevieve, Shravan, Jaimi, Stuart, Scott, and Owen. The Swim Bike Mom Tri-Fecta ladies: Robin, Aimee, and Lindsay. And the anonymous people who picked up the check for our table after lunch!
My hero: My amazingly beautiful friend, Julie. In all the photos I’ve seen, there is not one that she isn’t in the frame too — holding me up, helping me, smiling, waving. Julie is MY inspiration to be a better person and better friend.
I hope everyone is lucky enough to find their Julie in life, but mine is truly one of a kind. The fact we found each other in preschool? Everything happens for a reason. Everything.
So fitting that her mom brought the bags of confetti we made out of construction paper in middle school to throw during New Year’s Eve sleepovers!
Where to go from here?
And I’d like to think I could do another triathlon – maybe the HITS open category tri (even shorter than Ramblin’ Rose!) in Naples, FL in January or one of LifeTimeFitness’s Indoor Tris. Not to try to recreate what happened at this race (it can’t be done) but just have something to train for. And because I love triathlon so much. But if not, I will happily ride my trike for as long as I possibly can.
My PT gym always has a new quote on its whiteboard. Here was this week’s:
“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Victor Frankl
I have tended to live life by powering through — head down, just keep pushing. Yeah, that probably did help in the tri, but really, since the diagnosis I’ve let my heart lead the journey. The result has been empowering, humbling, and led to the most extraordinary opportunities I never even saw coming.
Thank you, friends.