Below is Sara’s race report for her first triathlon EVER at Ramblin’ Rose Chapel Hill. It makes me incredibly happy to know that ALS (indirectly) led to this experience. For as crappy of a disease as it is, it can still create new opportunities, friendships, and personal triumphs.
I first met Andrea when my good friend Robin hosted a Perfectly Posh party for me that turned into a Team Drea fundraiser. Andrea attended the party at my house and I knew that day that I need to do everything I can to stop ALS. I joined the team and started training for my first race!
To train, I kept it simple. I pulled the kids around the neighborhood in my bike trailer. We made stops at the pool and while they played in their puddle jumpers, I “swam laps.” I took cross training classes at the Y and the day before the race I bought my first pair of swim goggles. Oh man, I was so out of my league.
I arrived by 7am and found my way to the chip table. The body marking man asked my age — I said 40 and then looked around for the last 10 years! He asked my swim ability number and wanted to say “1” but Robin had earlier convinced me to at least say “3,” so 3 it was.
Robin found me and helped me set up my transition area. We sat to stretch and an adorable snail was sitting by my foot — I hoped that wasn’t a sign! But I snapped a pic and put my phone away, so my shield was gone. I suddenly realized I was standing in my bathing suit in a parking lot with a large group of strong, powerful and determined women. We all had all been marked with name, age, and swim ability on our bodies and our faces each had their own expressions. Excited, focused, and in my case, fearful. “Be brave Sara,” I reminded myself.
My group waited over an hour to get into the pool so I got to see the first finisher cross the line! I was feeling emotional and slightly overwhelmed with the experience, but proud and thankful for even being there. I had no idea what was ahead of me, and I felt mostly unprepared, but women were feeling the same fears as me so I tried to have fun.
…although “fun” was the last word I’d use when I got into the pool and started to swim. I had never practiced swimming in a pool with others, and wasn’t prepared for the waves. I sniffed up more water than I had drank that morning, and my goggles weren’t airtight so I immediately had to take them off and just go. It was hard. But there were only about 10 women behind me so at least there wasn’t stress of being in the way. Swim: 9:23
Off to the bike! Transition wasn’t great but not horrible. Putting tight bike shorts and socks on when wet kind of blows, but I got it done and made my way. T1: 3:53
The bike was the only part I wasn’t afraid of. I’ve never ridden with traffic, but at one time I was serious about mountain biking, so obstacles aren’t foreign to me. After rounding the first corner there is a fairly steep hill that is intimidating. I made it up, and that gave me the confidence to go fast back down. I never set my odometer and had no idea of my speed or mileage, but I wasn’t trying to beat a time. It felt great to be on my bike without the trailer. It was ME again. Myself, my thoughts and my will. I passed a few women and was feeling tired but incredible. I was in a triathlon! The finish line came surprisingly quick and I had just 2 miles left. Bike: 48:35
I racked my bike, grabbed my water bottle, and took off for the run. I really wish I would have stopped to take 2 minutes to stretch because I think if I had I could have made up that time on the run. I didn’t even take my helmet off until I got to the timing pad…oops. When I realized, and set it on the ground off to the side, a helpful volunteer told me he’d walk it to my bike for me. I thanked him and off I went! T2: 1:42
The run was an out-and-back through a nice neighborhood. My plan going in was to pretend that someone was chasing me. Turns out they were, but then they quickly passed me by! There went everyone I had passed on the bike! My left hamstring screamed if I tried to quicken my pace.
Women running (and walking) in both directions all gave encouragement and I returned it, but my hamstring was painful and this was when I had to dig deep. I thought about the struggle that Andrea must feel as her body goes through these changes, and how incredibly strong she is for not giving in, and I kept pushing. At the last corner someone had hand written a sign that said “You’re almost to the end. This is it! Push and finish strong. RUN!” So, I did. I forgot about the pain, and I ran until I got through the finish line, and then what I was sure would be tears was just a big ole SMILE. I haven’t felt that type of accomplished in a very long time. I seriously couldn’t stop smiling. It was so big that I probably wouldn’t have recognized myself if I had looked in a mirror. Thankful. Run: 33:38
I rushed home to get back to my kids but checked out the preliminary results as I was leaving. I finished 337/384 which wasn’t too shabby, all things considered. I plan to start taking swim lessons at the Y to get my skills up in the pool, and lose about 30 pounds this year. I’ve even started researching sprint tri’s in the area for kicks. Overall I’m just incredibly grateful for Andrea’s drive and leadership and for what her reminder to be brave and thankful has done for me. I hope to see you all at RR 2017!