After I learned what my course of treatment would be for breast cancer and got my timeline nailed down, the first thing I did was sign up for a triathlon. Okay, two. Two weeks ago, I raced the Brian Ballard with three of my girls and though I had a tough time with the bike and run (and came in fourth to last), it was a great way to celebrate my health with my family.
That race was about telling cancer "F* you. I'm back in action."
The very next weekend, I was scheduled to do our town's amazing, newbie friendly, all female sprint triathlon. This one wasn't about me. It was about community and friendship. One friendship in particular.
My neighbor and great friend was doing her first triathlon. We had planned to do it together when I got my stupid diagnosis but I continued to train with her and support her the best I could. It wasn't what either of us envisioned, but it was the best I could do with the circumstances.
This friend had been an incredible support to me from the moment I got my diagnosis through the entire process. I can't even explain how important her friendship was in my life over that time period. When my husband asked me "Are you going to stay with her during the triathlon or try to beat last year's time?" I didn't even have to think about it. "Oh, I'm totally finding her after the swim and staying with her." This race wasn't about personal best or beating last year's time. It was about thanking someone who had stayed with me through my rough time and at least be there for a race that would test her limits. I knew she could do it, but she didn't know it yet. Hell if I was going to leave her out there on her own. Plus, it's not nearly as fun!
We were starting in different waves, I was in the age group behind her. Because I am old. So, I was hoping I'd catch her on the bike. But I had a tough time on the swim, having to flip over on my back a few times. I didn't swim during radiation (pool water not good for the radiated skin) so I was very undertrained in a sport I with which I have no history.
As an aside, swimming the lake was the part where I vowed to never again swim in open waters again. "Never again, never again" I said with every stroke as I came down the home stretch. It's a Duathlon for me next year.
I can't. I just can't.
But, I survived. Barely.
Thankfully, my friend was still up in the bike transition area, to my shock, but I was happy I didn't have to chase her down. We biked and ran together which made it so much more fun than last year when I was just running alone.
Last year it was about how well I could do. This year it was about how I could support someone who had been so supportive of me. Could she have done it without me? Absolutely. But, I hope in some small way, I helped boost her up when she was doubting herself.
Over 300 women raced in Queen of the Hill this year. These are some of them!
So, that was my triathlon season. Two events in two weeks. Easy, local, friendly, inexpensive, hassle-free, and fun. That's exactly how I like it. I can't deal with freakin' hassle.
These challenging races proved to me that I'm healthy and strong and back in the game.
And THAT, folks, is the real win.