“Breathe. Just breathe. You’re fine. You just need to rest.”
It was time to drop out of the race.
My day had started out pretty normal for a race day. I was up at 3:45 after an okay night’s sleep. My stomach, as usual per race day, was in knots, and expelling any bit of fluid I had reserved. I made a couple of peanut butter chocolate chip protein pancakes to take along for breakfast, but only managed to get one down. The heat and humidity of the week had kept me from carb-loading, but I took my vitamins, Zipfizz, beet chews and iron.
I felt great at the start of the race. The swim went pretty well, actually. I was calm and able to go 6 or 7 strokes without breathing, then took breaks to glide through the shallows.
I felt good during the transition, but then questioned my sanity after a wobbly start on the bike.
My first bad decision was wearing my bike shoes instead of running shoes. I hadn’t trained in them for a while and was having a bit of trouble adjusting. They’re also not the greatest thing to walk in if you have to dismount.
Heading out of town on the bike route, I decided to pedal in 3rd gear for a while, which I don’t do often, but I was feeling good. I wanted to get as far as I could in a faster speed before I had to climb. Other than the blazing sun and stifling humidity, the day was beautiful. I relished the open road with the wind in my face, the songbirds, the butterflies dancing across the road.
But something was wrong. I felt…off.
I stopped a few times in the shade to take in some sports drink and a packet of fruit punch flavored energy goo. The supplements helped a little, but I could still feel the energy draining from my body. I never had to stop to rest on the flats in a race before.
Eventually, I passed the shady part of the course and the inevitable climbs. I walked a couple of hills and hopped back on for the downhills. I knew I was over halfway through the course, but I began to feel worse. There were more hills ahead and I just didn’t have the energy to even walk them. My body had made up my mind for me.
Stopping alongside the road at an Amish farm, I laid my bike in the grass and sprawled out myself. I just needed to rest and wait for help. I calmly texted my friend, who I figured was on the run course at that point. Maybe she could let a race volunteer know I needed a ride back to the finish area.
Fortunately, a car with two volunteers pulled up and asked if I was okay. They gave me an air-conditioned ride back, and another guy with a pickup drove my bike back. I was very grateful for their assistance.
Another volunteer took my ankle tracker and another marked me as DNF. I hate writing those letters. Feeling utter defeat, I loped back to my transition area, parked myself on my bucket, and had a good cry. I was relieved to be finished, but so angry at myself for failing. I think this is why INFJs like me are afraid to fail…because it is so soul-crushing when you do.
So why do I do this to myself? As a currently 224-pound woman, I know I’m probably going to finish last, if I even do finish. When I started doing sprint tris at age 35, I knew very little about the sport. All I knew was, I really, really wanted to be a triathlete. But year after year, I lost weight, I trained, and I improved. I was never the fastest or the skinniest or the fittest. But I was there for 5 years, finishing 7 races. I even placed in my age group the last time I had competed in this very race!
Why do I do this to myself?
Because nobody’s gonna take my fire.
Not this world, nor my inner voices, nor the naysayers.
I do this to encourage others to dream dreams, work hard, and take risks. To get up off the couch and use their bodies and feel good about themselves. I want to inspire people to stay active as they age and take care of their hearts and minds.
I watched both of my grandmothers physically decline as the result of strokes, and then pass away. I now know that diabetes also runs in my family. I don’t want that for me. And I want to be a good role model for my nephew and niece, to encourage them to be healthy and active as they grow.
God gave me a second chance after CIDP, and I’m going to do the best that I can to live a victorious, healthy, active life! Even if I have to drop out of a race, I will press on toward my goal, and when I cross the finish line into Heaven, I will hear the words “Well done.”