Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Proudest Race

Last weekend's Lake Carolina Triathlon is the race that I am most proud of in my triathlon career. No, I did not win my age group, get a top 10 overall, or set a PR on the distance. In fact, I did not even race! It was the race that the Strictly Running Triathlon Training Group had been training for. IT was the celebration of 8 weeks of hard work by Steve, the coach, John, the other coach, myself and 15 soon to be triathletes.

In addition to it being the big race of this training group, it was also my first foray as a race volunteer. My volunteer duty was to head up the kayakers who watch out for the swimmers. I was teamed up with an outstanding group of lifeguards, kayakers, EMTs and other folks wanting to help. I feel we had one of the safest water legs of any triathlon out there. My ulterior motive for doing this was so I could be out there with a few of our training folks.

We all got organized out in the kayaks and before long it was time for the first wave to start. It was interesting to watch the smooth fast technique of the elite athletes and the first big age groups put on a water version of the WWE on the first corner. Of course, it was the novice groups that we were going to earn us our free t-shirts. At the first 100 yards, a lot of novice women needed us to calm them down and provide a place to rest.

We had one participant name Shannon, who provided a lot of inspiration. She had worked hard the whole time, starting out with a long way to go. Last Saturday, she hit the water with the physical preparation down. She had the strength and skills to complete the distance, but today would test her confidence and persistence. She started last and we had Tricia swim with her to coach her and cheer her on. I let the other kayaker look after the remaining swimmers and I followed Shannon on her journey.
Shannon swam remarkably smooth, stayed straight, just taking it a buoy at a time. Just a couple of weeks ago, she would spend a portion of the workout holding onto the dock, in fear of the open water. This week, she was in a full blown race, hardly even acknowledging the kayak, that she would have grabbed onto a few weeks ago. If fact, she seemed to actually be gaining on some of the swimmers in front of her.

On the last corner, she took a small break and we hear a loud bunch of cheers from the great Wednesday night folks from Strictly Running. Chants of "Shannon, Shannon, Shannon" got closer and closer. We got close to the shore and there were tears of joy, cheers and sighs of relief. The girl who almost did not sign up for the race, just conquered the thing that would keep her from being a triathlete.

I missed a lot of the other action from the other folks in the training group. By the time I got the kayaks packed, got everything and everyone back to shore, a lot of folks were out of range, getting their races finished.

The finish line is a festive place at a triathlon. The friends, families and other participants are cheering the finishers, the announcer is congratulating each finisher as the cross the line and there are lot's snacks, drinks and goodies for the finishers to refuel. The triathlon community gets together, catches up and talks about the day's race. One by one, the remainder of our folks joined the rank of triathletes.

Finally the cheers erupted and it meant one thing, Shannon was on her way to the finish line. Her family and Strictly Running family was there as well. SHE DID IT!!!. An eight week journey was finished and Shannion was now a triathlete.

After the race, I watched the award ceremony and Darrell, one of our runners placed on the 48 deep men's novice division. My friend Nick placed 1st in the 30 to 34 men's division.

Afterward, went home to get Christa and Jenses and we went to Kim's house for a post race party. We had a lot of fun eating good food, talking about the journey and we got to show off Jensen. As usual, he charmed the ladies!
There were a lot of great stories from the Strictly Running Triathlon Team, who I did not get around to mentioning in this blog. Everyone has a story that is equally as compelling as Shannon's. In the end, I will have to run quite a race, to finish the day as proud as I was today.
Sorry I have been away for a while. This has not been a exactly a lazy summer for me. A lot of going on at work and at home. So far, 2008 is becoming a transition year. My next post will reveal more of those details.

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