Thursday, July 31, 2008

Do Not Be Afraid

St. Croix Half Iron Finish 08

There some things in this life that can't be avoided, people get hurt, people get sick, people treat you (your family, your friends etc.) un-fairly or without respect. These are the facts of life. I don't like it sometimes any more than I like stubbing my toe, or failing at something. They hurt, they make our soul bleed sometimes, they change our outlook, our attitude, our perspective. The world never stops, although sometimes it stops us in our tracks and forces us to examine ourselves, why we do what we do, and our reaction to these types of things.

Even if we don't admit it, at some point we are all afraid of something. It could be we're afraid of loosing a loved one, or it could be doing something we have never done before. How will we react? What will we say to others? Will we hide behind a positive exterior while feeling our stomach sicken and our heart become weary? Will we let it out for the world to see and feel vulnerable, yet more at peace?
I ask these questions because so much has happened this week, this month, this year - so many changes, so many people around me having health issues, so many things I could constantly worry about if I really stopped to think about it.

Just this week I read a blog where a wonderful girl talked about dealing with issues of depression, anger and just raw emotion while recovering from a bike accident earlier this year. It reminded me that we are all the same, a bit of each of us can empathize with this person, and can feel a bit of their pain, even understand from an outsiders point of view, what they are going through.

My husband saw a terrible accident this week. Actually, he didn't just see it, he was almost in it. He witness the entire thing, start to finish- jeep rolling in the air, people flying out of the car, and he stayed beside the road with the 28 year old women with broken legs while he realized her husband didn't make it. I saw his eyes afterward and they were so incredibly sad. He felt the helplessness, the anguish of this women, and mourned for her loss. These things are real, this is life. It would be abnormal if he didn't feel that way. We're just human.

My point seems to bring me back to thoughts of racing, and why we/I do this. Part of me loves the competition, part of me just likes being outside, part of me wants to see my athletic side continue to evolve in a new sport (or three sports). I love the feeling when I cross the finish line of a race, I feel completely alive, and so thankful just to have the opportunity to be out among the crowds. I also think of those who wish they could race and they can't for whatever reason, and I do it for them too, even if I don't even know them.

Deep down though, I have some ghosts, some of which may be familiar to even you. They are also real. Ghosts like being afraid to fail, afraid of the pain that sometimes comes with competition, and even being afraid for my safety as I ride for hours upon end in training and racing.

Truth be told, my track record at anything over an Olympic distance triathlon isn't that good in terms of safety etc. I've had such nutrition issues (loosing bottles, dyslexia about how long the bike was and just not finishing name it) in both of the last times I've raced a half ironman race. Unfortunately, at some point or another in the race I've been crawling.

At St. Croix, I was so close to the finish line, I could smell it, people were cheering loudly as my name was called over the speaker, but I was out of fuel. There was nothing left as my legs began to fail me. Sadly, there were no choices, my mind could not overcome matter for 20 more feet, and I fell to the ground in front of hundreds of people, which is when Kyle started yelling my name.

I couldn't hear anything else, only him. As the medical team was asked to come out onto the course, I knew it was crawl or DNF. It took everything I had to get my body moving on all fours, knees scraping the ground, mind dizzy and confused. They followed me as I crawled and the crowd was going wild as Kyle screamed "don't touch her, she's going to finish." He knew my heart, and he knew that was what I would want him to say in that situation although looking back, it was probably very painful for him to see me in that state. Once an arm was over the line, I did a final collapse but before I hit the ground, I was scooped up by four men on the medical team, and rushed to the medical tent where I would receive 6 courts of IV fluid before feeling better.
At that point, I didn't know if I was first, or last, and it didn't really matter - Hawaii Slot or no, Hawaii Slot, I am not one to quit if I can do anything within my power to avoid it. I'm not saying anyone would have been any less for stopping right there, but that day, that moment, I just refused with a strong will, and more importantly a stronger savior.
I am not telling this story to make myself look heroic, it's so far from that it's ridiculous. I'm telling it because like Marit, I feel it will help me to get it out there. If I talk about the fact that I do think about that day sometimes, and a part of me is afraid it will happen again, maybe I can move past it and race with the heart (and hopefully this weekend with good nutrition) that I know I have done in shorter races, and will do again this weekend at Whrilpool Steelhead half-ironman.

The Lord said, "Do not be afraid, I am with you always," and now I have to trust that, believe that, and know that more than ever. This weekend I will face my fears, my demons, and once again put myself out there. I have been praying, and will continue to pray, that I have a safe day, as do all of the other athletes out there.

So many (including my family) say, "why put yourself in that situation of possible harm, there's enough things in this word that can hurt you?" It's all about lines people, on this side of the line stands someone who has not yet discovered what I can do at the half-iron distance, someone who doesn't want to be afraid and is willing to keep trying. On the other side of that line on Saturday will (hopefully) stand someone, who with much help, has learned more about fueling her body, and can feel confident about moving up to the next distance in the not very distant future.

Why do it - because we can, because we aren't going to let fear stand in our way, because not doing it, is not an option.

I do some mummy double work in my spare time :)

So, wish me luck on Saturday in Michigan, and please pray for all the people in the race & other races too - safe bikes, good nutrition and a great day for all!

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