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Monday, August 15, 2011

Cobourg Try a Tri 2011 - A blind girls tale....

Memoirs of triathlon virginity lost...

Restlessness.  It fills the morning fog with chaos and excitement.  Tension building in the coffee pot quietly perking in the dark.  A quiver on my lips before you notice.  A momentary relentless need to scream as the alarm finally signals the allowance of sunrise.  Creeping in through the curtain like a soft toxin taking over.

Breathe in.  For goodness sake.... breathe out.

Accomplishments in the small things.  Five people in the car by 6am.  Breakfast turning in my tummy  Bags packed and unpacked a dozen times.  All things forgotten.  Remember your courage.

The course, the registration table, the parking, the kids transferred to friends, the transition set up... all a blur.  A winding twirling maddening blur of movement and noise.  Sunglasses begging to cover and protect my eyes... I was trying to transition with the sunrise.  Trying not to panic at the moment of big bright lights when they came off.  It was working.  It was maddening.  Every second brighter.  Every second busier.  Every second loss of vision. 

Breathe in.... And out. Almost there.

Met the course director.  A very nice guy, well seasoned in the rough water and cold weather.  Wet suits mandatory.  Good.  I didn't bring it to look funny.  At least this way I'll fit in.

PA greetings and instructions.  Comments on the bike.  Notification that we are on the course.  Oh good... if I lose my guide someone's likely to point me to the finish line now.

Down to the water, forgot the tether. I'll stand here looking silly.  You run guide run.... My husband.  Bless him... My fear all bottled up in a knot knowing he is here.  I am not alone.  Except, I realise, I am alone... currently on a crowded beach... with noise and no glasses.  And no guide. 

Breathe in ... And out.... I hear my kids. No one else makes that much noise. 

Get wet they say... they chant it like seagulls in a disney movie.  I'm listening... get wet.  SWEET  JESUS water should not be that cold.  I'm not a penguin.  My feet have disappeared.  But we are late and ushered back to shore before it can seep past my senses and into the realm of reality.  I must be dreaming.  That water is impossible.  God's idea of a joke.  I see him sitting there looking down thinking... You crazy fool... Do you not have limits?

We are in the second wave.  Yellow caps everywhere.  There's a guy in a yellow wet suit.  All quite humorous to me.... yellow is invisible.  It's a nothingness. As if in a void... we all have no heads.  but there is no skyline there either... just.... nothingness.  now is not the time for giggling... The air gun is not working...

Breathe .... in and out... your future is calling out in that nothingness.

I imagine myself swimming without a head.  And we are running.  Brave and free... strong and tall.  And all completely headless. Then it hits me.

My hands are numb.  My feet are gone.. ice everywhere.  Sharp stinging needles from my calves up.  This is not swimming... This is not racing, I am not moving.  I am frozen in space and time.  My hearing fades.  The waves and the wind and the calm that spins me away. 

Swirling and sweeping in and out of focus.  I see the sun like a brilliant beam of brightness spilling into the water.  My only landmark.  I hear my guide saying reassuring things.  How can you talk I think.  I can't think. My hand brushes a swimmer in all the wrong places.... I take a minute and breathe... into the wave.  cough cough sputter... My guide is on the other side.  Not my husband that I just brushed so delicately in the water.  Apologies unspoken.  Keep swimming headless penguin. You will live to be grabbed another day.

Breathe girl breathe.... in and out.  Fear doesn't live when you are surviving. 

Faster strokes.  End up under my guide.  Oops.... On track.  Standing up now... running now... I hear my kids.  No one makes that much noise.  Run, zipper, run... I've never been so happy to see my glasses again.  Vision rushes back like a gracious gift from the heavens as if to say, you have passed - bike if you can.

"Doris" Leans there beautiful in wait.  My streamers flashing in the sun.  All the fog gone now.  I'm so happy to see her.  Wet suit off. My shorts dripping.  We are running.  People are smiling at our Doris.  She is sweet.  She is innocent. She is about to be set free.  She is about to prove her worth.  She is squeaking like the dirty old hag she is.  That is her promise.  She is not perfect.  That's okay - neither am I.

Breathing without help now. Blood and feeling in my hands and feet.  Slowly but it's coming.

We are on the bike pedalling.  Good old Doris, makes a handful of passes, up the hills, down the hills.  10km of bliss on her.  I can't help it. I'm singing out loud.  I never sing out loud.  Here I am, a glimpse of a hope of a future I didn't intend.  Crying and smiling and singing. All with the most important man I know.

Two people shout "that's cheating" I answer didn't you see me standing up?  I think if this is cheating It's cheating death.  It's cheating misery.  It's cheating sedentarianism.  This, my friend, is all things possible in the breath of a blind girl blessed to be alive. 

Back into transition... I hear my kids... No one is that loud.

And we are running.  Good-bye beautiful Doris, leaning there on the fence.  She stands tall, proud and tired. She will not likely race again.

Feet don't fail me now.  Come on it's only day 226.  2.5km is nothing.  Lets go.  Guide sets a 6min/km pace.  My sprint.  We slow.  We run. I'm still smiling.

Friends on the side of the road.  Waving shouting also smiling.  So at peace in this part.  Running.  This is me.  The me I have come to know.  It's not fancy, It's not fast, glamorous or perfect.  It's just me.  Feet kissing the earth singing every step... Accept this me.  Love this me.  I am this me.

I hear my kids, almost there.... no one is that loud.

Faster than the fading of the memory of the cold water the race is done.  It's over. I am standing still again.  already counting days until the next time.  Thanking Doris, my husband, my family, my friends. 

Sinking into my impatience..... This race pushed me when all I wished  was to be pushed.  Yes I will tri again.  I wonder if there is more of me in those waters?  Where do you find the little pieces of yourself? I found many that night in the grains of sand in my bed.  The beach saying thanks for coming. 

The race people gave us some hardware.  That's exciting.  Another little piece of me.  Created into memory.

Day 227 or 365 days of running - current total 1186.76km


Athletes in Tandem said...

Thanks for sharing your experience on the triathlon through your "eyes". I'm practicing tethered swimming with my friend Dan who is visually impaired. We are looking at doing a triathlon in the next month together. I'll share your story with him. Nice job!!

Dennis Vanderheiden
Athletes in Tandem

Indianabackdoc said...

All I got is WOW you are an inspiration!!!! It is my pleasure to know you. Now time to start prepping for the next race:-)

Indianabackdoc said...

All I got is WOW you are an inspiration!!!! It is my pleasure to know you. Now time to start prepping for the next race:-)