I am very independent, but I could not imagine going through this experience alone. It would be far less interesting and not nearly as rewarding. I have relied on the strength and encouragement of so many. They keep me accountable, they get excited for me when I’ve reached a new level of training, make fun of me regularly, check in if they haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ll name a few of them as I move through race weekend, but I know I won’t be able to list them all given the sheer number. I am a lucky woman. But I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically mention one in particular.
My cousin attends most of my races, including those which require travel. We have fantastic adventures together. Check out her blog at http://www.seesmartyrun.com/. Our travels usually include a half marathon and a LOT of laughter. Below is a picture of us at the Phoenix Rock and Roll half marathon last January where she raised money for the American Cancer Society through the DetermiNation Endurance Event Program. I love that we both have shirts with the word “Determination” on them, each for a different purpose, and we’re supportive of each other in our endeavors.
On the home front, she is my biggest supporter. She leaves me motivational quotes in my office. She has this uncanny ability to find the most perfect cards for any occasion. She is my accountability partner for workouts, my cheerleader for good days and bad, and she is the mother of two of my favorite little boys. I spend a lot of time with the family and I feel recharged when I do. And not just because they feed me and send me home with all of the leftovers. Last year, after a personally catastrophic group open water swim session, I had a complete meltdown. Everything went wrong and for the first time, I truly wondered if I would be able to do this. I dutifully sent a text as I always did, to let her and her husband know that I was done with my swim, but it was clearly a distressed text. I couldn’t call because I was sobbing. She called as soon as she received it. It is rare for me to be in that state of mind and she sensed it. Her words were simple, but perfect. “We are all proud of you. We love you. All you can do out there is your best. The outcome doesn’t matter. You matter, and all we expect from you is that you do your best. Nobody expects anything more than that, and you shouldn’t either.”
I hope everyone has at least one person like that in their corner. After I had been sick and lost nearly a month of training, I decided that I wanted a sign to hold up as I crossed the finish line. I wanted it to read, “Dear Asthma: I WIN!” I knew Christine was the right person for the job, so I asked her to make one for me. She gladly accepted the task.
Last year I made considerable gains with running. I had to back off of that this year as it was causing other issues, so my goals for improvement were mostly with swimming. It had taken me so long but I finally felt like the work was paying off. In the two months leading up to race day, my swim times significantly improved. I was feeling more confident, less intimidated. One particular open water swim session would become the very workout which I believe prepared me mentally for the conditions on race day a few weeks later. It was a very windy day and the water temperature was 54 degrees. The lake was growing more unstable by the minute. I was terrified but determined so I put on my brave face, growled at the water and dove in. Our friend and talented photographer, Brittney Price (BKP Photography) walked the beach and recorded our efforts. It’s hard not to be critical of my form and admonish myself for having my head that far out of the water but the waves were fierce and intimidating by then; the photo doesn’t really depict that but they were HUGE. I swear!
After my usual agonizing 20 minute warm up, I fell into a comfortable rhythm. I was pleasantly surprised. I finished the 1.2 mile tumultuous effort in 49 minutes! I had to double check with others to make sure my watch was correct! I was so happy that I showed up that morning instead of giving myself an excuse to stay behind after consulting the weather report. I knew after that day that no matter what the weather on race day, I would make it through the swim. That in itself was an enormous victory.
Two weeks before race day, I started having those random but familiar attacks of butterflies in my stomach. But it wasn’t anxiety this time. I had such a peace about it this year and the butterflies were simply a manifestation of joy and anticipation. Everything seemed to be falling into place. I started making my gear bag piles using checklists I had obtained from friends and workshops. I arranged to take the appropriate amount of vacation time in order to prepare and not feel rushed. My collection of Turtle paraphernalia signifying my caboose status as a racer had grown exponentially over the past two years. Turtle Girl was ready.
Best of all, my health was back on track. I followed a strict regimen of making sure my body and cells were getting the nutrients they need in order to stave off asthma symptoms and anything that might trigger them. This included a minimum of 15,000mg of Vitamin C, 6000 IU of Vitamin D and 3000mg of Omega 3 supplements per day. I began seeing a new doctor who administered Allergy / Sensitivity Elimination and Reprogramming Technique (A/SERT). It’s amazing. Never again will I take an antibiotic or prednisone before receiving this treatment! It is considered alternative and insurance does not cover it, but after trying every conceivable treatment over a lifetime with minimally consistent results, this was a real eye opener and the results are virtually instant. More on this treatment later.
Race day was just a few days away. I had a very strong feeling that the day was going to be extraordinary. I had no idea just how extraordinary it would be.