Swim. Bike. Run…. Iron Girl

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on August 24, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Yesterday was the Iron Girl Triathlon. I am happy to say that I finished and achieved my goal of finishing in under 2 1/2 hours! I had been kinda quiet about the event over the past couple of weeks because I hadn’t been able to dedicate as much training time as I wanted. And I was unsure of whether I would succeed at crossing the finish line. I just had my last session of PT last week, so I didn’t run at all the whole summer. I could tell that yesterday when I got off the bike and my mind said “Go!” and my legs said “NO!”.

It was a great day, and a great weekend. I spent about 2 days straight with 2 great girls- Anne & Laura Beth- and they really made the whole thing fun and an adventure. From wrangling the bikes on the top of the car, cramming 3 people in the front seat while driving back and forth all over Maryland & DC, carbo loading, going over race prep, watching people stumble home at 5 am while we were heading to the race, photo ops, seeing each other out on the course and watching them finish… we had a blast. And we’re all ready to do it again!

I did the event with Team Fight, a group that supports the Ulman Fund for young adult cancer survivors. I have written about the organization in the past, and I can’t say enough good things about their work and the people, who have become good friends and been so supportive of me sicne Dan’s death. I was recently asked to be on their advisory board, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be involved in this cause. Every year over 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer. The Ulman Fund does a great job of advocating for young adults and helping them cope with and beyond cancer. Seeing everyone out in their Team Fight jerseys yesterday and hearing all the support on the course was a huge motivator for me.

I raced for all my friends with cancer, and for those with family members as well. Hard to believe that 3 years ago I knew only 1 or 2 friends who had been impacted by the disease. Now it’s dozens. I carried their names with me on a little piece of paper in a plastic bag. I also had Dan’s mass card with me. I was reminded several times along the way of all the lessons I’ve learned from each. We all deal with cancer differently, but once it’s touched you, you have such a respect and empathy for others who have gone through similar things.

The swim was ok. It was a little intimidating out there in the middle of 100 other women. Plus, I almost fainted when I realized that the bouy I thought was the turnaround point was just the first bouy. Aside from swimming massively off-course and getting my goggles kicked off by another swimmer, I had a good time. It felt pretty cool to get out of the water and run into the transition area. The bike was pretty fun as well. No problems there. The run was pretty tough. The 3.4 mile course seemed to be 80% up hill. Since I hadn’t run but once the entire summer, I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. And even though I was sucking wind during the run, and was so much slower than I wanted, it was just important to keep moving and not quit. Once I hit the 2 mile marker, I was relieved. Of course there was a nice big hill to get up before the finish, but I made it. And it feels pretty cool to hear them announce your name!

But the biggest reason I did the race was for me. Yes, my training wasn’t up to my normal standards. But it gave me something to focus on for me… not Dan’s memory or Dan’s foundation. I could truly escape into the gym or the pool all summer. There, I was just me, not someone who had experienced an a terrible loss or the girl whose fiance died from cancer. This experince- the lack of training & the injury- taught me that I can will myself to do anything. I may not be fast, but I will not quit and am not easily discouraged. I am willfully determined. I guess there is something about a triathlon that makes you feel a little bad a** (sorry for the language, but no other word would do). Go ahead world… bring it!

Here are some pictures. I was so lucky my mom came and was my photographer. And somehow she managed to spot me at each transition and right at the finish line. She gave me a great little boost every time. I have a great mom- the best!

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