When our relay team came together, Ann Erker Nicocelli wrote that sometimes life gives us poetry. Our team was definitely poetry and beauty. Ann, Vickie Daniel Singer and I came together to do the Luray Sprint this year. We all met at She Does Tri camp in April 2011. Vickie and I were campers and Ann came to speak to the group.
Each one of us has a unique story. We have overcome physical illness and obstacles. We are here, living every precious day, competing in triathlons, despite the odds that were stacked against us. I want to dwell on the joy we found in coming together, competing as a team, and crossing the finish line.
Initially I was going to swim and run while Vickie biked. I can’t remember exactly how the discussion got going again on the She Does Tri Facebook group, but it was meant to be and Ann joined us as the runner (Yay!).
Ann arranged for us to stay at Darryl Haley’s Bed and Breakfast together. It was wonderful to spend time together before the race as well as race together.
Both of these women inspire me. Their beautiful spirits embrace life; they have generous hearts; they laugh, work hard, love their families and others. I am so blessed to have them as a part of my life.
On Sunday morning we got up early, because that is what triathletes do, and prepared with the rest of the group at the B&B. Darryl had breakfast for us early. It was wonderful to stay with someone who is an athlete and an Ironman and who understands triathletes needs.
The water was wetsuit legal again on Sunday morning but I was not as worried about it as I had initially been on Saturday morning. I knew that I did not really need a wetsuit in Lake Arrowhead. The three of us registered, were body marked, picked up the chip and went to the transition area. I headed to the lake to warm up.
Vickie and Ann joined me on the beach where Jenny Ruley took our photo.
My swim was much easier on Sunday morning. I decided that I would not be hesitant during the first 200 yards and I wasn’t. The course was only 750 yards on Sunday and, because we were a relay, I was in the last wave again. Once again, I followed my coach’s advice for warm-up, thought about the “Mei Mei box” and was able to establish my stroke pattern quicker. Darryl and I had talked about why I do this – why we do this – it’s a crazy looking sport to many people and sometimes it is to those of us who participate in it. It can be a joyful experience, however. Accomplishing a goal, overcoming the fear of swimming in the open water, and some days just finishing all bring joy.
Once again, I had my canoe angels watching over me. Though I did not realize it at the time, another new friend and his wife were in a kayak watching out for me. And David Glover was on the dock where he remains until the final swimmer is out of the water. David captured photos of me in the water and coming out. Thank you for doing this, David.
By the way, I wear the larger googles because I am blind in one eye and figure if I am going to get kicked in the face, they might be better than the googles I wear in the pool.
I exited the water, ran over the mat in 36:19, a bit slower than I had hoped but not too bad. There were a number of people waiting at the top of the stairs which was very nice. I turned over the chip to Vickie and she went on her way on the bike.
The bike portion was 17 miles and took a little over an hour. While we waited, we watched Ann’s daughter and her boyfriend Rob’s children as they played, cheered for other friends, and talked.
Vickie came in and Ann took the chip. She headed out for the 5k run with pure joy.
Ann’s run was around 30 minutes, so again, we talked, cheered, and waited for her to come over the finish line. Her daughter, Sofia, finished the race with her.
Jenny Ruley captured this photo of Ann. Her joy expresses what we all were feeling as we competed in the race together. Life is truly beautiful.