I don’t really remember a time in my life when I was not aware of the concept that there are angels around us, watching over us, protecting us. Likewise, I have been surrounded by people who have generous spirits and give to others even when it means a sacrifice for themselves. I find both of these attributes in triathletes. There is a spirit of support and generosity in many triathletes. We are willing to support one another, to cheer one another on, to watch over one another. We know what it takes to get to the starting line, let alone to the finish line, and that every race, no matter what the time, is a victory.
As I struggled with my chain on Saturday and then walked back to the point where I could get assistance and hopefully a ride, every triathlete who passed me offered to stop and help. I waved all of them on but appreciated the offers. Some shouted advice about what to try. Understand that many of these people were riding between 15-20 plus miles an hour as they passed me. Like at Buster Britton, there were supportive friends when I returned to Lake Arrowhead. Much better athletes than I am have had things go wrong on a course and were unable to finish a race.
I posted a photo on my Facebook page over the weekend and promised to add the story later. Here is the photo again:
The story began for me because I was looking for both Tracy and Evan, members of Team Z. Tracy and I had connected through Facebook via Krista Schultz and David Glover. Evan and I connected because David Glover introduced us via email about a project that Evan is working on. I had been asking Team Z members if they knew either Evan or Tracy, not realizing at first just how big the team is. I eventually found Tracy in the Team Z tent because I had seen enough photos of her to recognize her.
Here is the story about the photo. Tracy and I were talking when David Connor, a member of Team FeXY, walked up to her. He had a water bottle and some bike tools in his hand and told us about having a flat on the course, not having the right tube in his bag, and a guy from Team Z tossing the water bottle to him. It had the right tube, the bike tools and everything he needed to quickly change the flat and not have to sacrifice the race. David wanted to thank the person but did not know who it was – just that the water bottle had the Team Z logo and he thought the person was a member. Tracy called to a guy she knew and asked if he had heard about anyone who had done this. (Turned out that I had asked him (Andrew) if he knew Evan but not if he knew Tracy. ) We walked over to the Team Z tent and Tracy called out the same question. A guy sitting in front of us said he had been the one. Instinctively I knew that this was Evan. I was right. The world overlaps and connects us in ways that we simply could not plan or imagine. This kind of generous spirit is what I often find in triathlon. There are truly good and kind people in the sport.
Evan’s project is currently a blog, relating stories about people who have overcome obstacles to participate in triathlon. The site is called Race with Gratitude. There are a few stories there already and hopefully mine will be there soon.
Nikki was one of the other triathletes who was staying at Darryl’s. Due to a shoulder injury, she could not swim so on Saturday she was the “team mom” for her husband Sam and her friend Emily. Her hospitality extended to the rest of us staying at Darryl’s though. Nikki had a bag full of cookies, band aids, sunscreen, and whatever else a triathlete could need. She had a great shirt and a sparkly hat that she wore. I understand the difficulty of remaining on the sidelines with an injury when you really want to be part of the race. But Nikki maintained a cheerful spirit that was contagious. I am so glad I met her, Sam and Emily and really look forward to more fun in October.
A couple of my posts about Luray have mentioned the fantastic support on the swim course. I also mentioned the canoe that stayed with me on Saturday. As I approached the first buoy on Saturday, a canoe pulled up beside me. The women in the canoe began talking to me and told me that they would stay beside me as I swam. It looked like a very long way at that point but I knew that I had to finish this one and I certainly appreciated the assistance. Missy began talking to me and encouraging me. She asked me where I was from and when I said Tuscaloosa, she told me her husband had attended medical school at UAB and she had attended Birmingham Southern. It is a small world. Missy and Morgan stayed near me the entire way around. I was able to rest as I needed to and figure out where the next buoy was located if I could not clearly see it. They cheered for me as my swim strengthened and as I gained confidence after I rounded the third buoy and did know that I could make it even though it was still a long ways. I was near last in the water and I imagined that I would have to turn my chip in when I made it to shore. I didn’t have to, however.
As I neared shore I saw David Glover on the dock. I have also mentioned this in another post. David remains until the finally swimmer is out of the water. I know it is part of his race director duties but I found it comforting to know that he was there, watching out over the lake and knew he would be the next day as well.
I saw Missy later and we spoke for a few minutes. I thanked her and Morgan for helping me. She said she would look for me the next day but probably could not stay with me since there are usually more swimmers in a sprint who need assistance.
But on Sunday morning she was there for me again. I saw her before the race and we greeted one another with a hug and words of thanks (me) and encouragement (Missy). This time the other woman in the canoe was Barbie. My swim was much stronger on Sunday, but I was still one of the slower swimmers and very near the end. Missy and Barbie cheered me on, encouraged me, and let me rest a few times as I needed to. When I got off track I heard her voice directing me in the right direction.
What I did not know until later in the day was that Evan and his wife were in a kayak that also remained near me during part of the race. I looked up and saw the kayak but I cannot see well without my glasses so I did not recognize Evan at the time.
I have already posted the photos that David captured as I was swimming towards the shore. I truly appreciate having those moments recorded.
All of these people are the kind that make triathlon a unique sport in my opinion. I am not the fastest, not the best, not anywhere near either one, but I still count and am watched out for as I compete and try to do the best that I can in that moment on that day.
This is what makes the sport special to me and one reason I keep on. I try to be as encouraging and supportive to others as these people and many others have been to me.
There are other stories that I could share. There were many meaningful moments over this weekend and conversations that remain with me. Some of what touches us and inspires us needs to remain close to our own hearts, however.
I will treasure many moments from Luray and look forward to returning next year.
I think this is my final post from Luray. I may post a few more photos but I think I have covered most of what I wanted to say. Thanks for reading.