|Janine Papin sporting her first Tri medal!|
My first Triathlon
I have to list a few disclaimers to start with. I am not a swimmer. I do propel myself through the water in ways that are intended more for relaxation than covering distance. I am a very busy person. I did not train like I should have. But with encouragement from Deb, even though I knew I was not prepared, I wanted to take a stab at this Triathlon business. With the little training I did do, I was told that certain people were “in it to win it” and I was certainly not among them. I was planning on making it through and that was about it.
The day of the triathlon, down at the beach, I started observing people and time started slowing down. I was around some of the other “tribe” members when Sara was talking about how people better not be in her way. The only comment I made out loud was that I was so glad that I was nowhere near her as I was with some of the “older athletes”.
As I entered the water and started swimming, I immediately started getting very tired. It was at that point that I realized that the only way I was to make it the half mile was if I just took it slow and relaxed. Whenever I started feeling worn out, I turned on my back, looked at the sky and pushed enough against the water that I was still somewhat going in the right direction. The swim for me was endless as people passed me by, but I just stayed as calm as I could, breathing and relaxing, as I tried desperately to complete the course. At some point in time I was attempting to swim real strokes when someone kicked me hard in the head and, in addition to it hurting, it definitely scared the crap out of me. As I reacted, and choked on water a bit, I picked up my head to see who it was who had plowed into me and low and behold, it was Sara Dowdy.
I totally claim responsibility because if I had not said that I was glad Sara would not be around me, it would not have happened. Speaking those words was an invitation for her to not only be near me but to plow me down. I was beat when I finally made it out of the water, in fact, I did not feel the need to do anything but walk to transition where I took way too much time cleaning my feet and putting on my sneakers.
The things that I took from that day are quite rewarding. I have so much on my plate on a daily basis; I can hardly focus on one thing because of the constant onslaught of things being thrown at me. During the entire time doing the triathlon, I was never so present in the moment as I was throughout. I appreciated the world around me, the nature that surrounded me, the sky, the water, the sand, the trees, my breath, and my body. All stress and anxiety left me and I was at total peace.
It was amazing and I will definitely push myself to do this again and do it better. Afterwards I went out to eat with two of my four grown kids and they were both so proud of me and I was proud of myself. And Christina, one of my daughters wants to do it with me next year. That will be a treat to share.
|Sara and her mom with Sally Edwards at the finish|
The Trinity family lost a teacher, a coach, and a friend to breast cancer in the spring of 2002. Deb asked me if I wanted to do the Danskin triathlon in her memory 2 years later. Sure, why not. I’m always up to a challenge. I always wanted to try a triathlon anyway. So, I started doing Danskin in 2004 for Karyn, and I still do the Danskin triathlon every year for Karyn. She is the reason I started doing them, and I will continue to race Danskin for as long as I can in her memory. At the start of every race, I think of her, and every year when I cross the finish line, I remember what a wonderful and inspirational woman she was.
I did my first Danskin triathlon with a wonderful group of women from Trinity in 2005 when I was pregnant with my son, and I haven’t missed a year since. Our group has grown since then, and I have met so many beautiful, strong, inspiring women along the way. I’ve watched women learn to swim so that they can do the race. I’ve witnessed women challenge themselves to swim, bike, and run farther than they ever thought they could. My sister started doing Danskin with me a few years ago, and then my mom signed up for her first Danskin triathlon last year. The race has become a family tradition. A wonderful family tradition that I hope continues until my daughter and nieces can do the race with us.
I love Danskin. I love that it brings women together to do something they might not do otherwise. I love that it’s on Mother’s Day – a day to celebrate women. I love that I get to spend my Mother’s day with so many amazing women, so many wonderful friends. I love that I get to do a race on Mother’s day with my mom and sister. And I love that my family has been at the finish line cheering all of us in every year.
The race this year was a bit more challenging than past races because of that dreaded Jalarmy, but it was still a race I will look back on fondly. I loved seeing so many members of the Tribe throughout the bike and run courses supporting each other. First I saw Kendall flying out the swim. YOU GO GIRL! I’m so happy that I was able to see my mom, Michelle, Marlene, Georgia, and Rita finish their swims. I had so many cheerleaders (YOU) throughout the bike and run that it encouraged me to keep pushing myself to go faster. First I saw Deb and Anne Marie on the bike, then on the run I saw Anne Marie again, then Dawn, Deb, Donna, Mariann, and Trish.
I don’t know what happened, but I felt like I was running on air and I can only conclude that it was from all of the encouragement I was getting from the other women in the race. I loved hearing Marlene, Georgia, Rita, my mom, and everyone else in all of our families cheering for me as I finished the run. I think Marlene was definitely the loudest. Then as I made the final turn into the finish chute I saw Nikki and Rachel and couldn’t resist a high five. Once I finished, I told my children that we needed to go be cheerleaders. My children had so much fun cheering you to the finish. They made it a competition to see how many high five’s they could get. I think Mason won in the end.
I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day. What a wonderful experience! So this year’s race has come to a close, but I am already looking forward to next year. I will be there again, on the starting line, grateful that I am able to do the race, thinking of Karyn, and I will cross the finish line remembering her and all of the other amazing and inspiring women I have met along the way.