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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reflections: Marie Leticee

Marie Leticee at the finish

Anybody there?
Last year's Danskin tri was my first full triathlon. While I was scared to death to attempt the 800 M swim, I was encouraged by what I had witnessed at Danskin 2010, my first experience with this sport. The event was taking place at Disney and my responsibility was the running leg. Actually, it was more of a walking leg since the day before, I had hurt my lower back. Thoughts of giving up clouded my mind, and I was feeling terrible. I shared my concerns with Deb. (I got no sympathy (of course, there’s no nonsense with the Debmeister!!!)  no sweet talk… just “You better do this woman… can’t give up now… you can walk, can’t you?” I swallowed my pain and showed up the next day.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up!!!! I saw all kinds of women participating in that triathlon: one legged, no arm, small, big, very biiiig, young, old, very old, and very very old. I heard someone say, talking about a 77 year old woman: “she had to learn how to swim to do that.” With these words, my fate was sealed!!!!
Soon, I was taking swimming lessons at UCF, at the Y and anywhere I could. I completed my first triathlon swimming the breaststroke last year for Danskin 2011. When I got tired half way through the course, a swim angel hired by Deb on the spot (Even if she never showed it to me, Deb was really afraid I would drown. LOL.  She’d seen me in the lake. She knew my limits. She knew I couldn’t even float on my back!!!) appeared out of nowhere and asked me if I needed help. She offered her noodle, I grabbed it and she pulled me for a few strokes so I could catch my breath. She was so strong, I couldn’t even keep up with her so I let go and completed the swim on my own. I was on a cloud!!! I was amazed at what I had just done.
However, while I was happy with this accomplishment, I decided I had to learn the freestyle stroke for the next Danskin triathlon. It was a struggle for me. In fact, it took me almost the whole year to achieve this goal, and I have to say that I’m not quite there yet.
Tackling this second triathlon was a roller coaster. And here, I’m only really talking about the swimming portion of the tri because… that IS the triathlon for me. Being able to get my body from point A to point B in any mass of water is quite an ordeal. When I’d think “I got this,” then the next lake crossing would be a failure which would shake my confidence to the core and make me ask for the dreaded and embarrassing noodle!!!!
The last lake crossing with the Tribe was in beautiful Lake Sybellia. It was on a beautiful afternoon. The water was so clear you could see the bottom of the lake for quite a while. The lake was inviting and the water felt good. Despite all that, my body decided to fail me on that day. I was unable to complete the swim, had a small moment of panic and asked for a noodle. I was determined not to let that swim be the last one before the tri so I went with my YMCA teammates to Lucky’s Lake the Saturday before Danskin. A teammate swam next to me and helped me stay on track. It was a great swim. I was happy and I said to myself, “you got this, girl!”
Sunday morning, my stomach was churning. I was nervous but I had to show a good face for my Tribe family. Sarah and Deb had shared a little mandatory lake ritual with me so on that day, I obliged. Before my wave started, I walked into the lake and did as advised ;-). You’d need to ask Deb or Sarah to pass on that ritual to you!
When it was time for my wave, as I was walking with all these beautiful ladies, I spotted a “black” swim angel!!! I did a double take because they are very rare… almost non-existent!!!! LOL So, I approached her and asked her if she would be willing to swim next to me to guide me since I breathe on my right and… the buoys are on the left. She said “oh, sure I can do that”. I thanked her and started swimming. After a few strokes, she had disappeared!!!! No black angel to be seen!!! That did not feel good. I lost a little bit of my confidence and tried to find my way back on track.
Soon after that, I felt like I was swimming in a thick cloud. I couldn’t see in front of me, I couldn’t see anybody!!! I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I started swimming breaststroke. The cloud got thicker and thicker. The water turned a grayish color. I felt trapped. I got on my back to clean my goggles. I had practiced getting on my back in the pool for that very reason. I had seen Deb do it in the ocean (really, if Jesus could walk on water, Deb can sit on water. I had seen it with my own eyes). Well, that didn’t last long. I started sinking and drinking water.  Soon, I was kicking people left and right. I guess I was in the right track after all…
I have to say that I really panicked at that moment. There I was, in the middle of the course, unable to see in front of me, not knowing what was left or right. I couldn’t even see the freaking buoy!!! And yes, that swim angel was still nowhere to be found!!!! I yelled: Anybody there? As soon as I said that, a male voice responded right away, in a suave and sexy voice. (Any man’s voice at that time would be suave and sexy to me in the midst of all that floating estrogen and progesterone.) "Do you need help? he said.
A boat appeared out of nowhere in the cloud. I hung onto it with one arm and yanked my goggles with my free hand so I could spit in them to clear them out. I never spit in front of people and I do not like to see people spit in front of me. But I didn’t care at that point. No need to be sexy or proper here. BTW … Still no black swim angel!
I kept going in my own crooked way and finished the swim in a better time than last year. I was happy. Swim Angel or no swim angel, I had completed my second Danskin triathlon (third full sprint triathlon), swimming freestyle, crooked, but still freestyle. That was my goal.  That was what I had set out to do. And I had done it! I was ready to conquer my next challenge on that day, the hill on Jalarmy!
Swim angel or not!!! Next year, I’m butterflying the whole d@#$ thing!!!!

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