This is a blog for the strong, the determined, the wild. In the past ten years more than 100 have joined the triBE on a journey to BE strong, to BE fierce, to BE triathletes. We are dedicated to the belief that anyone can BE a triathlete and support each other in every endeavor. Our team members are all sizes, speeds, and ages. This is our story.

"When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more." ~Florence Griffith Joyner

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reflections: Marlene and Kendall Gasner

Marlene and Kendall Gasner

A new chapter begins…
In Fall 2011, I asked my daughter, Kendall, if she had ever considered doing Danskin.  Kendall looked at me with a blank stare and said “I hadn’t really thought about it!” I responded, “no worries, think about it….sign ups are not for a while and let’s see how things go.”  Sign-ups came for Danskin and we realized that it was not at Ft. Wildnerness, but rather in Clermont. I hesitated, personally, just because of the hills, and it was not quite what I had envisioned.  I had done the last 3 Danskins at Ft. Wilderness and had enjoyed staying in the cabins with my family for the weekend of Mother’s Day, in the past.  None the less, when Kendall said “sure, sign me up”, I thought “here we go….I’ve actually got a training partner!”
Kendall found it difficult to train for anything much other than the swimming component.  Schoolwork, swim practice and swim meets pretty much consume her world.  She and I were able to go on a handful of rides together to practice riding on her new bike, shifting gears and getting used to passing people on the trail.  We laughed, told stories, and bonded as we geared up for the race on Mother’s Day.  I taught Kendall how to set up her transition towel the night before the race, and she said to me “I’m excited about tomorrow, but if anyone tries to hold on to me in the water during the swim, I’m going to kick and punch them off!”  My advice to her was go out in front, sprint the first bit, get away from the pack and keep going….
On race morning, I watched as my daughter stood in front of the pack smiling and not showing any signs of fear.  Inside, I was a mess….I was praying that God would put a bubble of safety around her as she went on this Tri journey alone, without me…. I had cut the umbilical cord and my little girl was about ready to race women of all ages in an environment she had not been in before---again, without me.  I was in the very next wave and needed to now gather myself for my own race…it was my turn… Kendall had started her journey and now I took a deep breath and said to myself, ”she is strong, she is smart, and she will be good to go….time for me to get my own TRI ON!!!!”
I battled my way through the swim, and as I came out, I could hear people telling me, "Kendall was first out of the water…she is crushing it…”   I was relieved and found myself praying again for her on the bike journey…. I rode as fast as I could in hopes to see if I could catch a glimpse of my girl…..Kendall had told me the day before, “I hope you don’t catch up to me during the race because it will make me feel weak.” I laughed and said….”then race as if I’m right behind you!!” I never caught up to Kendall but as I was nearing the end of my bike route, I could see the running trail down below….and there I saw her…my daughter, my girl, my strong warrior all alone on her run…… I screamed, “GO KENDALL!!!! You’ve got this!”  Kendall gave me a fist pump and a smile…that motivated me to cycle even faster and I found myself telling the cyclist in front of me….”That’s my daughter!!! This is such a blessing to be doing this event with my daughter!!!!! This is a great day and the best Mother’s day gift, ever!!!!”
Later, on the run, I was able to high-5 Kendall as she was running her way back to the finish, and I was still making my way out.  We exchanged huge smiles, and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I am so proud of you!!!!”
I had no idea how well Kendall had done until the end of my race, and even so, it wasn’t what was important… What mattered was that Kendall had such feelings of accomplishment, strength, pride and happiness.  What mattered was that my daughter chose to spend her morning with me, on Mother’s Day doing what I love to do…What mattered is that Kendall now knows she has no limitations…what mattered is that Kendall believes in herself….what mattered is that I had the best Mother’s Day gift ever, and what mattered is that we had started a new chapter….a new tradition.  I pray that I have the health and strength to continue doing this until all of my girls are old enough to do it with me too….Kaitlin and Mackenzie will be the next chapters…… 
I do this race every year in memory of my Mom who died from breast cancer.  My mom did not know how to swim or ride a bike. I doubt my Mom ever went for a run. I do this for the women who will never be able to do this themselves due to their own physical limitations.  Every year I encourage at least one new person to do it.  We are amazing beings, and what better way to celebrate life than to just TRI !!

**Deb's comment:  Kendall, just 14, won the 19 and under division of the Super Sprint!  Congratulations to Kendall and Marlene on a spectacular day!

1 comment:

  1. Marlene--what a great story! When Deb asked me to do my first Danskin tri, my son wanted to do it with me. So my first tri was actually the Wildman at Moss Park with my son. Out of the 7 that I've done, it is still the most meaningful for me. It took everything I had not to go in the water and carry him through the race, but to share that experience with him was something I'll treasure forever. Congratulations to both of you.

    Christine Haskins