Thursday, August 13, 2009


I arrived the morning of the race alone, needing to set up everything before commencement. My family would shortly follow. Trying to mask the anxiety in my voice, I asked a fellow racer (a real tri-athlete), "Um, we don't have to swim to both of those buoys out there, do we? Just to one and back...right?"

"Yes, we do." She pointed and traced a square pattern as I stared at each flex of her arm's pure muscle tone, showcasing biceps and triceps animated from the slightest movement of her fingers as she explained, "First you swim out to that one, then over to the other one, then back to the beach."

With a false hint of assurance I replied upbeatly, "Oh, right. Ok! Thanks."

Ugg. Oh no. The pit in my stomach grew larger, swallowing the remnants of the dry Powerbar I choked down for breakfast. That's a lot further than I thought. So much deep water. Oh boy, keep breathing steadily. It's not going to help if I am panting before the race begins.

I hate deep water. It's the part of this sprint triathlon I was dreading the most. Peering through my goggles into a murky abyss, afraid of the currents and the weird lake creatures beneath me. The fact that it was in Pyramid Lake only made conditions worse: a lake rumored to be haunted by Indian ghosts, ones who are probably still angry and in search of revenge for the invasion of their land. Going into the race, I knew this would be the biggest feat: if I could face this fear of swimming distances in deep water and not DIE.

Motherhood has softened the competitive edge in me almost as much it has softened my rear end. Do I still have what it takes? Instead of looking confidently at my so-called opponents, I stood in fearful admiration of their obvious physical agility and super neato triathlon speedo attire. My one-piece black halter swimsuit with ruching was a dead giveaway of my amateur status. I watched each athlete systematically place their towels and bike shoes carefully next to their bikes, maximising speed and efficiency. I sheepishly tied my grocery bag stuffed with running shoes around the handlebars of my bike rental, hoping nobody would notice the obvious beach towel with large floral print hanging over the back wheel. At that moment I desperately wished for a friend to run the race with, someone who could share a laugh with me over what a joke it was that we entered to begin with.

The whistle was blown and we were all called to line up along the beach. What am I doing? I looked back at my husband and girls, my parents and siblings. Everyone cheered in excitement and at the sound of the second whistle every swimmer pummeled into the water like fish clamouring for the absence of air. My heart was already pounding as I pulled my goggles over my head, took a deep breath, and dove into the water.

I swam with the same approach I realize I unwittingly apply to my entire life and all connected pursuits: less than adequate preparation coupled with confidence that slightly outweighs my fear. My strokes were uneven, I came up occasionally choking for breath, but it is was enough to swim, and keep swimming. The only other option is to drown.

As I pulled myself from the water at the conclusion of the swim and the beginning of the bike/run, I knew I was pathetically lagging behind the front of the race, but it all seemed downhill from there. I did it. I can do this!

I am a mother. I am soft. I've lost some will to compete. A hopeless amateur.

But... I can still cross a finish line. Yeah, that's right, #519 crosses the finish line.

And it feels good.

(Mom, my biggest cheerleader. Always.)

*Disclaimer: that is a shadow, not armpit hair, that you are seeing under my arm.


Lacy said...

I loved this, I laughed so hard, you are so cute..

By the way..So happy for Dan :)

Daron and Jamee said...

Congratulations Rae!

I actually talked to Sara about this already, so I haven't talked to you yet. The day of after the race I was wondering about how you did and all,she said you did great but your legs your sore.

YEAH!! You did it!!


The Orchard Life said...

Nice work Rachel!

Jonny & Whitney said...

That is soooo awesome! Your amazing! Maybe someday I'll try that.

Ciara said...

YAY! I'm so proud of you! That is AWESOME! GO RAE GO!!!

Ciara said...

YAY! I'm so proud of you! That is AWESOME! GO RAE GO!!!

Alexandra said...

Okay... as much as I HATE running, I am DETERMINED to be in a triathlon next summer!

Awesome Job! I love your commentary too!


Amy said...

Congrats Rae! We're so proud of you.

Amy & Chad

Alexis said...

O.K...did you say "Mom my BIGGEST cheerleader"? Is my butt really that big?
Watch out Pyramid here I come next year in hopes of banishing the big bootie:)


That's awesome Rachel! And even tho you think you're an amateur, the real amateurs are the ones who don't even try--like me! GOOD JOB!

Joan said...

You look SO cute in that last just look pleased with yourself. I love it. You are awesome! I had no idea you were training for a triathlon! How amazing is that?! WELL DONE, RAE!