Saturday, August 11, 2007

Amy says, "It's a Celebration"

Tomorrow is the triathlon. I always feel nervous before this event even though it is my eighth time. The weather is suppose to be in the upper 80's to mid-90's and humid. That makes it tougher for me since I have a problem dissipating heat. The 1 mile swim will be fine, the 26 mile bicycle can be tolerable with the air cooling the skin, but the run......I have decided to take an umbrella and walk the 6 miles if I have to.
I remember three years ago standing on the beach with hundreds of other athletes donning swim caps and goggles preparing for the start. Many were jumping and shaking, trying to stay warm in the 7:30 am coolness and release some nervous tension. I noticed one woman who appeared to be relaxed, with a smile gracing her pretty, 30-something face. It made sense to me that I should hang next to her and catch her vibes, like some kind of athletic strategy. I had seen her at some of the training swims and knew her name was Amy. Wanting to know her secret, I inquired, "Amy, don't you get nervous before these events?" She turned to me with a bigger smile and total confidence. "No," she replied. "This is the day I look forward to. This is a culmination of all the hard training I've done and now I can see what I can do. It's a celebration!"
Those few words have helped me get through some hard training runs and bike rides, but I intentionally pull them to the front of my mind when I'm nervously anticipating the start, when I am hitting the brick in transition from the bike to the run, and especially on the run when I am most tired and wanting to quit. Then I hear Amy coming up behind me on the run. I know it is Amy even before I see her. It is a springy, higher pitched sound I hear, different than the heavy thud of a running shoe. Amy has one leg and a substitute prosthesis for the other. You may find that inspiring, but you really should see her joyful bounce and hear her cheerful reminder when she passes me by, "It's a celebration Cheryl!" That's the pull I need. Thanks, Amy.