Run, Bike, Walk, Carry, What?
I had just finished the bike event of a Duathlon with a flat tire, which I continued riding on for several miles, until the inner tube in the back tire got caught in the axle and the wheel locked up completely.
So I did the next best thing, with an unridable bike in the middle of a Duathlon;
I walked with it.
I felt bad.
I didn’t even know it had an axle.
Surely, someone would be by to get us; a nice volunteer with a van?
And Don’t Call Me Shirley
I had seen one volunteer on the bike course with a notepad of some sort; sketching maybe?
I wasn’t paying close attention, but she was there; I rang my bike bell at her when she passed – which might explain the six minute penalty I got at the end, but it was a beautiful day to be doing just about anything outside.
So what if I had to walk into the wind next to my flat-tired bicycle for several miles.
Even forgetting to take off my bike helmet for the last running event was fun, mostly because my helmet’s designed to look like a scary shark face and fin.
What’s not fun, even in a cool, scary shark helmet, is running along side your bike.
That’s what I did for however many miles I had left to finish the bike course, after a policeman, who could see me walking it in the distance called for an event vehicle to pick me up.
But I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t wait for it to arrive.
I couldn’t tell my kids that I had almost done my best and they would ask, because sooner or later, kids always quote their mothers.
“Did You Do Your Best?”
So I thanked the policeman for his personal water bottle and went to help my heap of scrap metal and spokes up off the ground.
“When the rescue vehicle gets here,” I said, “tell them I challenged them to beating me to the bike transition.”
“Nah, Nah. I’ll show them,” I smiled, carrying my bike away as if it were a feather; “Fuckers,” I laughed, half-crying, half-running with a bike in my arms.
Now I had to finish.
“Sorry, Bike, I’m trying to look dignified here, but sometimes I need to redirect my frustration, so act aluminum.”
Then, like a dog with no hind legs who’s hooked up to a wagon in order to walk, I was off, alternating my bike from one side of my body to the torture.
Surrendering One Step At A Time
Running into the transition area, I dropped my broken bike, forgot to remove my helmet, and took off running to the last event course.
There were still runners on it;
Three of them!
“Im not alone, or dead last – yet,” I thought.
So I made a deal with myself.
“Catch one runner at a time; then quit.”
Before I knew it, I caught two and was facing the back of the third.
Aside from sporadic patches of wild flowers and crooked tree branches that boughed gracefully over our heads, the only thing separating us was a Momma duck and her ducklings waddling across our path.
They were headed for the Fox River, probably unaware of how it got its name, but it gave me a good reason to stop momentarily and feel perversely happy about fate.
I let them cross and watched, as they plummeted into the water.
I envied them bouncing onto the top of it, gliding contently downstream with the current.
If only I could glide contently on the backs of ducks; bouncing and gliding and going with the flow to the end of wherever life’s currents lead me.
It felt like a good time to give up.
Or drown myself in the Fox River.
Fox Hole Prayers
So I started praying.
Immersing myself into the pain; I prayed.
I prayed to let go and surrender to something greater than myself.
To rise up and over and above the physical pain and mental anguish.
I prayed for the strength to embrace it, and endure.
For faith and healing, and for other people who suffer more than me everyday.
And I was reminded of the greatest thing of all:
God Comes To Me Through Other People.
The third runner turned his head unexpectedly, and gazed back at me.
He smiled and uttered something inaudible.
I love you?
I’ll sweep you off your feet and carry you to the finish line?
It’s frustrating when you can’t hear.
Even more so, when beads of sweat are dripping down your forward and into your eyes so you can’t see.
So I prayed that he would slow down.
And I prayed for clarity.
Because I couldn’t read his leg.
That’s what my life came down to on this beautiful day.
Like cattle, we had been marked by age on the back of our leg with a permanent, black Sharpie.
“Ive got your number,” I muttered; pushing forward, trying to see it:
“That can’t be right,” I thought.
But it was.
Kerby, who showed up in this race when I needed someone the most, was eighty-two.
This was his two-hundred and seventy-sixth Triathlon.
Mind Over Matter
“I’ve been waiting for you,” he said.
“I’ve been waiting for you too,” I smiled.
“You can do this,” he said.
I synced into rhythm and found my pace in his.
“Okay.” I committed, watching ducks glide past me – up stream!
I imagined feasting on foie gras for dinner.
Eyes On The Prize
I saw my kids at the finish line as I crossed and when I looked into their eyes, I knew I had done my best.
That my best was good enough.
I don’t do these ridiculous endur-a-thons to beat anyone, although – I did place third in my age division last year, but if you do them long enough, you’re bound to place, just like Kerby did.
He got first in his age division!
I, on the other hand, did not get first in mine.
I was dead last over all, after a six minute penalty for drafting on my bike, which seems ironic, given that Shirley was drafting on her notepad in the middle of the bike event.
I should have been given a handicap, but dead last today feels like a personal best.
I do these endur-a-thons to challenge myself.
In the same way that praying and meditating keep me spiritually conditioned throughout the year, they keep me physically conditioned.
Reminding me that small goals and small victories and fighting through to the finish line, is what matters.
Life Isn’t A Sprint.
It’s a marathon.
Hopefully, my kids will understand that someday.
When mind over matter is breaking their spirit.
When what matters, will require their best thinking.
I want them to know that their best will always be good enough, even if they’re dead last.
There will always be someone faster and stronger and slower and weaker, but it doesn’t make them any better or any worse.
It makes them different.
It makes me different.
Which is always a matter for the heart.
It will meet you wherever you are.
And so will other people.
When you least expect it.
When you need it the most.
And you’re about to give up.
Someone will be there to help you through because we all want the same thing in the end.
We All Want To Know We Matter.
And sometimes putting your heart into it is the only thing you can do.
The only thing left to do.
So here’s to putting your heart into whatever it is that’s holding you back from life; from living.
From knowing that you’re not alone.
From knowing that you matter.
You should know.
It’s beautiful day – for just about everything.
Until next next time,
Photo Credit: Humor Me With Mo
replying to test
I love your stamina and persistence, Mo!
I don’t why, but as I read this, I thought about your great-grandparents when they walked the new National Road in the early 1800s to a new and better life in Washington Courthouse, Ohio, and wondered about all the obstacles they must have encountered along the way.
You are a great inspiration to your kids and to me!
A wonderful effort Mo. Congrats!
Don’t understand why drafting isn’t allowed. I believe it is a standard tactic in pro-biking.
It occurs to me there are two ways to prevent a competitor enjoying the drafting advantage. First, pull away at a faster pace. Two, allow the drafter to pass then tuck in behind her/him and enjoy the draft.
Loved the ducks. Nature can teach us so much not the least of which is wisdom.
Thanks, GT! I agree. I kept thinking that the wind would be at my advantage at every next turn, to no avail. That seems to be the way it is whenever I ride – always into the wind. I think I will walk now, mostly. 🙂
I love this story. It’s perfect Mo! You paint a great picture.
Thanks, Mom! Was happy to see Andy, boys and Nate and crew at end! A happy relief. Dawn did awesome – third in her age division! 🙂
Mo, I could actually picture you on this journey and feel all those emotions you mentioned! Most of us do have a tendency to discount any impact we have in this world, through our daily lives. Thanks for the reminder that, no matter what we’re pursuing, any effort at all matters!! Hugs!!
HA! Thanks, Gay. You’re right. Until you said that, I didn’t think about my efforts making a difference to anyone else, but maybe it did. Thanks for sharing. It helps!!! 🙂
Great job, Mo!! You’re such an inspiration and a great example to your kids. I love the line, “Life isn’t a Sprint. It’s a marathon.” That’s soooo true!
Thanks, Scott! I appreciate that! I wish it was a sprint, but boy have I learned that the hard way. HAAAAA 🙂
Yes, that was my favorite line, too! So good to remember to pace yourself accordingly:-)
If we could all be a Kerby to someone each day, what a wonderful world it would be.
Gonna try a bit harder. Thanks for the inspiration.
Right? He was amazing. He told me he was a competitive weight-lifting champion too, so it did occur to me to ask him for a lift to the finish line. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Reminds me of my relay triathlon along the lake shore in Chicago. I was just doing the biking part, and when I tried to do a sharp u-turn to pass some other bikers and to start the second half of my race, I turned too sharply, my wheels slipped, and I hit the pavement with my head! If I hadn’t been wearing a helmet, I would have had a serious concussion. One of my gears broke, so I finished the race without the ability to shift gears – but I finished because my running partner was waiting, and I wasn’t going to disappoint him. ( Incidentally, my brother, Dave, did the swim part of that triathlon. ) Thanks for sharing your story of persistence.
WOW, Bud. What a great story – not the part about your head, but the rest of it! I’d love to hear more about it! And I loved hearing about Dave doing the swim part. Andy said he was quite the swimmer!
Good old Kirby! Seeing you smiling through all your troubles made our day! Love you! Here to keeping on!
Wow, Mo. You didn’t just teach your kids a lesson here, you taught one to all the rest of us, too! Way to go. Xoxo, Barb
Aww, thanks, Barb. That’s so nice of you to say. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with me!!! 🙂