Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I have to warn you - this blog post isn't really about animals. It's about my other passion - triathlons. But now that I think about it, doing one really gives me the energy to do the other.

This past weekend, I raced a super sprint triathlon in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was actually pretty excited to race the shortest triathlon the same year I was going to do the longest (Ironman Florida). The first time I raced the Ft. Lauderdale tri was in 2002. I didn't fare so well. I was so nervous -- I had stomach problems the entire time. Even ended up in the woods twice before the finish. So embarrassing. After I finally finished, I called my mom back in Michigan. She was so proud of me even if I had sticks stuck underneath my bathing suit. She was celebrating over the phone -- bragging about her daughter. That was the first and only triathlon she would hear about. I lost her months later to lung cancer.

2009 was the year to go back to this pivotal race. I just wanted to gauge how much I had improved in 7 years. I knew it'd be short. I told my husband not to even miss his Saturday ride for my event. I went alone. Boy, I was so much more relaxed this year. No nausea, no nerves. I was a veteran now. Just came to sprint & go home to drink my coffee & eat my Combos.

For those of you who know me, I'm not very technical. I don't wear a watch, don't have a power meter & hate wearing a heart rate monitor (irritates my skin). I go on "perceived exertion." So typical me didn't even wear a watch to this race. I didn't know I took first in my age group until my friend Jim Van Putten Facebooked me later that day! Got to love FaceBook.

I know Ironman is going to be so much more of a beast than this sprint but I'm ready. Even though it took only 50 minutes, this event is very special to me. It was the race that I could celebrate with my mom. This year, I just celebrated with her in a different way -- each step of the way, she was yelling in my ear, "Go Liss!" I'm sure the same words will be heard in my head during the Ironman on November 7th.

My mom's encouraging words didn't just ring loudly in my tri world -- they were always there in my animal rescue work too. She was my biggest supporter in two of the most important facets of my life. She still is. I know. I can hear her.