August 19th was a cool, partly sunny day in Columbia, MD and close to 2,000 women and their guests showed up at 5:15am to get ready to participate in the Iron Girl Triathlon. Our bodies were marked with our race number and our age (yes... no hiding from public scrutiny, or the pressure of possibly seeing those older than us surpassing us in the race!). Team Fight, supporting the Ulman Cancer Fund, hosted a dedication circle where 100 women held hands at sunrise and declared for whom they were racing. I had the privilege of announcing my race in honor of my husband, and my two fellow Iron Girl buddies. I will admit to having tears in my eyes when my husband ceased his "official photographer" duties, and came behind me to put his hand on my shoulder. If you've read my prior postings, you know that a life threatening brain disorder could have easily prevented him from being with me for the race.
The National Anthem was played and then it was time for the swim to commence! Three weeks ago, I totally panicked during a dry run at this same lake so I was "a bit" nervous going into the swim, yet felt that I had prepared as much as I could to be successful. I had my ritual planned which was to "bob in the water" six times (dunk my head and practice breathing) before taking off. As I did that, my goggles leaked and I feverishly adjusted them as my friend swam off to commence her race. I re-centered, bobbed again (no leakage) and took off! Me, and 156 other 50-55 year old women, with the next age group six minutes behind me. To make a long story short, I spent much more time than during the dry run, using the freestyle than backstroke, and managed to complete the swim in 45 minutes, 25 minutes better than previously! I went on to complete the 17.5 mile bike ride and 3.4 mile run, and realized my vision of running straight into the arms of my waiting husband.
Amidst the congratulations from friends, I've also been greeted with: "What's next?" Isn't our culture amazing? Are we always looking forward to the next "thing" or can we be content, for just a few moments, with staying in the present and savoring what is? As I rest my pleasantly tired body, and reflect on the journey, I am so grateful to be part of several communities: the community of "Iron Girls;" the community of Team Fight;" and the community of women who summoned the courage, passion, purpose, discipline, and fortitude to say: "I can do this," and achieved their goal. We put in the time; we endured the pain and discomfort; we asked for help; we embraced the loving support of our friends and family; we admitted to being "beginners" and learned whatever was needed in technique to endure with minimal injury; we set a vision and we achieved it.
Many, including myself, initially looked at other triathletes and said: "Not me.... I could never do that!" How many times in life do we say the same thing and prematurely relinquish our dreams in service to our fears? What are you denying yourself because of self-limiting beliefs? What's the first step you'd have to take to move toward your goal and what's it worth to you? I'd love to hear from you!