Last Sunday, I achieved my biggest accomplishment as an athlete. In the GR Triathlon, I had the honor of racing with 9 year old Sara Kieft at my side. Sara lives with both physical and mental disabilities and in order to give her the thrill of racing, her family enrolled her with the Ride of their Lives.
The morning of the race, I knew it would be an unbelievable day. I guess I had no idea what I was really in store for. We had a tough swim, especially once we made the turn and were swimming with the half I/M swimmers. As we came out of the water and walked to transition the crowd was going nuts for us. Literally nuts. Everyone was cheering and taking pictures. It was such an awesome moment and gave me a lot of strength to forget the swim and keep going. The first transition was really smooth. The first 6 miles of the bike were great too until we came across a bloody athlete laying on pavement. I recognized him immediately, it was my boyfriend Ben. He had been cut off by a motorcycle and flipped his bike. His injuries were pretty gnarly, mostly to the face. He was missing a tooth and blood was everywhere. An ambulance was on the way. As much as I wanted to stay with him, I knew that he would be okay. He would never want me to quit and I had to finish this race for Sara. So, we raced on.
I have to admit, my pace wasn’t really on my mind so much anymore. By the time I got to transition, my “pit crew” gave me lots of love and support, so again, it gave me the strength to put Ben’s accident aside and finish the run. The run was hot, but felt great and coming into the finish line was amazing. Sara was all smiles. She even took a little snooze on the run!
Looking back, what an emotional day! Highs and lows. I’m really proud that I held it together and finished strong. I’m proud that I took Sara on an awesome ride. I’m so very proud and amazed that I just accomplished something I would have NEVER imagined possible. Ben is healing well and the GR Tri Race Directors have been awesome. The best part – I’ve made a new little racing friend named Sara.