Early wake up call after getting no sleep for the past few days. Butterflies all weekend due to the number of events and the fact that if I were successful I would reach the halfway point in terms of races - and thanks to all of you, nearly halfway in terms of my fundraising goal. In a little less than 4 months..... Half way in about a third of the time!! You are all absolutely incredible. Thank you all.
So the day started off well. All packed and prepped after multiple bag checks the night before and readied my typical pre-race breakfast. Oatmeal (lower sugar maple and brown sugar) and an Ensure shake (yes - ensure - a good friend turned me onto them for races - thanks johnny Murdock) and the combination rocks. 300 good well balanced calories from the Ensure shake and 150 calories from the oatmeal. Lots of water the night before and on the way to the event...
6:30 AM All set up in transition and body marked (where they write your race number and age on you) a few tunes on the iPod to get in the mood and right frame of mind...some Skynyrd, some AcDc, some tunes from the Rocky IV soundtrack, some Stones... met Ben - a first time triathlete who was excited and anxious....just like me - despite the number of races done, the whole getting ready thing can be a bit daunting. Chatted with a few folks in transition, caught up with Ruben, Tal, Scott - some other TnT folks out doing the race today. Got to see Abby at chip pick up...Abby is great - always a smile on her face and cheer in her voice - despite dealing with stressed out triathletes...get to finally meet Theoden Janes, blogger for the Charlotte Observer. He and I have been communicating over the past few months - he's looking for a comeback after getting a flat tire at Latta in June - and is pumped!
The venue and weather are perfect. The water - a bit warmer than bathwater...and at 7:02 we hop, well wade in the water. Wave 1 is already out there crossing the swim course...I'm in wave 2 waiting to get going.
Gun goes off at 7:04 and away we go in wave 2. Lake swims are different than pool swims...and I still need practice...and I realize that early on. See the big difference is three fold....
1. the water is murky and doesn't taste so good (neither does pool water - but it is "relatively
2. there are swimmers in front of you, besides you, in back of you competing for the same space versus a pool where you swim in relatively straight lines
3. there are no lane markers - so you need to "sight" or pop your head up out of the water every couple of strokes so you make sure you are on course, versus swimming out to sea...or the wide open lake in this case
I get through the swim and see Abby Miller, John McLean and Sheila - right there as I head out of the swim...and then Todd Spanish - a neighborhood friend who did the same race on Saturday...comment to Todd "I hate swimming" - his response "well you're done - get on with it"..very true....
I jog the 1/10 mile across the pavement to transition and get on the bike. Up on and out easily and on the course. Make the first turn and I know the hills we are about to face in the first 4 miles, so I shift and adjust accordingly. Up and over the hills and a quick turn onto some more level pavement. Pick it up a bit - but not by shifting...the new bike fit is accommodating my "picking it up" without having to crank much harder....thank you Teelo and TrySports - again.
As I make my way over the 13.5 miles of the shortened (due to construction - not me cheating) bike course I continue to pick it up a bit...it's shorter, the run is still only a 5K - so let's see what is left after the 4 other events I've done since Friday night.
Transition to the run smoothly and relatively easily, strap on the Karhu shoes and nice breathable Craft hat - get the race number on and away I go. Up the hill to the run course...as I pass Sheila who is telling me to "go, go, go Sean" I think - what am I doing...and then I remember...I am doing this for so many others who cannot, those who have not been able to, who are battling something more than mere fatigue in their legs. As I crest the hill - I hear "Go Team" again and again...grab some water and I am off...not fast mind you - but I am off.
Make my way across the run course. Mile 1 down, mile 2 down...1.1 to go. Pick it up - and pass a few folks - and get passed myself...but it's not about me - point to point, A to B - several times over today.
As I make the next to last turn to the finish - Todd is there - cheering me on....Todd who woke up with fever and chills the day prior and did the race and got up at 4:30 AM to volunteer today....Abby who also got up - probably at 4:00 AM to volunteer and help check folks in...Lex Erwin - a TnT Alum who raced today and is done...I am inspired...pick it up a bit....head to the last turn...there waiting for me is John McLean - fellow TnT Alum who is doing Florida IM in November who yells at me...."pick it up it's not like you've done anything else this weekend" - while in jest - he is right....compared to those who are battling blood cancers, those who have battled and lost - this is nothing...so I do pick it up to get to the finish line. I get to stop this challenge for the day in about 200 yards....those patients, families have to battle day after day.
While official times are not in yet - Sheila estimated about 1:28, which translates into approximately a 17 minute swim (on par) a 41 minute bike (tracked with my Garmin (I love that thing)) and a 24 minute run (again thanks to the Garmin) - adding a couple minutes for the two transitions...
Not my best times - but not my worst. But that doesn't matter....I have been out there, I have brought attention to the mission, WE have raised almost $16,000 over the course of 4 months.
I have completed, through your support and belief 20 events, half of what I set out to do over 12 months in 4 months time. We have reached the 40% mark - or close to it - in terms of fundraising in 4 months...ONE THIRD OF THE WAY in terms of the 40 in 40 calendar.
I could not have done this much thus far without the support of you, my family, my friends, my colleagues, your friends, the TnT Team, the folks from LLS, my supportive, appreciative and understanding wife Sheila (and our dog Maggie who gets left out of long runs at this point due to the heat and my schedule) and our cat (Dobhen who gets woken up at crazy hours as she sleeps between my feet).
I am inspired, energized revitalized to get to 40 and beyond in terms of races and more importantly $40,000 for the LLS by the time I turn 40 in May.
Next week is an "off week" no races, just training...September holds for right now 3 more events and at least one biggie in October. I could not have made it here without you - I will not make it without your support, kind words and friendship - and good natured ribbing - but I will keep pressing on.
Today's event, the halfway mark is in memory of Bill Janov, or grandpa Bill, as Sheila's nieces and nephew knew him. Bill was my sister-in-law's step father, who a little over two years ago was diagnosed with Leukemia. Sheila and I went to visit him in the hospital while we were out in the Asheville area - for a TnT event (Fletcher Flyer) that she was participating in. In his words "I feel great but my blood work sucks" those 8 words were a testament to the challenge and battle that Leukemia patients suffer and deal with every day. You never know. We can work for a cure, or cures, we can fight the good fight - but we need a stronger, better more capable army to win. Sadly, Bill passed no more than a couple months later...full of life, full of piss and vinegar (as my dad would say - although...not 100% sure what that meant besides fight and determination) and a die hard attitude that he was sure he could beat this.
As I reflect on the events of this weekend, 5 races in 38 hours, a bit tired, but exhilarated, energized and determined (hell bent for leather - if you will) for the next event and fundraising threshold...I can only recall and reflect on the battles so many have endured, hundreds of thousands each year who are diagnosed with blood cancers...some who win, some who lose those battles. So many families, friends, colleagues who have been stricken. All ages, genders, races...it is indiscriminate.
I appreciate your support thus far. I am humbled by your friendship and belief. I strive to do more.
Thank you. Go TEAM!