“Come on Laura” “Your almost there sweetheart just a little bit further”
These were the fired up words I could hear from the side lines as I made my way, huffing and puffing towards the finish line. “Come on Tweet Tweet,” My honored father roared “I’m so proud you, just a little future”. My quadriceps where screaming and my arms shaking, hair half up in a lopsided pony tail just waiting to be combed. “This was it” I thought to myself, “I’m almost done”.
Let me back up for just a minute before you all find out how this thrilling story ends. Let’s go back 11 months. It was June of 2007 and I had just completed my first ever triathlon.
“Triathlon, YICKS! That sounds scary. 750 meters of swimming followed by 20 km of fast paced cycling and why not finish off with a intense 5 km run”.
Yes the Triathlon; it is not a race that you simply sign up for a do. It requires weeks of training, eating well and sleeping like a baby.
I embarked upon the journey of competing in my first triathlon without any expectations except to merely finish. And finishing is what I did. I completed this race in 1 hour and 26 minutes. Being my first triathlon, I had no idea if this was good or bad.
My mother and I were about to leave the race and head home for a well deserved rest when one of the officials stopped in our path; He had told me I came in second place for my age category and had earned a place in representing team Canada in Vancouver the following year.
“What? Are you sure? This was my first race. Don’t you need to compete for years before you get even a shot at competing in that kind of race?”
Turns out you only have to place first or second in your age category in a qualifying race such as this one in order to win a spot in worlds.
“Cool” I thought at the time. “I’ll go to Vancouver. Why not? “
Little did I know I was going to be competing in a race that was WAY out of my league.
That summer I competed in one more triathlon, kept fit and headed into fall. From September to January I went to the pool occasionally, ran here and there and cycled until the snow fell. In the back of my mind I kept the race but I had not decided to start training till March.
Once March came I began swimming and cycling twice a week and ran three times per week. April and May flue by as the hours of training accumulated. Then June hit and the countdown was on to clock as many last minute running and swimming sessions as possible.
On June 10th 2008 my mother and I flew to the victorious city of Vancouver. There we spent the three days leading up to the race eating copious amounts of carbs while sightseeing and shopping.
Then it came, the morning of the race of a lifetime. In movies this is where the main character would wake up to blue skies and rainbows with the theme of rocky playing in the background. Too bad this was real life. That morning it was 11 degrees Celsius out side, with cloud coverage and a chance of rain. To top things off the race officials announced the ocean water that we would soon plunge into was only 10 degrees above freezing!
“Great, just what I needed to add to my already terrified body, the potential for hypothermia”.
It was 7:00am and my heat was the first to race. I was competing with 19 other females all under the age of 19. Poland, Canada, Germany and the USA where just a few of the countries that these strong young ladies where representing. And here I was … average Laura with an old hybrid bicycle, worn out sneakers and a last year’s model wet suit on.
As we lined up at the starting line I looked to my left and right and yelled out a “good luck everyone!”. The looks I got back signified “you’re going down newbie”.
“Oh shit” I thought, “I am screwed”.
BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPP. There went the buzzer and we all jumped into the nearly ice water. The 750m swim was a distant memory now but at the time it consisted of being kicked, pushed, and shoved while swallowed gallons of sea water and having competitors swimming over and under you constantly.
Somehow I managed to make it to the transition zone alive. Running out of the water I could barely feel my feet, they where numb with potential frost bite. Slinking towards my bike, while ripping off my wet suit I thought to myself “just do it, don’t stop”. And so I didn’t. 20 km of biking came and went. I was now into the final leg of the race, the run. “Almost there”, I told my now aching body.
As I began the 5km stretch of running, I heard an ambulance behind me and noticed ahead that another runner had collapsed. I later found out she had sever hypothermia but would recover. Running past her I thought thank goodness my body is still moving. I may not be the fastest of my age group, heck I was probably one of the slowest at the race but I am here, in the final leg, about to finish one of the hardest mental and physical tasks of my youth. “Come on Laura” “Your almost there sweetheart just a little bit further”. “Smile for the camera”, my mind told me as I ran through the finish line with one last burst of energy.
Into my mother’s arms I fell as my father rapped me in a silver thermal blanket. “You did it sweet heart, you finished the race.”
At that moment I told myself I would never race in another triathlon. However, once my muscles stopped aching and the pride of finishing kicked in, I began to think about the next race I could enter…… only that race would be more in my league….. racing alongside average Joes like me, with old bicycles and worn out sneakers.