I crossed the finish line 343 days after my bicycle crash that left me paraplegic at the moment. It was also a week before my birthday, a fact I hadn’t really thought about until after the race.
I’m not even sure how to explain how it felt. Honestly, it there were a lot of mixed emotions.
A year ago today I was having an amazing year. My birthday lasted nearly a week with a picnic, 55-mile Velo Vino ride, a Calistoga spa, an airstream trailer, Jack Daniels smoked tri-tip, a ton of great friends, and of course, lil Pink. Then about 2 weeks later, everything changed. I made a goal to compete in the Santa Cruz 70.3 Ironman this year and get back on the horse.
I expected to be walking by then.
And I’m not.
And it is a bummer. I’m not one to go down the rat hole, especially in public, because I know what’s down that hole. A lot of grief and misery. I certainly don’t bottle it, nor condone bottling it up. Instead finding constructive ways to release that energy. For me sometimes that’s a conversation with a close friend and sometimes looks like getting out on my handbike. Having that freedom again to see the scenery with the wind in my face is fantastic therapy.
So there’s that.
Then there’s all the little things that made this mission tough. My handbike and racing chair arrived a week before the race. That crazy racing wheelchair you saw me cross the finish line on – it was my 4th time on that thing. My bike chain was too long, limiting my ability to go faster.
I hate being a rookie again.
Last year I had been training for most of the year with Golden Gate Triathlon Club & Trimore Fitness and had come a long way. I was ready to rock a 1.2 mile swim, 52 mile bike ride, & 13.2 mile half-marathon with confidence. Now I’m a rookie again. Learning how to swim differently, learning how to race a handbike, and learning how to run again except on wheels. I feel unsure, unstable. I feel like every part is a struggle again. I hate being a rookie again.
And all of you are going to say, ‘Take it easy on yourself, buddy. You crossed the finish line. That was the goal….’
And all of you are right.
What I know is this determination I have is a double-edged sword. It can drive one to accomplish big things. It can also drive one into a hole of ‘never enough.’ Honestly, that’s where I’ve been hanging out mentally the past week or so. I already know what you’re going to say. It’s completely true:
I raised a shit-ton of money and support – more than I asked for.
I crossed that finish line, just like I said I would.
I overcame huge obstacles to do it, like being stuck in a wheelchair.
I actually did 2 legs of a triathlon 2 weeks prior at the Oakland Tri.
I made a statement.
I turned this tragedy into something positive.
I met some great people along the way.
I’ve inspired my friends, family, community, tribe.
I’ve inspired a bunch of people I don’t even know in ways I don’t even know.
There’s a lot of lessons to unpack in all this. I think they’ll come out as individual posts.
What I know is this: It didn’t look pretty, it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to happen. But my eyes were on the prize = crossing the finish line. Couldn’t get your stroke rhythm in the swim? Just fucking get back to shore. Bike shifting is off? Fuck it. Keep stroking, you’re riding the beautiful California coast, dude, with a lot of other amazing athletes busting ass too. 4th time on this handcycle on a 9% grade hill? 5 strokes & 3-feet at a time. Just keep going. Cuss and grit your teeth all you want. Just cross the finish line.
No one asks your time, they just know you completed a triathlon.
Kinda like no one asks your college GPA, they just know you graduated.
Not many people can say that. Not many believe they can. But I know a secret. Anyone can. Anyone can if they just keeping going and keep their eyes on the prize. That applies to everything in life, btw.
** Next race is Sat, Sept 18 @ The Nautica Malibu Triathlon in SoCal. If you’re around, I’d love to see you out there! Details about getting there and parking are on their website. We start somewhere around 7am and I finish somewhere around 9am **