Saturday I had the fun of watching my daughter-in-law compete in her first triathlon. For those unfamiliar with the parts of that competition, they include swimming, biking and running … one right after the other. Saturday’s event consisted of a 250 yard swim, 9 mile bike ride and a 2 mile run. Of course there were plenty of hills for the ride and run.
Ashley and my son are living with us at the moment, so over the past few months I’ve seen her push as she trained for this day. After working all day she’d head to the center to swim and bike; or she’d come straight home and ride and run around the neighborhood. And the days she didn’t feel like doing either, she did one anyway.
But you know me, there’s always more to the story. Saturday was a gorgeous day for racing and for inspiration.
This particular event was the Ramblin’ Rose Triathlon~celebrating the empowerment of women. While we were there to support our daughter-in-law, there was no way I couldn’t notice the other 700+ women competing – yes, over 700, ranging in age from 10 years to 75.
There was a group of women wearing their ‘Forty and Fabulous’ T-shirts. The ‘Tri-it’ group all in pink. There were women who obviously do this regularly, as their toned bodies and speed attest.
But there were many others who were not what most of us would consider physically fit. These were the women who inspired me most. Their bodies were soft and rounded instead of muscular and angular. They didn’t have all the ‘right’ swim gear to shave off a few seconds of their time. Their bikes were clunky coasters – one even had a wire basket attached to the handlebars – instead of sleek racers. And I wondered how a few of them would run the last two miles when it looked like walking was an effort.
Yet, they all did it. Their determination, accomplishment and pride were humbling.
The spectators and supporters were just as inspiring. I loved the father and son holding a bright yellow poster. In big, blue block letters was, ‘My Grandma Rocks It. Go Grandma Go’
There was the guy sitting on the curb next to us watching the bikers return, yelling encouragement to every one of them … by name. At first we weren’t sure how he knew all of them, then realized he didn’t. He was reading their names off their bib or their arm and making sure they knew he was seeing each and every one of them. One biker had gotten off her bike and was walking it. He urged her to get back on, ride the few yards to the end. When she did, the whole crowd went crazy for her.
Each competitor was announced by name as she crossed the finish line and christened a triathlete. One mom crossed with her three children, her ‘B Team’ according to their shirts. Women were waiting for each other at the end and some of the hugs I thought would never end. Same with the yelling and celebrating.
The awards ceremony was already underway when the last two women returned. One was 75. The announcer stopped in mid-presentation to welcome them back. “Here are our two final triathletes! Congratulations ladies.”
There were still a few hundred of us present as we cheered them across the line. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one with a tear or two in their eye.
And to Ashley~congrats on your 1:10:05 first time finish