Several factors made this an unusually satisfying completion. First, I am not a swimmer. A total beginner. Never had a lesson in my life until Spence Smith took me to the pool this past Thursday.
Second, just past the 3 Mile marker on the bike, my rear tire blew out. No one had asked that particular question yesterday at our pre-race meeting, so I did not know what to do. I stood to the side of the road for four or five minutes thinking a repair truck would somehow materialize and I had no tire repair kit - I know, I know - my first triathlon, okay?
After finally realizing no one was coming to magically repair my tire and thinking it was illegal to advance the bike without being on it, I finally mounted up and resolutely began to ride on the flat tire. Miraculously, the tire did not come off and I was able to gut out the remaining five and a half - now very loooonnnngg miles - and finish the bike portion with only one near crash on a turn. Quit really isn't a word I choose to use often. On the other hand, finish is a word I cherish.
By far, the most important factor was participating with three of my closest friends in the world. Jeremy Theissen has been in our Tuesday morning artist mentoring group for almost nine years. He had a STELLAR first triathlon at 54 minutes. Wow! He is a gifted athlete. Spence Smith is my partner in crime for LifeWork 2.0, a part of our artist mentoring group and is training for his first Ironman triathlon in August. He turned in a 57 minute time which earned him a second place award in his age group. Ken Davis has become one of my closest friends in the world. He also had a STELLAR first marathon and won a third place award in his age group.
It was so fun to register together yesterday, laugh, joke and kid each other - and share the competitive moments together today. I could not have been more proud to have these three tremendous men competing with me.
I always take a few moments when I run a marathon or climb a 14er or complete a sports event to thank God for the health to complete yet another event. I realize that many people would give anything to have this opportunity - and today - I also realize that there would have been other men and women participating, but instead gave their life for our country's freedom.
I'm very thankful.