Sunday, August 24, 2008


Inspiration. I am not sure if this year could give more of it. Ok, the economy isn’t inspirational, neither is the weather…but I witnessed the one sunny day of recent days at Tri for a Cure on Saturday August 9th and the word, inspiration, was definitely the word of the day. For 12 weeks I have been coaching 30 women, 24 first time or novice triathletes, and 6 intermediate level (in experience only!) athletes.

And as I write this I am watching the 2008 Olympics - athlete perfection, pandas fighting extinction, and world records being broken by Michael Phelps. But, as I reflect on the last 4 months of my life, I realize I have been emotionally pummeled by 30 women who don’t necessarily consider themselves athletes, yet have accomplished something they never thought possible, completing their first triathlon, and/or placing in their age group! And even more incredible than that - participating in an event to honor themselves or loved ones, and raising money to help fight cancer.

We started our relationship sometime in April. One month later the core group formed. We met at the pool, at lectures, later at the lake, the ocean, the race course and finally the race itself.

If I could tell you how many emails I’ve received and answered, WOW! Luckily I’m my own boss or I might have been fired from my day job! I just have to share some of the first of the session: “Thank you Chess, Rob and Larissa, before today’s swim assessment I was thinking of dropping out of the race. I didn’t think I could do it. Your support and encouragement has made me believe that I can do it.” “Dear Chess, I can’t even walk a mile, do you think I can run 3 miles?” “Dear Chess, I did the workout you gave us today and it hurt, hurt, hurt. I hate running! Will it get better?” “Dear Chess, I just want to tell you that a fellow Tri-Chix pushed me today to run the entire Boulevard without walking, and I did it! She’s wonderful and made me do something I never thought I could do!” Dear Chess, I tried on a wetsuit today, how painful! But, I bought my first wetsuit and I love it!” “Dear Chess, I’ve lost 20 lbs and I’m ready for more! Last year I never thought I’d do this.” Dear Chess, I did the swim workout, and you’re right, I’m a swimmer!” Now, remember that during the day I receive these emails! I read them at the office and am totally emotional! I want to share the wonderful things that are happening with my office team as they are good friends of mine, but I can’t even read them out loud without tears in my eyes and a waiver in my voice.

So, the Tri-Chix group has worked hard, trained hard and concentrated on getting to race day. Some have friends, family and loved ones lost to cancer, some are cancer survivors, some just want to support this amazing event.

Race day dawns bright and clear. Tri-Chix are ready, they are early to race check-in and transition set up. Smiles and cheers abound! The race venue is gorgeous; set at Bug Light and Spring Point the area fills with women and volunteers. The energy rises with the sun. The pre-race ceremony includes honoring the survivors that are racing and the event itself, Maine’s first all women’s triathlon supporting cancer funding for the state of Maine. Some women wear t-shirts honoring loved ones, banners of loved ones, and badges of survivorship.

The women, one by one walk over the chip mat to the beach. The Bug Light jetty creates the edge for the swim course. Rhythm takes the athletes to the ocean’s edge and as each group enters the water, the race is on! As I watch my ‘girls’ I am so moved, proud and taken by their accomplishments. Time stands still as I watch the multicolored caps move through the water and I realize I need to get on the bike course!

I find myself at the best corner, runners heading to the finish, and riders heading to T-2. In my excitement at photographing my athletes I realize they are now waving to me as they pass! Yikes, I don’t want anyone to crash as they see me! The day ends with the ultimate high, a run down the finish shoot and hugs from everyone, a bouquet of flowers, or even a tiara if you place in your age group! I love a race where the top finishers get tiaras!

In the aftermath I receive one of the best messages and my reply garners even more. We have given to each other and in that have given to the universe. This is inspiration.

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