Participation. That was the aim of my 2015 triathlon season. To participate in local races and to lend support to the growing paratriathlon movement through my participation in smaller grass roots events.
Back in April I kicked off my season with the Egg Hunt in Florida. It was early in the season, but I managed to better all of my previous Egg Hunt results. By no stretch of the imagination did I break land speed records – that is just not what doing triathlon with CMT is about for me – but I did better my previous times and I reignited an enthusiasm for racing that I had lacked in the bleak winter months.
In May I raced at the Crystal Palace triathlon, in the London League “points for paras” category. I got myself up that hill 11 times, and in the process my grassroots local participation gained a point for my triathlon club.
I was optimistic about the season. And although I was struck with illness which kept me away from the Arctic One Paratriathlon at the end of June, I was determined to keep finding avenues to one of the athletes driving demand for paratriathlon. I signed up for the English National Paratriathlon race at Mallory Park circuit in July.
And then my dad died.
Dad died on a Wednesday night, and England nationals were that Saturday morning. And when I woke up on race day, I decided that I did not want to race – because I did not want to be alone.
It has been hard since July. I have known stress before, and know how it impacts my health. But I did not appreciate just how much the combination of stress and grief would leave me feeling completely spent. Lacking energy. With no motivation.
By the end August I finally started to feel as if I was “coming normal”. I felt as if I was (finally) waking up from one of those endless nightmares – you know the one where you are feeling hunted and stressed and panicked all at once as some monster is chasing you in the dark? I finally felt like some of the clouds were lifting. I slowly started to get back to “normal” routines – like opening my mail. And cooking. And training. I felt as if I was re-entering the land of the living.
In early September I did the Dart 10k. When I got on the train that Sunday, I knew that I was going to Devon to complete, not to compete. And after ten kilometres and more than three hours of swimming, I felt it. That shadow of my self. The old me. The me that felt alive.
This weekend is the ITU Open Paratriathlon World Championships.
When I submitted my name for the start list process way back when, I thought Chicago would be the perfect end to a strong season. But now, after everything that has happened, Saturday means so much more to me.
Saturday is about getting to the start line and racing to feel alive.
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you feel alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~ Howard Thurman