Race with a Purpose: World Bicycle Relief

Since I returned from Africa and even before then, I have been searching for a non-profit with a mission that I could support.  All the days, hours and dollars put into triathlon training feels futile and selfish unless it’s coupled with a greater mission besides me.  To even consider an IM or IM 70.3 requires an personal tendency towards selfishness, sacrifice, insanity, and inner searching.  At least that’s my truth and that of many of the athletes about whom I’ve read.

power of the mindMaybe it reminds me of being an adolescent athlete OR how I fantasized about racing the Kona IM every October while watching it on tv OR that I want to see how far my mind & body will take me OR that I want to free myself of failures and faults by filling every mile with prayers for reconciliation, healing and redemption.  Maybe it’s all of this and none of this.

Or maybe I do it because I have the ability and the opportunity and encouragement to do it….and I want to return that favor with a gift.  The gift of a bicycle through their “work for a ride” type program (i.e. Trees-for-Bikes or Mobility = Education).  Not a hand-out but a hand-up.  Kids and adults must give back and earn their bike which ensure that they create a self-sustaining community and life.

Trees for Bikes

Help me build opportunities by building bikes with World Bicycle Relief via the Ironman Foundation.

Remember: 1 bike = $134

Sponsor 1 bike and tell a friend to sponsor the next one.  If cycling or triathlon has changed your life, help it change it someone else’s too.

Let’s build a fleet of bikes so everyone can get to school, work and home, through safe, reliable transportation.  Check out their programs supporting education, health care, social enterprise, micro-finance, environment, field mechanic trainings, and disaster relief.

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Training for an Ironman…sorta

IM yoga tattoo
Well, actually a 70.3 or Half-Ironman, but “half” sounds so second rate. Some half-marathoners are pushing for a rename to “Pikermi” which is name of the city in Greece that is in the middle of the original route Pheidippides took from Marathon to Athens (which was less than 26.2 miles by the way), but what would you rename a Half-Ironman?

Anyways, I digress. I have been lusting over Ironman triathlons since I was a kid, watching the Kona World Championships every October around my birthday (or December when it viewed). I researched the IronKids races that were highlighted on some kid’s bread packaging to no avail because my mother was already overwhelmed with hauling us from softball to tennis to gymnastics to golf to …. the list goes on. Plus I didn’t think I had a great place to ride my cheap bike (although I lived in the woods and had miles of trails!) and my swimming was average (goggles and a swim cap might have helped). Still I dreamed of the guts and glory, ever the athlete seeking bigger challenges.

Fast forward twenty years to a physically broken 28 yr old under chiropractic care three times a week still yearning to regain her younger years and athletic feats. So as my 29th birthday and the 29th Ironman World Championships in Kona approached, my doctor encouraged more swimming and okayed my desire to start cycling with my partner. Easy cycling, no aero, no hills, short distance. You can guess how that went down – 2 weeks later and a 25 mile race later 🙂 Been hooked since! But that wasn’t what re-invigorated the Ironman itch. One day while swimming endless laps of front crawl, breast and backstroke, I realized how I raced everyone swimming in adjacent lanes. I missed competing and challenging myself and was feeling renewed and hopeful with my steady improvements under Dr. H’s care. By the time of the October Ironman, the memories of IronKids and Ironman Kona were flooding back every time I got on my bike or went for a swim. Maybe I could do this, but could I ever run again with my history of ruptured lumbar discs, shin splints, tendonitis, etc.? Would 2012 would be the year? Not only of my 30th birthday but of my athletic reawakening?

LR BB Swim

January 11th was the first run of many to come….and April 28th was the Beach Blast Triathlon in Mexico City Beach, FL, my 1st! Despite my initial swim panic after a mass start in a new wetsuit with an ocean swim, I was able to finish in 1:48:28 placing 5th in my age division. I got to see my partner at various points during the race which bolster my spirits and made my finish sweet…even though I knew no one and no one knew me when I crossed the finish. That has changed since joining Vulcan Triathletes as their new secretary and the Birmingham Track Club. The camaraderie along with the plethora of experienced athletes, doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, yoga teachers, etc. has made my journey and decision to Tri- harder and farther and much more pleasant and safe undertaking. One month before my 30th birthday, I finished my first half-marathon, the Talladega 21000, in under 2:15, with a good friend who has used running to lose almost 100 lbs and heal all his health problems. This stuff transforms your life – mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally!

So it is in that vein that I am committing to the lengthy but doable training for a 70.3 race this year. Definitely Augusta 70.3 because many Vulcan Triathletes and Birmingham locals race it. Plus the swim is downstream in a wetsuit – I can float to the transition if I get panicked! I will race the Beach Blast Triathlon (Olympic distance – 1st tri- at this distance) in late April again as a tune-up/season opener. If it goes well then an earlier 70.3 may be on the horizon.

Note: I do not race just for me though. I race for those who have risen from their own fiery transformations via addiction/abuse/injury/etc., for the orphaned kids I worked with in South Africa, for the SouthTown community in Birmingham, for the church on the corner where “All Are Welcomed,” for my deceased father who never saw my healing and my adulthood, for my unborn niece/nephew, and for my dear grandmother who taught me how to cook and how to love everyone.

…and I race for you in hopes that you might be inspired to reach for the goals and dreams you felt would always JUST BE DREAMS. Time to create some realities.

 

Time to Tri- with Me!

triathlete belly tattoo