The Race that Never Was.
OR...(and my choice)
Wilmington, NC: City of Angels
Now you might be asking yourself, why would I want to write a race report regarding a race that I didn't actually do? For that matter, what in the world would I possibly have to write about?
Well, let me tell you...in my world, all things are possible. LMAO!
After something in my foot snapped, I felt like I was doing the Walk of Shame as I had to go past ALL the other athletes changing into their wetsuits. The trolley would drop people off at the furthest end of the road, so for me to get there, I had to limp by soooo many people while trying hard not to cry (the trying didn't work too well).
I didn't make eye contact with anyone as the least amount of kindness shown to me would have set me right off into major water works. (By the way, WHY does that happen???) I dug my pre-event swim bag out of the box and signaled to the trolley driver that I was going to board.
In my despair, (now remember, I had just passed the cusp of realization that I couldn't race, that I had made the decision to withdraw and turn in my chip, etc . So in other words, my emotions were still very RAW at this point) I didn't realize the trolley was full of athletes who were about to exit.
I stood as close as I could to the side of the trolley -- my face was just about touching it, so I wouldn't look at anyone. When people walked around me, I would look down or to the left or right, all the while trying to keep from bawling.
When everyone had finally exited the trolley I got back on and quickly told the trolley guy that I wouldn't be able to race. And then the full on blubbering started. Oh brother. Bless that trolley driver (Angel #1), he was like the Yoda of trolley drivers. He squeezed my hand and said a number of things, "Now don't cry, there will be other races," "Sometimes, life throws you a curve ball." That one was my favourite. :)
As we approached T1, he said that I could stay on the trolley to keep warm (it was effing cold out -- as in 3 degrees Celsius), but there was no way I'd be able to handle riding back and forth as athletes would still be boarding/disembarking. (There was a half iron event starting after the full, so it would have meant a LOT of athlete encounters. I just wasn't emotionally strong enough to bear that!!) Then, he offered to take me, my bags, and my bike to T2 (the battleship) at 10:00am.
He was such a nice guy -- he repeated things and said them slowly -- my head was spinning with emotions, and it was just so awesome that he cared enough to recognize that!
As soon as I exited the trolley, and started hobbling, this spectator (Kate, a Mom and wife, cheering on her hubby for the 1/2 race, and Angel #2) immediately insisted on carrying my swim bag and escorting me to the tent to turn in my chip. The woman manning the booth said, "I am so sorry to hear this." Again their genuine kindness and empathy sent me bawling -- I kept saying thank you and tried to make jokes. All the while blubbering a bit.
The volunteers told me to go see the doc -- so I started hobbling in that direction. Kate offered to drive me, my stuff, AND MY BIKE back to the condo where my Dad and I were staying. (My Dad had dropped me off, and then would be there for a while before he would go to T2. ) A complete stranger!! I said, "No! You need to cheer on your husband!" She replies, "Oh we have lots of time!" Can you believe it???
Anyways, we decided that I would go to the doc, and if I got released in time, she would drive me. She showed me where her and her family was standing and we parted ways.
Then, I hobbled and hobbled and hobbled to find the doc. (The T1 area is HUGE. Holy shite.) The doc and nurses had set up in this clubhouse where the swim exit was. She was amazing. As were the fellow nurses. She gave me her personal cell phone number with instructions to call her this evening (which I will), and then offered to see me on Monday. Who does things like that?
I had ice on my foot, a cup of chicken broth in my hand, and chatted it up with everyone until the athletes started exiting the water. Talk about a war zone. In an instant, the clubhouse filled with shivering, teeth-chattering, hypothermic athletes. The nurses and the doc made sure the athletes would be given warm 2 minute showers, fed warm broth, then made to jump around and keep moving. So many people came in escorted by volunteers, cold and wrapped in foil blankets.
In the melee: the volunteers below the clubhouse ran out of the warm chicken broth they were passing to shivering athletes. All the other nurses upstairs were busy with athletes. So, I hobbled to action. I started opening cans of broth -- of course the can opener was a piece of shit that only punctured in one place and refused to actually open anything. So, I had to puncture, puncture, puncture and then dump the broth into the warmer-thingy. The volunteers were saying, "We need more chicken broth!" I was going as fast as I could!
Finally, I opened all the cans.... Then, I started picking up a number of towels lying around -- I had overheard a nurse saying "We need more towels! We need to dry off the wet ones!"
After that, it was about 8:45am, and I decided to try and get my bike and bags out of T1 so I could catch the 10:00 ride. I wanted to give my foot enough time to gather all my stuff...
Hobbled down the stairs and waited for an opening between athletes, then hurriedly hobbled around this fenced corner and got out of the way. Phew! I didn't block anyone!
Next, I had to walk on the outside of the pylons that crossed the roadway -- parallel to the athletes. I felt like such a tool. All the spectators were lined on the sidewalk watching the athletes and here I come, hobbling the long, long walk all the way down the road trying not to get in anyone's way.
Finally, I made it to the T1 entrance. There was a volunteer standing there pointing the athletes in -- again, I had to hobble and talk fast because I didn't want to obstruct any athlete's view of the volunteer, and at the same time, I had to explain quickly that I was out of the race but needed to get in to get my bike and stuff.
PHEW. Got in and didn't block anyone again. Got my T1 bag, then bike. Stood around and tried to cheer for the other athletes, but had to fight tears as random things would start me crying again. Like when a song that I had trained to came blasting over the speakers....Like when Angel #3 (a fellow iron distance athlete that had to drop out at the last minute) gave me the most encouraging pep talk. She was consoling and pepping ME up when basically the same thing had happened to her. What an amazing woman -- I want to one day be able to have that kind of strength. To truly disengage from my ego and concentrate on someone else. WOW.
She hung around for a bit and gave a pep talk to an older gentleman she knew, as he fumbled into transition. She is my hero I tell you.
10:00am came and went. As did all the half-iron athletes. And then the volunteers. I was getting thirsty by this point and a little scared. I'd asked volunteer after volunteer about this 10:00am trolley and no one had a clue. As the yellow-shirted volunteers started clearing out, I was lucky enough to snag one that said she would try and track down one of the head volunteers. She said it was going to be hard, as the head volunteers weren't wearing the bright yellow volunteer shirts.
There were less and less people around, and I was getting more and more anxious as I awkwardly wheeled my bike and bulky transition bags around and around T1 trying to find a way to get home.
Finally the awesome volunteer (Angel #4) came running back and said that if I could wait another 45 minutes , the head dude would take me and my bike to T2 and the finish line. Just as she said that, two women who were standing near me, offered to take me and all my stuff to T2 right then and there!! (Angels #5 and #6) They were spectating - one had done the swim as part of a relay.
They were so awesome and so friendly. Again, I had to fight tears because they were just so damn KIND!!!!
We finally made it to downtown Wilmington. The only way I could get my bike to T2 was to take the water taxi across. As we approached the lineup....the long, long lineup, I told the ladies I was going to try and cut in line. That if it worked, "Thanks so much for everything!" (I think this was the millionth time I had thanked them -- LOL), and that if it didn't, I would join them at the back of the line.
I wheeled my bike to the front of the line (with my bags banging against the front wheel, and my body and mind getting progressively more discombobulated) and said, "Excuse me everyone -- Could I please cut in the line?" I then went on to explain what happened to me.
Now, I lost count of the number of Angels....OH MAN. EVERYONE was so kind. I had my sunglasses on and I started crying again. I was hoping the sunglasses would hide it....I also tried to not wrinkle my forehead (you know how you do when you cry?) to give it away, but I am not sure how successful I was. I don't know how many people offered to help me on and off the boat....MAN!
Then, the first volunteer table I came across at the finish line was staffed with even more awesome people. Geez -- I think the gentleman's name was Frank who had a great sense of humour. What is it with these people that know just the right thing to say?
When I found my Dad (miracle among miracles -- honestly, people! Have you ever BEEN at an iron distance finish line?) I broke down again. Sigh.
After a tub of Haagen Dazs, and some more tears, the world righted itself again. :) (Ok, ok, ok and a Snickers bar. LMAO!!!)
Now you can see why even though I didn't race, I did have a story to tell! I remain overwhelmed by the kindness of Wilmingtonians. Even before the race, when my Dad and I would drive out into the country side and park the car so I could bike, locals kept stopping and asking if my Dad was all right. If he needed help. One lady even offered him bottled water!
Now as to the North Carolina accent.....
That is a whole OTHER post. LOL. Honestly, there have been a number of times where I have had to say, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you!" I feel like such a dork, but there are only so many times I can say, "Pardon me?" before I have to confess. LOL!!