New Year’s Eve 2007 (two years before Ben’s dx date) I made the very popular New Year’s resolution to get in shape. My sister convinced me to train for a triathlon. The hope was that if I set goal I would be able to keep my resolution. So my sister and I started our triathlon training, which included swimming laps at the local pool, running a 5k and buying a bike. In July of 2007, in a very unimpressive time, I completed my first triathlon. Since then every year I have signed up for a triathlon in the hope that I would continue to train and stay in shape.
After Ben was diagnosed in 2009 a friend suggested we sign up for the 2010 Cohasset Triathlon because it was associated with JDRF as its fundraising partner. So that is what we did along with Jeff, my sister, my brother-in-law, and several friends. We named our fundraising team “Team Ben”. Jeff took the fundraising very seriously and started sending out emails early. By the day of the race our team had successfully raised close to $12,000. And, yes, I completed yet another triathlon! With that success, we decided to sign up for the 2011 Cohasset Triathlon. Team Ben increased from 8 team members to 17. And we set another $15,000 fundraising goal.
Unfortunately, since Ben’s diagnosis my training had dwindled down to almost nothing. By the summer of 2011 I was completely out of shape! Not unlike many D-moms I was overwhelmed with the amount of time and worry it took to manage Ben’s diabetes. I had slowly let his diabetes over take my life. Between work, managing the house, preparing well carb calculated meals, tracking Ben’s glucose numbers, and getting all three boys to their sporting events there seemed little time left in the day to do anything but sleep (until of course the 3am alarm wakes us to check Ben).
The Saturday before the triathlon we drove to Cohasset to register. We meet many of our Team Ben members there. I walked through the registration line with my sister. At the end of the line there was a schedule of the age group waves posted. When I saw that my wave, women 45-50, was the last wave before the relay teams, I gasped and laughed. I told my sister, “I will most certainly be the last person to cross the finish the line!” She tried to encourage me and suggest otherwise. Even when I was “in shape” my previous triathlon finish times were always in the bottom 20%. I felt horribly unprepared and now I was facing the prospect of being last. Ugh!
Race day we woke up early along with the kids and our sitter Lauren (who is also has T1) and headed to Cohasset. I kept reminding myself I can do this and to not worry about the times. We first start with the swim which I completed in a respectable time (definitely not the last one out of the water). Next leg is the bike. I hate the bike! I spend this entire leg just trying to stay alive. The bumpy roads, traffic and other cyclist terrify me. Since I was tired from the swim I coasted (a lot!) and mostly watched the other cyclists fly past me quickly losing any lead I may have had after the swim. By the time I started the last leg, the run, it was noon and it was hot! While I was running I must have been visibly struggling because a woman who was heading back to her car (wearing flip flops) started running along side me. She was encouraging me to keep running. Eventually she left me for the parking lot and I was on my own again.
By the time I reached the 2 mile mark there were few other runners in sight. I was chugging along in what felt like slow motion when I heard a rumbling sound. Though it took almost all the energy I had left I turned around and saw a fire truck! It was driving at about 2 miles an hour following me. Oh God! I was last! But I kept running and fighting the urge to just stop and walk. Next thing I knew there is a cop on a motorbike riding right along next to me! He started chatting with me encouraging me, telling me I am doing a great job. After a few minutes of this I turned and gave him the evil eye! He then turned to me and asked if he was bothering me. I replied, “Yes! Please go away.” He slowly fell behind me along with the fire truck.
Now comes the mental game. I try to convince all the voices in my head that I am not a total loser, which is tough since those voices are so mean! I want to start walking … but I start reminding myself, I can’t quit because what will I be teaching the kids? I can’t give up just because it has gotten really, really hard. Ben will face much tougher challenges in his life and he can never ever give up. So I turned this into a chant. And with ever painful step I chanted in my head,
You can’t quit because Ben can’t quit …
You can’t quit because Ben can’t quit …
You can’t quit because Ben can’t quit
Finally, I hear the crowd and cross the finish line. Team Ben was there to give me high fives! Oh God, that was just the worst.
After the race Team Ben met back at our house for pizza and beer. While we were hanging out my sister decided she wanted to check the race results which get immediately posted to the internet. I grumbled but she suggested that even though I was the last to cross the finish line that did not mean I had the slowest race time. So we looked. We scrolled down, down, down the list and found my name. And indeed I didn’t have the slowest race time. I finished 768 out of 773. Then I laughed and said “Hey! I beat a man, Dick Hoyt, in the 70+ category.” Then my sister fell off her chair laughing! My friend, Sarah, then asked, “Do you realize who Dick Hoyt is?” Slowly, I did realize. Dick Hoyt is a local legend. He has run many Boston Marathons pushing his physically disabled son in a wheel chair. They have run thousands of races together. His son is now in his 40s and Dick Hoyt in his 70s. He just completed the Cohasset triathlon swimming and pulling his adult son in a raft, then biking and running with him and it took him only 3 minutes longer than it took me to complete it all by myself.
That was certainly not something to brag about … but in the end maybe Dick Hoyt and I had more in common then our times and rankings. We love our babies. He ran the triathlon because he loves his son! And I had just done the same thing! Halloween 2009, when Ben was first diagnosed, I had made a promise to Ben and myself that I would do whatever I could to help find a cure for T1 diabetes. I hope that I can have the same level of tireless dedication that Dick Hoyt has demonstrated towards his son.
Team Ben is running the Cohasset Triathlon again. This year we have 27 members and have again set our fundraising goal for $15,000. This year I am not going to be last because I am only doing the swim leg of a relay team with includes my oldest son Garren and my brother-in-law. (Plus, I have actually trained this year!)
Dick Hoyt and his son are also racing again this year. There will be a lot of love in Cohasset this June. And if winners were ranked by love I am sure Dick Hoyt would be in first place and I am certain my name would be right next to his again!
Just in case you are feeling inspired here is a link to our fundraising page: http://jdrfevents.donordrive.com/team/teamben3