Half way through the bike you pass a sign marking Mile 6. By the time I was passing this sign I was exhausted. I had watched biker, after biker, after biker, after biker, after biker (I think you get my point) pass me by. The voices in my head were beating me up pretty badly. They sounded something like this:
“Are you watching everyone fly past you?”
“Who exactly do you think you are?”
“You are a 47-year-old woman who did not properly train for this race.”
“You have no right even being on this course!”At this point I was pretty close to pulling my bike over, sitting in the grass, and crying. But I knew I couldn’t do that. First, I have way too much pride to be a quitter. Second, I was doing this for Ben, to raise money for JDRF. So I decided if I was going to finish this race, I was going to have to change the conversation in my head!
As I was pedaling, I thought about the Hoyts. (http://www.teamhoyt.com/) Just the day before, after we had registered for the triathlon and received our race numbers we went to hear the Hoyts tell their story. (The Hoyts seem to keep finding their way into this blog.) During their presentation Dick Hoyt (the father) told us after they had run their very first race together Rick (his son with cerebral palsy) told him that while they were racing he felt free for the first time. Dick Hoyt then explained that as long as he could give his son this feeling, the feeling of being free, he would run with him as long as humanly possible.
That was the moment I choked up. I know Ben and Rick Hoyt have very different physical issues. Their lives are not really similar at all. But what they do have in common is they both have parents that want them to feel “free”. Free for Ben would be a life without the constant burden and worry of his diabetes. And I would do anything to give Ben that freedom … including racing this god forsaken Triathlon!
Slowly, I was changing the story in my head.As I am working on my resolve … SWOOSH! One of our Team Ben members races by me and shouts, “You can do it, Dolores.”
Instantly, I remembered I am not in this alone. I thought about all our AMAZING Team Ben members. I thought about all our friends and family who were racing with us that day; who have supported us over the past 4 years; who have done their own fundraising sending emails to their friends and coworkers telling Ben’s story and asking for help.
Then the tears started. I was not 100% certain exactly why I was crying, but I was certain I couldn't do it right there, right then! Certainly, if someone noticed a blubbering, 40-year-old woman, panting on this bicycle they would call an ambulance.
So I started chanting in my head, “You can do it … You can do it … You can do it.”Then the conversation in my head went like this:
“You can’t let your team members down.”
“You need to keep pedaling this F***ing bike.”
“You need to finish this race!”
“And unless they find a cure this year, you are going to do this again.”
“And next year … you are going to train!”Eventually I did finish the race. (Only after my dear friend, and team member, Sarah encouraged me through the last 2 miles of the run.) We ended the race taking this photo before we headed off to our Team Ben BBQ.
But wait! This is not the end of my story! This group of athletes (Yes, I am now calling myself an athlete, I did just finish a triathlon) in 4 years has raised $60,000 for JDRF! And in that time (and I like to think with that money), there have been significant advances made. We seem to be a whole lot closer to a viable and working artificial pancreas, a tool that won’t cure T1, but will provide all those children and adults living with T1 a real sense of freedom! My dream come true.
I wish there were a way to let all our Team Ben members know how truly thankful I am. I hope a hug, a kiss, and a smile will do for now, because there can be no more tears (like I already said, I have too much pride for that).