By Becky Piper
Three years ago, barely a year into recovery from the scariest and most devastating day of my life, I stood volunteering for the San Diego Triathlon Challenge. Surrounded by people with all different disAbilities, I said to Sam, “You know what? I’m going to be back but I’m going to be on the starting line.” He said, “Yes you will.”
Three years later, I stood getting ready to race. Even though the swim was cancelled (the waves were HUGE), I was ready to start the 44 mile bike. I inched slowly closer to the start. I didn’t start with most of the challenged athletes because I was chatting it up with April, my shadower for the bike. We started up the first hill. We thought it was kind of tricky but we were glad it was done. I knew there was a bigger hill coming but honestly, without riding it, I didn’t really know… 1 ½ miles later, we started up Mt. La Jolla Shores Drive (I heard someone call it that and thought it was very appropriate…) I was getting a little cranky, so I started doing math problems as I went up that mean ol’ mountain. 2 plus 2 is 4… 4 plus 4 is 8… and so on aaalllll the way up that hill. I saw multiple people walking. That’s how I knew this thing was no joke. But I finally made it!
A few miles of pedaling later, April and I suddenly heard whooping and crazy yelling coming from the side of the road… that’s right, there was my husband, my sister, my mom, and some of our friends all shouting from the side of the road. I looked at April, said “That’s my family right there!” We kept on going and came upon THE DOWNHILL. I started my adding trick again. I swear, we went 2 miles downhill. Somehow we got down that thing still on the bike.
From there on out I kind of blocked the hills from my mind because the whole ride was hills. The course was kind of a lollipop shape, and we got back to the stick part of the lollipop, which was at the bottom of THE DOWNHILL. So I changed its name to THE UPHILL. It took a solid 10 minutes of going. Constant. Going. I even passed some other racers! Finally I made it to the top. Such a glorious feeling! We stopper for water and Electrolytes at the aid station up there. By then it was HOT and my tummy wasn’t much of a fan of anything else.
Next, we came to the descent of Mt. La Jolla Shores Drive. It was steep. I had to whip out the ol’ math problems. But finally I made it! I rode each hill up and down WITHOUT having to walk my bike.
Finally, after one more super steep hill I made it back to transition!
I knew I couldn’t run much, but I said I would run, so I had to a little bit. I climbed up that last steep hill made it to the top and I was going to turn around right there, but one of the crossing guards encouraged me to make it to the corner. So I did. I turned around a bit after that. I knew it was time. If I had gone further, I seriously thought I was risking injury. So I swallowed my pride, and turned around and finished that crazy event UNINJURED.
And I STILL got victory pancakes! 🙂