A memory not soon forgotten

Liz Sharpe - Friday, April 01, 2016 | Comments (0)


Memories are fickle and funny things. They come out of seemingly nowhere and strike both good and bad chords. My husband has one of the best memories I know. He won’t remember what I said five minutes ago, but he can remember a taste, smell, or feeling from a particular day in 1985. I’m often jealous of his nostalgic memories, but I’m just not built that way. Because of that, I was surprised this morning when a random memory from 2008 popped into my mind.

I started triathlon in 2007 after a friend who had been racing for a few years said he thought I would love it. I didn’t know what I was doing but figured if I could swim a little, learn to bike, and run a few times, I’d survive. My first race was the Danskin women’s sprint in June of that year. Soon after I crossed the finish line, like literally that night, I was scouring the internet for other options that summer. I did three more races that year and was an instant tri addict.

Thinking I’d mastered the sprint distance (like this will ever happen!), I set my eyes on an Olympic distance race, which I considered a big deal (still do!). Luckily I had made several amazing tri friends at the pool (Patty and Jana), and we all took the Olympic plunge together. The Irongirl series was just getting started, and my friends and I figured let’s ease into this longer distance thing with a women’s only race. We chose the Lake Las Vegas location, which added intrigue and excitement. Also, at least for me, we weren’t racing on home turf (Colorado has a dearth of talented athletes--kidding) so if it was an epic fail, then we wouldn’t know anyone. Race day was beautiful and for all three of us, the race was a great success. The water was cold, I mean seriously, in the upper 50s, the bike was challenging but beautiful, and the run was scenic and hilly.

Back to my memory this morning. In 2008, Irongirl had a pro field at some of its races, including the one I did. I can’t recall everyone who raced but I remember Mirinda Carfrae, Pip Taylor, and Sam McGlone for certain. I attended the pro panel the day before to pick up any tips and tricks for a successful race and just to be in awe of these stellar athletes. My mom and I watched Rinny and Sam do swim drills in the tiny hotel pool where they methodically and without interruption swam just inches from clueless pool lovers who had no idea how close they were to being swum over. I was fascinated and inspired. They were badass. What struck me today and what I’m still grateful for is that in the final mile stretch to the finish line that day, I saw Rinny and some of the other pros on a cool down run. We passed each other and in my dazed state I heard them cheering for me: “stay strong,” “go girl.” Pros cheering for me? They had just raced their hearts out, were still running (for fun--something I couldn’t fathom), and they took a moment to yell for me. Wow, badass indeed.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that kind of behavior is pretty common in triathlon, not only from pros, but also from fellow athletes. It’s about supporting one another, getting the best out of each other, and pushing others to achieve their dreams. Thank you Mirinda for the memory. It was a great welcome into the wonderful community of triathlon, and it’s one that I won’t soon forget.



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