Seeing the same lake through a new set of eyes.
We all know I’m a sucker for anniversaries and memories. In fact a good chunk of this blog has been about remembering and celebrating particular milestones. So it goes without saying that this summer there was one huge milestone I couldn’t let pass by… Iron Girl. For the entire week I reminisced over those sleepless nights, the countdown, how my dining room table was a packing station, and those terrifying butterflies that wouldn’t disappear.
I mentioned before that I wasn’t able to participate this year due to another special event that weekend. I was content with sitting it out because I knew that it would never compare to what I experienced last year. However I still had friends who were participating, and so I knew that I needed to head out there to support them as they had done for me.
Driving to Central Massachusetts in the early hours of the morning was eerily familiar of exactly one year earlier. I watched the sun peak up from behind the hills and remembered the ride to the race site, remembered pinching my arm to prevent myself from throwing up in the car. I ended up having to park my car in a satelite lot so I brought my bike so I could make it to my friends in time (former fat kid flashback: who ever thought I would think of THAT?). I took a left turn in to the lake, passed under the landmark underpass, and my body was instantly covered with goosebumps. Suddenly it felt weird being there. Suddenly I wish I had stayed home and just slept in.
I found my friends and hugged them tightly as I wished them good luck. And then I stood and watched them make their way to the chute, digging my feet in the sand to prevent myself from running to join them. I found a good spot to spectate and stared out at the lake that had once terrified me. I thought about how much I’ve changed since the day I stood in that water, how much I’ve grown since then. I watched as wave after wave was called.I wondered how many of those girls were doing their first race. I wondered how many of them were as nervous as I had been. I hoped they too had someone with them to calm them down.
As the morning went on I quickly forgot about myself. I got so caught up in making sure that I caught my friends at each point in the race, made sure I got pictures as they headed in and out of transition, cheered as they made their way to the final finish. I watched as athlete after athlete crossed the finish line: sometimes in a zone by themselves and sometimes with a friend by their side. I smiled inside when I saw groups of three cross together. I imagined those girls who were so scared at the swim, now beaming as they made their way under the banner. I knew exactly what they were feeling.
At the end of the day I was glad I was there to spectate and to see my team cross the finish line. As tired as I was it felt good to be a part of it in a totally different way. While my friends packed up their transition areas before we headed to breakfast I walked back over to the lake to grab my bike. I stood and looked out at the water, back in it’s calm state. I stood for a moment and said out loud “I’ll see you next year”. I’m not completely confident in that statement. Maybe Iron Girl was something I only needed to experience once. Maybe that was my gateway into bigger and better things. Maybe I left that lake the first time forever changed.