On October 5, my countdown began: 30 days until my 30th birthday. In honor of this, on each of the 30 days leading up to my birthday I will recount one memory from the past 30 years… either one that has helped define me, one that makes me laugh, one that makes me think, one that encourages me… or maybe a little of everything. If possible, I will post a photo to go along with the memory.
It’s my 30/30/30 Project: 30 years. 30 memories. 30 days.
Here is my memory for Day #4:
I worked out a lot in 2009. It began as a way to take my mind off things, as it was a big transition year for me, but it turned into a bit of a healthy addiction. I ended up running two marathons and competing in two Half Ironman distance triathlons, among numerous other races.
One of the greatest things that came out of it all, of course, was that I met Brian.
He was hinting yesterday that I haven’t written a memory about him yet in this 30/30/30 Project. While I could have just steered him towards MY ARCHIVES for plenty of stories with him as the protagonist, I did had a memory on my mind anyway, so I figured I’d humor him.
It happened last September during the second Half Ironman I did. We weren’t “officially” dating yet, but we had been hanging out a lot. Even though Brian wasn’t competing that day, he offered to pick me up and drive me to the race. This meant that he had to wake up early. Like, 4:00am early. But he drove into my driveway with his loud diesel truck right on time at 5:00am (to the delight of my parents’ neighbor) without any mention of the ungodly hour.
The swim portion of the race went well for me; I was the first one out of the water in my age group. But things started unraveling during the bike leg. First, around mile 10, I got a flat tire. This was a problem because I did not know how to change a flat (shamefully, I still don’t). I waited for awhile on the side of the road until, thankfully, someone from NBX (a race sponsor) came and helped me out. I lost about 25 minutes total, but my tire got fixed and I was back in the race.
Then, around mile 50, I got confused by a race flagger. I couldn’t tell if he was telling me to go straight or take a right turn, but it seemed he was swinging his flag to the right, so right I went. I was riding on a main road and there were other people on bikes around me, so I thought I had made the right call until I realized none of the riders around me had race numbers on their bikes.
I was going completely in the wrong direction. I had to figure out a way to loop back around and find my way back to the race course.
When I finally finished the bike portion, which was supposed to be 56 miles long, but probably ended up being more like 58, I was not happy. Between the flat tire and the wrong turn, it had been a less-than-ideal ride. I had had it.
Brian met me outside of the transition area as I prepared for the run and I told him that I honestly didn’t even want to finish the race. He told me to forget about the bike and just go out and have fun during the run. I would regret not finishing the race.
He was right. So I headed off on the 13.1 mile run, determined to finish what I had started. It took me a few miles to get into it, as I was still unhappy about the bike, but along the way I just focused on doing well in the run since I had had a good swim, and didn’t want a bad attitude to ruin the race.
Still, 13.1 miles is a long distance to run, especially after 56 (or, in this case 58) miles on the bike, on top of 1.2 miles swimming in the ocean. You’re alone with your thoughts. Your body is tired. You’re ready for the race to end. The markers at each mile seem to get further and further apart.
This is what I was experiencing as I neared the marker for mile 10. And that’s when I saw someone sitting by the side of the road. As I got closer, I realized it was Brian. As I ran up to him, he stood up and said, “OK, 3.1 miles to go. Let’s do this.”
Like many of the sweet things he does for me, it was just what I needed at that moment. He kept me motivated for those last miles, and I finished the race strong.
It’s one of my favorite Brian memories.