For those of you that are athletes, the word “Transition” might elicit thoughts of hurried participants.. setting up their transition stations. We get our numbers, find our place within the cow pen of bikes, running shoes, wetsuits, bare feet, and half naked people proudly displaying their marked up arms and legs.
The Transitioning station, or cow pen.. is a place where the athletes use as their original “home base” during a race, and then return to after each completion of a race section. We walk excitedly and with nerves heightened to join our heat of similarly ridiculous looking people looking like Superheros with pink, yellow, or lime green caps.. We make eye contact with our age division and size each other up.. trying to determine who to swim close to, who to avoid like the plague so we don’t get kicked or womped in the head, and who else just needs a “Good Morning, are you excited?? me too”.
Then the announcer speaks, he welcomes us to the “Race”, the American Anthem plays.. and we hold our hands to our hearts and thank God for the opportunity to compete, to breathe, to swim, to bike, to run, to laugh, to love. I never cared where I placed (well, maybe with cycling), I just loved doing them.
Then the countdown.. and the gun goes off.. Heart beats increase as the first heat runs into the water… slowly disappearing like a rabid school of fish..
Inching closer, feeling the sand between our toes… adjusting the goggles one last time, quickly moving our arms, jumping around.. psyching up.. “GO”.
Splish, Splash, splish, dive….. and were off.. the journey has begun.. the bottom is clear.. then the bottom is gone, blackness.. “breathe”… always sighting.. then back down.. “breathe”.. when the buoy has been rounded.. the heart begins to settle into a groove… “Were almost there”. Suddenly the ground is visible again.. feet drop, and we struggle to get our walking legs back… The crowds cheer… Time to unzip.. and run…
Wiping the salty water out of our eyes, while pulling off our caps, unzipping our suits, struggling and attempting to move as quick as we can.. so that we can put on our cycling shoes.. un-rack our bikes.. strap on our helmet, put on our shades, and try to get a sip of water. “Smile”, everyone is looking, cheering, and out the cow pen you go, with bike seat under your right hand.. while you run and adjust everything else until you are in the “mounting zone”.
Returning to transition with calves blazing, heart thumping, adrenaline soaring… feeling good, feeling strong, ready.. bike gets racked, cycling shoes off, helmet on the towel, a quick wipe of the brow while you slip on your running shoes zip up your ties.. and out of transition # 3. Your on the home stretch now, just miles of running… all smiles.. feeling sore, but breathing… embracing the cheers.. embracing your sweaty stinky self.. embracing life.
Although I never had a chance to start my morning getting marked up with my tri numbers, or excitedly lubing up my bike and checking my gears… I did wake up that morning unaware, that I was about to start the biggest triathlon of my life.. followed by even bigger transitions.. Timing wasn’t always imperative, what was imperative, was that I completed each section.. and I transitioned into the next. Trusting in my creator to help me get through every trial.
I think right now, Im somewhere in my “bike ride”, it seems to be a longer ride than usual… This time, my transition includes meeting all my heroes.. WALKING towards them with outstretched arms.. like Im gliding in the pool.. only this time, to wrap them tightly and say “Thank you”.
To all my friends and family that helped me get to this second transition, “Thank you”. When I arrive back at the cow pen, and ready for transition three.. to RUN out.. smiling.. Ill be sure to let you know.. For now, my race number has taken on a different form.. It turned into letters and symbols.. the tattoo on my arm of my salmon is my competition “number”, always reminding me to persevere.. and although you can’t see them.. the words “Grace” are all around me… on my arms, my legs, and in my heart.
The race is far from over, were in the thick of it now.. and were transitioning on.
With love and grace,