Going into race weekend I told myself that this was something I wanted to really experience and not just push through and finish - I'm so glad I relaxed and was able to take it all in!
The entire weekend was amazing!
There was so much more to our weekend than just the swim, bike and run.
As a racer there was preparation and afterwards was recovery.
(wearing my participant shirt the day before the race to rack my bike & attend pre-race safety meetings)
(riding the shuttle to the race venue we passed the Washington Monument. it was September 11th and every flag was at half-staff. it was humbling)
(our bikes were shipped to D.C. without the pedals on so we had to make sure everything was secure and properly tightened before racking our bikes - Doug took care of checking my bike)
(getting 'marked' with my race number & age while taking my bike into the transition area)
(we were the first group in to rack our bikes - the transition area was 240,000 square feet! it was HUGE! a total of 4,700 racers eventually filled all of these racks with their bikes and gear!)
(we attended mandatory safety briefings regarding the swim portion and directions then there was a practice swim opportunity. that is Memorial Bridge in the background that we had to swim beneath and beyond - thankfully the current isn't very strong)
I've been training as a member of Team In Training: Indiana Chapter, but am not a part of a local team that includes other triathletes. The closest team member I have had to train with is Carl, who lives in LaPorte. We've gotten together a few times to swim the lake and bike but really have done our training on our own.
It's a completely different experience than training with a team day-in-and-day-out.
The Indianapolis team was so accepting of us and whole weekend, even though it was the first time we were meeting them.
(Carl did this race in memory of his son Carl Para III, who lost his battle to leukemia in May 2009. He was only 16 years old.)
(the night before the race the Indy tri coach presented every racer with an "award" and here are Carl & I accepting our Rockstar drinks for 'being such Rockstars for doing our training solo')
Each team has an Honored Hero that they race for in addition to someone they may already know personally who has had a blood-cancer. Meet Lauryn - she is the Honored Hero for the Indianapolis team. Her whole family came to D.C. and she had gotten to know all the other racers really well during the last four months of training. It was so sweet to see her smile and play with everyone!
I wanted my own mother there so badly to share this with me but finances just didn't allow it.
I knew she was with me in spirit and I kept reminding myself how blessed I was that she is still with us and continuing to fight the cancer. Moms hugs are the best no matter how old you are!
(here is Lauryn with her birthday cupcake as we sing Happy Birthday to her - she celebrated her sixth birthday a few days after our race. her dad completed the race carrying Lauryn across the finish line with her older sister running beside him! Lauryn is in chemo right now continuing to battle leukemia and just this past week is beginning to lose her hair again)
The night before the race The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society held a Team In Training pasta dinner that we all attended. There were inspirational speakers, fundraising totals & awards and great food!
All the coaches and trainers from across the country lined the stairs and hallway leading into the enormous banquet hall - they were cheering and shouting with cowbells, whistles and horns! It was the best pep-rally ever!
(the banquet hall with 585 Team In Training racers plus countless spouses, coaches, children and trainers! team Indiana raised over $85,000!)
(Team in Training: Indiana Chapter along with family & friends that came with them to D.C.)
The morning of the race had the most beautiful sunrise!
After the race it was crazy trying to find people. There were long lines to get gear out from the transition area but we were in no hurry to go anywhere. It was great to catch up with Carl and a few others from team Indiana before heading back to the hotel & heading out to see D.C. with my hubby.