|Posted by benproko on May 21, 2013 at 1:00 AM|
Thanks to OutRival, I was presented with the opportunity to sign up for Ironman Texas at the last minute in March, so I said why not? In March I was 100% back in the game after my surgery! Training was going awesome and I won Overall Female for the first time at the Opelousas Rotary Sunrise Duathlon. (Course I had to go to Louisiana to do it- you Texas people are too fast…okay okay Louisiana- I know, the fast people stayed home that day). Anyway, after I signed up, I shifted my training over to endurance and set my own personal goals for the race. However, those standards gradually got lowered due to…well I won’t burden you with the laundry list of excuses- in brief summation, Ironman Texas for the 2nd go round simply became a watered down something to add to my track record. In hind sight, I believe it was all a part of His plan. God was setting me up for mile 25 on the bike- putting me in the right place, at the right time for a friend/client who would need me to finish her first Ironman.
Now, I cannot tell you as well as Danielle could about how much getting to the starting line and finishing Ironman Texas meant to her. But as her coach, after meeting her in the fall of 2012, getting to know her through the whole experience- I knew this was something more than just a check mark to a bucket list. The experience to her was to become a testimony of faith, perseverance, and ultimate trust in Him.
Danielle had called me about many concerns and worries she had prior to the race. But after the race we laughed about how none of the things she was worried about caused her any issues, however one of the things she was not worried about happened, and could have been a terrible ending to her journey of becoming a first time Ironman- a DNF. The dreaded “Did Not Finish.” We athletes shutter at the acronym. And her “could have been DNF” would have been the result of a “silly little blow out.” But this blow out was by no means “silly.” Oh no, it was just one little spark to ignite a series of mishaps. Thank God I happened to swim slower than Danielle and thank God I was only a few minutes behind her when it happened and thank God I recognized her on the side of the road. I had no idea that she would be decked out in pink and black. I could not even decipher the details on her bike as my view of it was blocked by the police officer on a motorcycle. And at 18 mph, I could not discern her facial features in her LG Aero Helmet. The only thing I can think of was that maybe I recognized her voice (even though it was broken through sobs) when she spoke to the officer as I road by. I will say it once and I will say it again- it truly was a God thing.
“Danielle?” I shouted back. “Are you okay?”
“No, my tire blew out!” I hear her say in heart broken frustration and defeat. “I don’t know how to fix it. Oh no, I am not going to finish.”
“No, no, no! We can fix this. Here, it easy.” Only it wasn’t. For this race wheel I needed man hands to get the tube out. Billy, the only one who responded to Danielle’s pleas for help, assisted us with that- thank you Billy! (and in my defense, he struggled with it too- ;P). I took care of the rest. Removed the tube, rubbed my fingers through the tire and Bike Tech arrived as I was about to use a CO2 cartridge. They put air in the tire for us using a pump. All looked well, and we took off. Only all was not well. Tire blew out again. Danielle, too, became deflated. At that moment, without hesitation, I said “Danielle, take my wheel.”
“Katie NO!” She cried. “Then you won’t finish.”
“Danielle, I have already done an Ironman. You haven’t. I won’t have it any other way. Your finish is more important than my finish. I will wait and get this fixed and then I will catch back up to you.” I knew there was a possibility I wouldn’t but I didn’t care. I knew I was serving the Lord and was thrilled to seize the opportunity. I was happy knowing God puts us in the right place at the right time and uses us to fulfill His purpose.
Long story short, I convinced Danielle to take my tire. She took off. They “fixed” the 2nd flat. Tire blew out again. Discovered a slit in the tire and an issue with the valve. Waited on Tech to fix valve and replace tire. Finally success- I genuinely thank you Bike Tech! But I drank all my water while waiting in the scorching heat. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, etc. set in as I worked hard to make the bike cut off. Barely made it. Tried to run but every time I attempted a jog or even a brisk walk, my heart started beating erratically, and irregular, had chest tightness and discomfort. For those of you who do not know, I have a dysfunctional heart. And as we all know, the heart is not an organ to be gambled with under these or any conditions. My husband, who sacrificed a PR to walk along side me during his last lap of the run talked out the situation with me. I made my decision and I took the DNF.
The dreaded “Did Not Finish?” Yes, only I don’t frown when I see it next to my name. A few weeks before the race I asked myself several times- “why did I sign up for Ironman Texas again?” That question was answered when God used me and I handed Danielle my wheel. Seeing Danielle at the finish was greater than putting a 2nd Ironman finish in the books for me.
*Icing on the cake was seeing Leo Bourgeois cross the finish line. Leo, who is an amazing/incredible person- has a phenomenal testimony of perseverance as well. After Saturday, May 18th, I have a whole new perspective on the Ironman race, the athletes who participate in it and the wonderful volunteers. The best in humanity brought out by one crazy race!