Following is a guest post from Gail Warshaw, a friend and long-time member of the Jersey Girls StayStrong Multisport Club. I loved reading Gail’s Facebook post, and since she doesn’t have a blog I wanted to share and save this for her.
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I’ve had a day to reflect on my experience at the USAT National Sprint Championships. When I got to packet pickup Friday, I looked around at all the very fit people and wondered what I was doing here. I convinced myself that they were doing the Olympic Distance on Saturday, while I was doing the Sprint on Sunday. But I saw plenty of red wrist bands, the color for the Sprint. Antje Hennings was by my side, telling me I’d be fine. We drive the bike course – I thought Lincoln Memorial Drive was the hill – but then we drove on 794 – and the bridge seemed to just keep going up – uh oh. On Saturday, we went back to the race site because I needed to rack my bike in transition the day before the race. There were some unbelievable Tri bikes there but I found my race number spot and racked my road bike. The good news for me and my non-existent sense of direction. My spot was in the second row and there were flags around the perimeter and my bike was across from a white flag so I had my landmarks to find my stuff when I came back from the swim & bike the next day. Race morning came. Antje told me to just think about swimming with my father and cycling with the Jersey Girls. And I asked “and running with you?” She made me laugh & relax telling me for the run, I was on my own. The swim started and I jumped in with the other women for a quick warm up as we swam from the warm up area to the start – nothing warm about it – 65 degrees is colder than it sounds. The gun went off and I started swimming – under the bridge, past the row of orange buoys, around the yellow buoys, keeping more orange buoys on my right and I can see the swim finish arch. Out of the water, up the ramp, and I start the run to transition. I hear Antje call me from where she was volunteering near the swim finish. Hearing her voice means the world to me. I can do this. I find my bike, peel off my wetsuit, get on my bike stuff and I’m off. Partway up the on Lincoln Memorial, the fog rolls in and I really can’t see very well. Oh, well. Top of the hill, turn around, back down and then start up the ramp to 794. Up & up and up. Plus more fog. I know why my nieces, Nancy Komisar and Dina Komisar Schachtely looked a little startled when I described the bike course. I reached the crest and still had gears left. Hurray! Oh wait – there is a turnaround and I need to go back up again. I passed a few women from my swim wave. I wasn’t fast but I just kept pedaling and before I know it, I’m at the bike dismount. Back to transition – bike shoes off – socks & running shoes on. I start to see a few more women from my swim wave. One foot in front of the other – just keep moving. I’m just about at the finish. I can see the finisher arch I had seen at packet pickup. This time, rather than from the distance, I was going to run through it – feeling triumphant. I hear music, and realize they are playing Pharrell’s “Happy”. The understatement of the weekend. I hear Antje call me. I get my FINISHER’s medal and a cold USAT towel. I run over to Antje, shout out “I did it”! And then I burst into tears. I arrived at the race site totally inhibited by the other racers – and we were racked in age groups so all the women around me were in their 60s like me, or late 50s. What a great group athletes. Many had raced in Nationals numerous times. I was a first timer. They were excited for me when they found that out. I was excited for my transition neighbors – some of whom placed in the age group, some achieved PRs, some doubled, doing back to back triathlons, racing both the Olympic and the Sprint. I finished the race toward the bottom of the age group and frankly toward the bottom of all the finishers but faster than I had expected. I finished incredibly proud of myself and my achievement. My sister, Barbara Warshaw Komisar, got to see me finish on the live stream. Thank you Antje, for saying I should register and we would drive out to my sister’s with my bike. As always, when you aren’t doing a duathlon when I do a triathlon, you are with me from the moment I take the first stroke in the water until I take the last step across the finish line. You are my everything and my reason for being.