Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Strength and Determination Redefined

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength."

All of us who spend umpteenth hours at the pool, the lake, the bike or the pavement training our bodies to endure punishment beyond unknown limits.  The sometimes pain is something that we feel during the hot, cold or otherwise unpleasant training runs or rides. We prepare our bodies for certain events and we follow plans that take us from the first stroke in the water to the last step on the run and everything in between.  Anything and everything the course has to offer we have probably seen and are ready to endure.  After all, that's what we do.

What we cannot prepare for, train for, or foresee is the totally unexpected.  The totally bizarre.

On Saturday, August 14 my wife and I took part, along with several of our teammates, in the Mountain Lakes Triathlon in Guntersville, Al.  For a good portion of us, it was a return trip.  For my wife it was her first time. 

It was also her first open water triathlon.

She had prepared for the event like everyone else.  She put in her time.  She swam her laps, rode and ran her miles.  She was ready, focused and excited.

Upon arrival at the site she racked her bike, eat a banana and proceeded to warm up in the lake, just like most everyone else was doing.  All was great, it would be an event to remember.  She was about to complete a challenge she had imposed on herself a few months back.  You could tell her excitement by the smile on her face.  Nothing was going to get in her way.

Or was it?

Her bib number was 849.  This placed her towards the back of the field.  She's not a fast swimmer, just an adequate one.  This positioning didn't face her.

As she approached the timing mats she could hear numbers being called; 847, 848...849.  Off she went.

Second step into the water her foot found a rock.  A rock with a sharp edge.  A rock was was not willing to move, budge or get out of the way.  She felt a sharp pain come through her foot.  She took a quick look and saw what she thought was a scrape.  So on her way she went.

The further in the swim she went, the sharper the pain became.  So sharp at times, she thought she was going to loose it.  She kept her cool, she knew this would not be a good thing.

Upon exiting the water she took a quick look and saw blood gushing out.  She knew she needed to get it looked at.  Along with the help of one of the race directors and our friend Charlene, she made it to the medical tent where the paramedics proceeded to clean it, tape it and bandage the two inch gash.

"I have to get going.  I have to continue."  She told them.  "You're going ahead with the race?"  They asked in disbelief.  "Yes, I am" she quickly replied.

She found her way to transition and to the bike.  And off she went.  The pain at times was so fierce that she had to stop to catch her breath.  She could feel the swelling of her foot and could see her bike shoe stained with blood.  But there was a race to finish.

On to the run.  A slight relief when she changed from her bike shoe to her running shoe.  The running shoe has a bit more of a give.  It wasn't so tight.

As I was coming in from the run, she was going out.  I high-fived her and encouraged her on.  I had no idea what had happened.  I just knew that my wife was about to complete her triathlon.

Several of us waited for her at the finish line.  But she wouldn't come.  I was concerned because it was taking more than I thought is should.  So I went looking for her.  When I found her about a quarter of a mile from the finish line, I just gave her two thumbs up.  But as I approached her, the look on her face told me something was just not right.

When I made it to her, she broke out in tears.  Immediately she told me to look at her shoe.  It was soaked in blood.  She told me she had been cut in the swim.  I could tell the pain was beyond anything I could comprehend.  I ran next to her until almost the finish line.  Then I got out of the way and let her cross it alone.  The glory was to be hers and hers alone.

We went to the emergency room a couple of hours thereafter.  The nurses and doctors could not believe that she had done what she had done with the cut she had.

The courage, the determination, the strength, the fortitude, the power of mind over matter that my wife exhibited during this race is something that I will draw from every day of the rest of my life.  Nothing that I will ever encounter, nothing that is ever tossed my way will be difficult to overcome if I just think of this particular day and this amazing woman... this woman who just happens to be my wife!


  1. I am in tears Mauricio...You and Monica are such sweet people. Kudos to Monica for her endurance through her pain and to you for recognizing that, supporting her and loving her. How lucky you two are. :-)

  2. Charlene, how sweet of you, now I am crying again.
    And yes you are right, we are very lucky!!

  3. That is such an inspirational story! It goes soo far beyond triathalons and sports in general. If more people had that kind of determination and fortitude the world would be a much better place.

    Awesome post! I love the blog!

  4. I'm a first time visitor to your blog and this first post is the sweetest thing ever! ... I hope your wife is recovering from her injury!?

  5. Hey i had fun reading this post! I like it! :)

  6. Great story of determination and the will to finish a job started! Congrats!!