June 24, 2009

Gut check at the Gallup triathlon

On June 13th 2009 I competed in the 3rd annual Gallup triathlon. I'd completed in this race 2 years ago on it's inaugural year, but had 2 flat tires a mile from the end of the bike. I ran the last mile of my bike that day so I could finish, but since I had to run the last mile I had a poor finishing time. I showed up this year hoping to redeem myself.
Now first off I absolutely love this triathlon. The only knock against it is that it's an indoor pool swim. I had a GREAT swim, finishing in 6 minutes 26 seconds & recording the 7th fastest swim of the day. The bike leg is pretty difficult. It's a very hilly out & back 12.2 miler. On the first half of the bike I was SCREAMING FAST! I was averaging almost 20 miles an hour, which for a mountainous course like that is very very fast. By the turn around portion of the bike I had passed a bunch of athletes I'd never even come close to finishing near. I knew I was having one of the best races of my life! At the half way point I heard the tell-tale & dreaded pst-pst-pst of another flat tire. This year I was racing on tubular tires which are much more difficult to puncture so I didn't race with a spare. With no spare tire it was pointless to finish because I'd have to push my bike the remaining 6 miles, but there's not an ounce of quit in this body. Not one ounce! I'd rather die attempting to finish a triathlon than say the course was stronger than me. So I started the long run back to the bike finish. Once I got to the end of the bike leg I was still needing to finish the 3.2 mile run. Even with the great times I put up in the swim & the 1st half of the bike there were 2 things that were certain-
1) I'd be finishing in dead last place today.
2) I'd finish. I've never been the best at anything I've done, but I've rarely seen anyone else who has the determination level that I do. 10 years ago while working as a correctional officer I got jumped unexpectedly by an inmate. He was much stronger & faster than me, plus he had the element of surprise. I'd be lying if I dint say he beat the snot out of me. The next day I showed up to work despite having loose teeth, & having lips that were so badly split & swollen they looked like hamburger, one of my eyes was almost swollen shut, & one of my ears was swollen with what could have ended up as cauliflower ear, yet I still worked an entire shift in that same cell block. At the beginning of my shift my supervisor told me to go to the hospital or home, but I refused. I don't quit, not for any reason. Period. No matter what the odds or the conditions, I do my best. I couldn't control if I had a flat. But I COULD control if the flat sent me home having not given my all. By the end of the run my bike cleats were nothing but nubs. Replacing the cleats would be costly, & my wife & I don't have much spare cash. I knew that when I started running with my bike & in my cycling shoes, but I didn't care. I had one goal in mind. Finishing. & finish I did. The bike ended up taking me two hours eleven minutes. When I started the run I assumed the race director would have pulled all the volunteers who would tell me which way to go at each turn. But even after all that time they were there clapping & showing their support. That the RD kept the volunteers out there that long is rare in triathlons & another reason why this race is worth doing. I was having a very fast run. If there was anyone left on the course I was determined to catch them. Of course there wasn't anyone left running but me, but I didn't drop my effort level one iota. I ran just as hard as I would have if I was winning. At the 2 mile mark of the run it dawned on me that it was only 2 weeks from the anniversary of my Step Dad's death. He was an amazing man & he taught me much about life. He had told me many things that if I applied to my life would make me successful. The one thing he never had to tell me was to be strong. To never give up regardless of how big or small the task at hand, & to fight for what I love & believe in. He never had to tell me that because he lived it. He was a shining example of how powerful a man could be & how deep of a well of strength a man who refuses to give up could call upon. He never had to tell me this because he showed me by example how to be strong each & every day of his life, even on his last. As I ran I realized that he was the only other person who would have continued to race on even though it was pointless to do so. He wouldn't have quit, & I didn't quit. As I ran my eyes flowed over with tears and they fell to mix with the sweat of strain, yet I continued to run with all my strength. At that moment I was no longer just running for myself. I was running as a tribute to the way he lived his life, & even to the way he died. With inner strength, pride, & perseverance. I never saw him quit at anything. Ever. As I ran I realized that if God was allowing my Dad to watch my performance from heaven, he'd be proud. I ran that day for all I was worth. I finished in last place, but I didn't finish alone. Bob Foster's example was there to lead the way.


skoshi said...

Whew, Cody--always inspirational!
I've finished last in races before--and not because I had a flat tire.
What a way to hang in there.
I hope they gave you the Caboose award!

Anonymous said...

Cody, you can ride a flat tubular. It ruins the tire, but as long as you are careful in the turns, it will stay on the rim. Beats running in bike shoes. Also, try Stan's in you tires.

Anonymous said...

Cody..amazing story. I was moved by ti and am glad U shared it with us. I'll definitely be using you as inspiration and motivation.

Keep it up!!

Mark said...

Wow..great post. Inspirational..they better look out at the next race!!!