“Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.” ~ Karen Ravn
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~ John Quincy Adams
Through the journey of life there are some moments that help define you as a person and make you look deep into yourself and learn more about the person you are and the person you want to be. Ultraman Canada was a defining moment in my journey and I was fortunate enough to share it with my Dad and two sisters, Carrie and Heather, as well as the amazing people who put on this special event, the volunteers and the 38 other athletes and their crew. Memorable is an understatement. Etched in my memory, heart and soul for a lifetime best describes it.
The calm before the storm: The nice thing about Penticton, BC is the absolute beauty of the land. The four of us soaked in the stunning wine country that we were surrounded by. Oh, we also talked a lot about crew duties and went over the 350 questions Carrie accumulated! The most memorable moment was when they presented me with a book that had letters and words of encouragement from my family and friends. I cried a lot. It was simply perfect and those of you who took the time to write, your words stuck with me through the 3 days. I also received a letter from Chrissie Wellington (thanks T! GOTRIbal!).
Day 1 – 10K swim and 90 mile bike: Words can’t explain how lucky I was to be paired with the most amazing swim escort, Lynn Redmond, who was familiar with the course, how to navigate it and pretty much told me she was not going off course so to stay right by her side. Lynn gave me all the confidence in the world and I started day one enjoying every moment, soaking in the stunning landscape and calm water and just eased into the water by her side and swam for 3hr 46 min. Every time I would breath to my right I would see Lynn so calm and confident I never once doubted myself. I did stop at 3 hours and tell he I felt like my arms were going to fall off 🙂 She just yelled at me, “You are almost there! Keep swimming!” And so I did.
My sisters rocked the transition as Heather greeted Lynn to grab my garbage and ran to get my bike to the mount line and Carrie had to listen to my delirious self ask for my peanut butter and banana sandwich 10 times as she was trying to get me dressed for the bike. Sorry Carrie! The 90 mile bike was the hardest of all the stages as I was dehydrated, getting into the aero position was difficult after 10K of swimming, there was 4,000 ft of climbing and I felt bad for my crew as it is not an easy task and day 1 is the day of learning. But, they pulled through and got me out of some moments where I just needed to stop and regroup. I would have never made it without them.
Day 2 – 170 mile bike: This was the day I thought would challenge me the most. 170 miles, 5,300 feet of climbing, the images of “The Wall” that was the most difficult climb of the day and my favorite, headwind. Thanks to the amazing work of my crew the time flew by, I just kept my legs spinning, stayed hydrated, eased my way up the inclines (walked the tough part of “The Wall” :)), kept it smooth and steady into the 80 miles of headwind and only had one moment that I really needed my crew to get me out of the “dark place” and that was at mile 150 after 18 miles of the hardest false flats I had experienced. Earlier on they surprised me with M&Ms which I am forever grateful. Between the sweet snack, Carrie dancing in the street singing, “Tell Heather what you want what you really, really want,” Heather giving me what I wanted and my Dad telling me that if I did not have to stop so many times to pee I would have a better time…I just smiled and cruised the last 20 miles in and it felt good to cross that finish line!
Day 3 – 52.4 mile run: This was the day I was waiting for. The day I would have my sisters by my side running with me and getting me to the finish. I got to watch my Dad drive the mini-van by me like a bat out of he!! just to stop every half mile to see if I needed anything. Thanks Dad and sorry I had to pee 9 more times :). Heather and Carrie took turns pacing me every 10 miles starting at mile 5. They both participate in endurance events so they knew what was going through my head. They knew that when I did not reply I was focused and they just played the role of the silent partner. They ensured I had what I needed at every stop and told me to look down with my eyes when they knew the hard climbs were ahead. When we were at 3K+ elevation and I could not breathe they listened to my wispers and tried to translate so I got what I needed. Time: 08:40:20; Distance: 52.70 mi, Elevation Gain: 2,442 ft. I ran into the finishing shoot holding hands with my Dad, Carrie and Heather and I broke down in tears. We did it. We did it as a family. We accomplished our goal. We are closer because of it.
The Awards Banquet: In my speech I spoke of the importance of Family and the journey we took together. Without my support structure I am nothing. It was a team event and we worked together to reach a goal that may seem on the outside to be the goal of the Athlete but in reality to succeed the crew had to want it just as bad. Each year they give an “Ohona” award. Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family. It emphasizes that family are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another. There were some amazing Athletes and crews out there but I was so proud when then announced, “Team Smirnoff!” Dad, Carrie and Heather…I love you.