Learning (to let go) the hard way

I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know when it all started, the specific moment when things started falling apart. All I know is that now we are in crisis mode and I’m afraid that we can’t put it all back together in one piece.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but I took a week off of writing last week. It wasn’t intentional. The previous week my son brought home a paper to sign up for honors band several hours away out of state. I hastily made arrangements. I cancelled plans and found someone to work for me so I could take him. I thought that maybe this was all he needed to get back into wanting to go to college for music. But I was wrong.

You may remember back in September that we toured a college for music and then a week later Alex dropped out of band. After talking to the teacher, he decided not to drop out of band. Now he got kicked out of band, but I am getting ahead of myself in the story.

I thought this would be a good mother-son road trip, a time of bonding. Two days before leaving, Alex said he didn’t want to go because he would be missing a party a friend was hosting because a couple more friends turned 18. I was unsure whether or not we would actually go, but we went.

I dropped him off the next morning full of hope. I picked him up a couple of hours later full of dread. He didn’t like it so he just walked out. His teacher called me angry. I literally felt sick to my stomach because I was so stressed out. What was I going to do? I just wanted to go home. But Paul was so angry that he would’ve kicked Alex out. Plus I spent a lot of money to rent a cabin and it was a really long drive home.

Instead I decided to stay. I spent the weekend talking to Alex. He opened up to me and for awhile I felt like everything was going to be okay.

On Monday morning, I talked to Paul. I told him that we needed to have more fun and let go. Life is just not fun anymore. To be honest, I’ve been feeling so depressed that I didn’t want to do anything that helps me deal with my stress. I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to run. Putting one step in front of the other seemed like it would consume too much energy.

Later on Monday, we got a call from the school. Tuesday we met with the principal and dean of students. Alex is getting kicked out of band. He is also failing 2 other classes and may not graduate. He was suspended several days for being tardy, but at least he is still going to school.

We have just been beside ourselves for the last week trying to cope. We are going to be meeting with the school counselor and even set up an appointment with a regular counselor to help our son. The good news is that our son is talking to both of us. Paul and I have been taking turns talking to him. For awhile we think he will be okay and then we are filled with anger and despair.

Alex now has a dream to go into business. We are trying to keep that dream alive to motivate him. But it has been hard. Paul’s blood pressure has been sky high. I’m afraid to stress him out any more than he already is. I have been having stomachaches. Plus I have been struggling with depression. All the things that help me cope healthily I want to push away.

I feel very anxious and panic when I hear the phone ring. I have become paranoid that something bad is going to happen to him. I am not at peace in my life right now. I think people view us as crappy parents. But we are trying everything in our power to help our son succeed. We are trusting that God has a plan for him.

I am trying to take care of myself so I can help him. He is 18. Isn’t my job over? Is this why letting go of children into adulthood is so hard? Why do I feel like I am sending a two year old out to play in traffic? Is any of this normal?? He wants to leave, but he is just not ready. It’s so hard to let go when the future is uncertain. I will be able to do that a little easier once he graduates, if he graduates. Right now I want to fix and control.

I have to learn to let go even if things don’t go the way I want them to.

 

I am the problem?

Okay, I have something that I have to admit. I didn’t vote last week.

I apparently am the problem within my state and country right now.

But wait, before you unfollow…I have an excuse. Gum disease. You heard me right.

Monday I had my regularly scheduled dental check up. For the record, I think that dentists and everyone associated with the dental field are sadists. They seem to take great joy in my pain. And if the dental procedure doesn’t hurt, the bill sure will.

Back to Monday, the hygenist told me that I needed to come in as soon as possible for a deep cleaning. I scheduled an appointment for the following day over the lunch hour.

So when Tuesday rolled around, I went to the gym in the morning to work out. After that, I hurried off to work so I could leave early for the dentist.

After 20 minutes of painful drilling, I asked the hygenist what I did wrong. She said that gum disease is caused by poor hygiene. I pleaded that I floss several times a week and brush several times a day. I argued my innocence like a convicted felon who was incarcerated for a crime never commited. Paul said that everyone probably says they have good hygiene even if they don’t.

Really, is there a wrong way to floss??

Gum disease could also be cause by stress and hormones and I am sticking to it.

I got poked, prodded, and slapped with a $200 bill.

For a couple of hours after the appointment, I felt like crap. I don’t know if I’m getting an ulcer or if it was the aftermath of the extreme anxiety I feel towards dentists.

I went back to work with the idea that I would leave early to vote. That didn’t work out because we had an employee call in so I had to stay late.

I barely made it home in time to eat something before play practice. How could I go vote?

We just moved and I couldn’t find any mail sitting around associated with my name and new address. Plus the cars outside of where I would vote were lined up into the next county. How could I zip in and out before my next time committment??

So I didn’t vote. I am the problem with this country right now. Good intentions don’t count as a ballot. Might as well blame it on the dentist. Yeah, why not??

 

Luke’s visit, part 4

When we were young, my dad was a very cruel man. He is not like that anymore.

Luke said what terrified him the most was the train. It was one of his earliest memories. He remembers dad inching closer and closer to the tracks while the train was passing. He hid crying in the back window of the car as my dad and brother Mark laughed. He said I wasn’t there.

I don’t remember this being an isolated incident. I was there. I almost forgot about this. The train did not terrify me. I liked to wave at the man in the caboose when mom took us on walks. As kids, we lived near the railroad tracks. I found the sound of the train’s whistle to be rather soothing at night. We even saw a train derail in our lifetime, but not on those tracks.

I remember my dad doing other things like crossing the tracks right before the train passed. But I think he found much more satisfaction in waiting for the train to pass. He inched closer and closer until the front of the car seemed to kiss the side of the train car.

If you get really close to a train, it is squeaky and loud. The cars teeter and rock back and forth making an awful grating noise. Sparks fly. It seems like it could come off the tracks at any moment and destroy the car in a big ball of fire. My dad took the opportunity to scare Luke or any of us whenever he had the chance. I remember this happening several times with the train. I was there, but Luke does not remember that.

We couldn’t comfort our terrified sibling otherwise it would probably be our turn next. Compassion and empathy were not rewarded. In fact, they were more of a weakness. Laughter was probably the safest response. If you laughed or acted like it didn’t scare you, he wouldn’t do that to you. I often responded with no response. But Luke was terrified and I think he was too little to hide it.

My dad did other things to scare us in the car. He drove fast and laughed at us if we tried to put on our seat belts. He drove fast over hills. He would taunt us by saying that he had no idea what could be waiting on the other side of the hill. I was big enough to see out of the window, maybe they weren’t. There could be a family walking on the other side of the hill….a dog…another car and he wouldn’t be able to stop from hitting whatever could be on the other side. Sometimes he would drive up hills on the wrong side of the road.

I’ve had nightmares about him driving fast or going up steep hills not knowing what could be on the other side. I think it was also the root of my struggles with a fear of driving, especially hills. I was afraid of hurting someone. I was afraid of not having control over that. I couldn’t see what was ahead of me.

Today I am obsessed with conquering my fears. If the fear wins, so does my dad.

I built a big wall around myself. I have a thick shell. But maybe somewhere inside is that little girl who is kind and caring.

I don’t think that my mom even knew about the things our dad did when she wasn’t around.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #12

Fearless courage is the foundation of victory.

I have a lot of fears.

It would probably be easier making a list of things I am not afraid of.

Ironically, I am not afraid of confronting my fears.

But I think that has more to do with my fear of letting fear control me.

Does that make me courageous?

There was a time when driving on the highway would fill me with extreme anxiety. I was fine one minute, then the next I was filled with panic. The tunnel vision would start. Blackness slowly enveloped me until I couldn’t see the cars around me. I started sweating profusely. I had to open the car windows even if it was in the dead of winter. The noise from the radio became really loud. I needed silence. I had to slow down. I had to get off the highway or I was going to die. I muttered frightened prayers. I had to keep breathing..

For years, I dealt with this…the panic attacks out of the blue while driving. For a long time, I could only drive from one entrance ramp to the next exit. I felt like a complete failure every time I had to get off the highway as my body shook and trembled uncontrollably with fear.

I kept at it though. It was a very long process of celebrating small victories. At first, it was driving on the highway and making it past two exits. I’m not sure how the fear started in the first place. I was never in an accident. I think it had to do more with feeling tired. I suffered a bit from highway hypnosis. I was afraid that I would fall asleep and kill someone. I had fallen asleep while driving before. Coffee only made things worse. Instead of being awake and focused, it made me jittery and nervous.

I am the type of person that has a hard time sitting down and not being preoccupied without falling asleep. I can fall asleep during the best movies, but sometimes have trouble staying asleep at night. Why??

When I started feeling groggy while driving, I would go into hyper alert mode and start feeling anxiety. After awhile I paired driving with anxiety and boy was that hard to break. I pretty much conquered that fear now. But I am still afraid of long distance highway driving. I’m afraid that it wouldn’t take much to unravel everything I did.

How can I follow my dreams of traveling the world if I am terrified by almost every mode of travel?? I had to keep doing it even if I was afraid. I have to keep driving. I have to keep flying. Nothing conquers the fear of flying more than booking a flight half way around the world. Trust me! I was terrified more about the prospect of a 20 hour flight than I actually was doing it. It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be.

Last summer I was utterly terrified to complete my first Half Iron. It seemed insurmountable as I watched the huge waves pound the shore. My legs felt like rubber on the bike. But after I finished, I felt unbelievably victorious. It was such an accomplishment for me.

This summer I signed up for my first trail marathon through the bluffs. I will be sleeping the weekend of the race in a tent. I have no doubt that this is going to be very challenging. Running a marathon over hilly terrain after a sleepless night in a tent will not be a piece of cake. I am afraid.

I will be doing this for my birthday. Why I can’t just get drunk and feel like crap the normal Wisconsin way is beyond me…

I know that if I can do this, it will take the cake as the best birthday ever!

I have a lot of fears, but I am willing to fight them.

If fearless courage is the foundation of victory…I don’t think you can have courage without being afraid of something first. The trick is not letting fear win.

 

Blizzard blues

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It’s the third day of the blizzard now.

Yesterday it took my husband and son 4 hours to shovel out the driveway.

It is very likely that we are going to break the record of the biggest blizzard ever recorded in Wisconsin. This is the biggest snowstorm I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. By the time it is all said and done, we should have at least 3 ft of snow on the ground.

We have 30 mph sustained winds with gusts around 50 mph. It sounds like a freight train out there. Or maybe the roar of waves during a storm.

I awoke during the night to what sounded like distant sirens. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think I’ve heard it before, the howling wail.

I felt anxiety earlier in the day. Saturday is my long run day. I have a hard time with forced relaxation and sitting still. I finished my jigsaw puzzle, did a couple loads of laundry, and cleaned the kitchen.

Last night we received notification that there was an emergency code red. There is a tow ban, which means if you get stuck you won’t be getting out. We could get ticketed for going out. The roads are open for emergency only.

I had a hard time winding down to go to sleep because I felt the panic of being trapped surge within me. I was exhausted, but anxious and worried at the same time.

Isn’t it strange how anxiety works? I felt utterly exhausted, but had this useless nervous energy that wouldn’t let me relax and go to sleep. It would be great if I could write brilliant words or something along those lines. It is good for nothing, except running which I couldn’t do. The gym was closed.

I feel better with the morning light. Maybe it is good sometimes to try to relax, even if it is something I am not good at.

I’ve decided to take photos and document the biggest blizzard I will probably see in my lifetime. I will share the best with you after this storm is done.

Until then, I don’t want to hear anybody complain about how hot it is. I don’t want to see pictures of smiling people in shorts next to flowers.

I guess you could say I have the blizzard blues. Maybe I should write a song about it, I have enough time. School will probably be closed tomorrow. I doubt I will be able to get to work.

I might have enough time to dust off my summer clothes. Maybe I could crank the furnace to 80 and set up a beach towel on the carpet.

Or maybe I should cut down the snowy pine and call it Christmas.

I’m sick with spring fever. I’m going stir crazy.

The (guilty) party

A couple of months ago, I shared with you the story of how my son was involved in an underage drinking party at a friend’s cabin. The problem was that his friend wasn’t there. She was supposed to go but got busted with alcohol by her parents before she even left the house. My son, the driver, was sitting with a car full of teens at a gas station waiting for her.

My son received a text stating that she could no longer go. It would have been reasonable to turn around at this point and head towards home. But she told them to go without her. Maybe she would show up later. She also texted them explaining how to get into the cabin if it was locked and where to find the alcohol.

My son, his friends, and a dozen other teens that he didn’t know showed up for the weekend to party. As you can imagine with a cabin full of teenagers without the owner there, there was a general lack of regard for the property. The problem was that the girl’s parents didn’t even own the property, her grandma did.

They left the cabin that weekend with cigarette burns and blood on the carpet, a broken water pump, broken glass, and vulgar images drawn on the wall.

We received a call from the girl’s dad, a friend of a mutual friend, a few days later. We were very upset and had a long conversation with our son about his misdeeds. We grounded him and cooperated with the parents.

This past weekend my husband, son, and a few of his friends had a meeting with this girl’s dad, uncle, and grandma. I did not attend as I was out of town with Angel for her singing competition. I was very anxious about the meeting. I waited by the phone in sheer panic…feeling excited for my daughter and feeling anxious about my son.

When Paul called, he said that the grandma was a very kind lady but spoke sternly about how she felt violated having strangers invade her cabin. She asked my son what happened that weekend and he told her.

They also wanted a total of $4,000 for damages incurred. Paul paid our son’s share. They wanted Alex to collect the money from everyone that was there, but he didn’t know some of the kids. So the group of friends that Alex had there said they would tell the others they knew were there and would have them send the money. So far no one is stepping up and taking responsibility for their kids.

The problem was that no one told their parents about the party except Baylee. One of the guys had a summer job and wanted to pay his share without telling his parents. Trunk boy told his mom and she thought it was some sort of scam. Trunk boy was the guy that rode in the trunk of my son’s car and his mom showed up at our door to complain that my son didn’t give her son enough rides. Trunk boy’s mom is psycho and I don’t want her at my door again.

My son’s girlfriend Baylee’s parents didn’t want to pay either. They said that Baylee didn’t do anything wrong. She didn’t drink. She was simply there to babysit. I believe that is true. My son is such an adrenaline junkie with his cliff diving, motorcycle riding, and other risky things I know nothing about. He is a daredevil and leader. He would be the first to try something stupid or adventurous. He told me that he would tell me someday about everything that he has done, but I really don’t want to know. Baylee is his only voice of reason.

The other friends parents simply won’t be able to afford to pay, especially now during the holiday season. There are some that simply don’t care about doing the right thing.

I don’t think that this family will get the money they want. I would do things so differently. I would start with writing a persuasive letter addressed to the parents of so and so. I would say that I wanted x money by x date. I would include a copy of the police report. I would further state if the money is not received by x date, that they will be hearing from my lawyer which might include criminal charges.

Thankfully my child wasn’t dumb enough to throw a party at his grandma’s cabin. As far as I am concerned, this whole issue is resolved now. I don’t think they will ever get their money, but we paid for our share.

drive

I had a busy weekend.

Paul and I left home early Saturday morning to set up a booth at a trade show. After a couple hours of working, we drove a couple more hours to see Angel at college. We arrived to see her a couple hours before her show. We haven’t seen her since we dropped her off at college in August.

There were some repercussions of leaving home earlier than the kids. Thankfully this time though it did not require a new bathroom floor. It was more along the lines of them thinking that they could both take a shower when it was time to leave to meet up with my mom. They were late and there was tension. Not to mention that things were forgotten.

Thankfully everything else went according to my plan. We were able to get at the restaurant early enough to get a table for 14 people and make it to the show on time. Angel had a lead role in the college opera and would be on stage for the first half hour only. If things went off rail, we could miss her part entirely. Several friends and family drove several hours to get there, got a hotel room, and some had to get a babysitter. Needless to say, a few minutes off on my time management could’ve been a huge disaster.

The show was awesome. Watching your child perform at a high level is very close to performing yourself. It is anxiety provoking, yet exhilarating. I was able to visit with Angel the next morning before she had to perform again. Then came the long ride home.

At 10AM, I dropped Paul off at the local airport. He had a business meeting. Instead of driving the 4 hours home and flying out, I decided it would be quicker for him to fly out where we were. Just 2 connecting flights and 10 hours later, he reached his destination.

I had to make the drive back with Arabella. I almost had a panic attack after I dropped Paul off at the airport before visiting Angel. It was a unseasonably warm and sunny day. Pedestrians and bikers were everywhere. Not to mention road construction and heavy traffic. I kept getting notifications on my phone for the flight which covered my navigation. I think I went through a red light since I was so flustered.

If you told me 5 years ago that I would be driving 4 hours without another driver in my car, I would’ve told you that you are crazy. I used to have panic attacks while driving. It would happen out of the blue. First, I would sweat profusely. I had to open my windows, even in the middle of winter. I couldn’t breath. I needed air, fresh air. Then the tunnel vision would hit. I would have to slow down. I’m sure that I swerved around a lot. I thought I would die or worse yet kill someone else on the road. I had to pull over at the first exit. My whole body would shake.

It was a horrifying experience. But I would not let fear control me. I forced myself to go back on the highway. Even if it was from one on ramp to the next off ramp. It was grueling and tedious. I wasn’t sure if I could even conquer my fear. But I had to put myself out there again and again or I wouldn’t be able to leave the house unless someone else would drive me. I felt feelings of failure when I could only drive a couple of miles from my house without panicking. But I kept at it and now I can say that I am almost completely able to drive without panic attacks.

I am also one of those annoying people that can’t seem to sit still. If I sit down without anything to occupy my mind, I will probably fall asleep. If the movie is not great, I fall asleep and I fall asleep sometimes even if it is.

Did I mention that I didn’t sleep that great in the hotel room?

I have fallen asleep while driving before. After about 2 hours on the road, I was starting to drift off. I knew this was happening because a stationary object bounced out into my vision. I think it was a garage. This has happened before when I was really tired.

Typically when Paul is tired, he can pull over for a cup of coffee. He instantly is energized and can drive for hours. It doesn’t work for me. Extra coffee makes me jittery and anxious while driving…more likely to have a panic attack.

I looked over at my passenger, Arabella, who was sound asleep. Did I want to wake her? Then I remembered our conversations in the car over this past week week…Mom, how old were you when you first had sex?? Were you in high school? College?? The interrogation went something like that…Ah, better just let her sleep.

I pulled it together and got us home safely. I knew I had no other choice. It was a great weekend, but long….very long, especially the drive.

 

Heading to Orlando

I printed off our boarding passes this afternoon….we are headed to Orlando. The best part is that we will be meeting up with some good friends for a few days at Disney before the business part of the trip.

I got the feeling that we might be traveling on Sunday despite the hurricane. My daughter Arabella said that she was starting to feel sick. She is the kid that has gotten strep the last couple of times we left home without her.

That was a good(?) sign we were heading out of town.

Arabella had me take her temperature this morning. It was normal. She is a little congested, but that is all. I did feel really frustrated with her at first.

But instead of being angry, I decided to talk to her about…gasp…feelings.. She admitted to feeling afraid when I leave. It is touching that she feels that way in high school, but I am starting to worry about college. Will she be the kid that ends up living in my basement?? I was betting on the music majors…hmm…maybe I got this all wrong..

She is worried that I will die. Too tell you the truth, I worry about that every time I step on an airplane. So of course I had to book my first trip out of the continent to Asia. Nothing like a 22 hour flight to conquer my fear of flying!

Thank God for the little white pills that keep me from having a 3 hour long panic attack on a plane.

(Oh my gosh, I’m going to be flying 22 hours soon!!!!).

As for today, I am excited to go to Florida. Maybe I will have a few pictures to share when I get back…

Epic sail (epic fail)

It started out calm the way troublesome days sometimes do without a hint or foreboding of danger in the air.

It was a clear, sunny day. It was warm, but not breezy.

We had to motor for the first hour before it was even windy enough to put up our sails.

Our destination: A beautiful resort in Door County.

We had passengers with us. Our pastor surprised his wife with an overnight stay at the resort for their anniversary. Romance. A nice quiet sail there and back, or so we thought.

We were all in for a surprise.

A storm popped up on the bay. We had the foresight to take down our sails before it hit. It wasn’t a strong storm, but it produced 10 minutes of heavy rain. It was our first storm. We huddled below as Paul steered the boat. He barely had enough time to throw on his raincoat. I discovered that I forgot mine.

It wasn’t the storm that created the most difficulties. It was the aftermath. The temperature dropped 20 degrees. The winds picked up to 20 mph. Then we had to fight against 6 foot waves.

At first it was kind of fun like being in a giant wave pool. Every tenth wave was gigantic and would crash against the bow soaking us. We laughed, listened to music, and jokingly talked about dying.

After the first hour, things weren’t fun anymore.

The coast guard came on the emergency radio warning boaters of a 22 ft sinking boat partially submerged in water near but not in our path. We were worried about getting off course. It was starting to get late in the afternoon. We used up a lot of gas motoring against the waves.

If we didn’t make the harbor, we might hit the sinking boat.

Things did get rough when we had to hit the waves sideways. Everything that wasn’t tied down flew everywhere. People bounced around like there wasn’t gravity. Even the carpet didn’t stay. The pastor dry heaved into the garbage while I was knocked to the ground.

Paul was hollering from the deck that his waterproof case on his phone gave out. We no longer had our navigation once his phone died. But Paul knew the rest of the way. We were almost there..

I laid on the floor thinking that I was going to die. It felt hopeless really. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t snap out of the panic. I made it my mission to find all of the life jackets. I had to keep my mind from shutting down.

We never have been in waters like that before although Paul calmly told the pastor’s wife that we do this kind of thing all of the time.

Three hours of rough waters and Paul got us to shore safely. I am so proud of him. It wasn’t easy.

Once we got close to shore and things settled down I noticed that Paul and the pastor’s wife were completely soaked and shivering. Almost everything was wet. I found whatever I could find that was dry to keep them warm. The pastor’s wife huddled in the spider ridden sail cover.

We were all freezing cold in July. We were all feeling sick. We weren’t able to get the bumpers out. I was able to tie a line and had to jump on the dock quickly as the motor died out when we found the nearest empty slip.

The pastor’s wife started throwing up once we got to shore. She was so sick that she wasn’t able to join us for supper.

After 3 hours of intense waves, I felt panicky like I do with turbulence on an airplane. It was an awful feeling. I also felt sad. I thought about death, how things could’ve gone terribly wrong and we could’ve died. I thought a lot about my grandma. It stirred up strange unexpected raw emotions of grief and anxiety within me that I find hard to explain. I felt empty, hollow, alone, and frightened…

For the last two weekends I battled death in the grueling waters of Door County. First under the dangerous swimming conditions for the Half Ironman. Then this weekend, 3 hours of sailing in very rough waters. I want to think that I won’t have to face this again. I didn’t enjoy my brush with death very much. But I already committed to sailing for a whole week next week with Paul and some other sailors to the tip of Door County through Death’s Door.

To be continued…

 

My first Half Ironman

swimming

I finished my first Half Ironman and ordered my 70.3 bumper sticker..I really wasn’t sure I would make it.

When I woke up the morning of the race, the water looked a little like this:

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Well, not exactly…the race was held at this park, however I took this picture in November. In this picture, there was a strong west wind. During the race, there was a strong north wind which meant that the waves would start pounding us at the end of the pier. Then if we could make it past the pier, we had to swim against the waves to the first buoy. If we could make it to the first buoy, we could let the waves rock us back to shore.

Due to a small craft warning, upon arrival I received the news that the swim would be shortened due to treacherous conditions. The swim went from 1.2 miles to 0.25 miles. I cried tears of joy and cancelled the mental list of loved ones whom I would give all of my running medals my prized earthly possessions to. Nevertheless, even with the shortened swim, about 5% of competitors got pulled.

race 4

Here is my wave waiting in the calmer waters on the left of the pier. I tried not to watch the waves before us getting hit by huge wave surges after the pier. Lifeguards on jet skis were pulling people out of the water. I think the lady next to me was about ready to have a panic attack. She was muttering anxiously to herself. I felt like we were cattle waiting for the slaughter house truck.

The horn sounded. We swam together in a clump towards the end of the pier. People kicked and clawed their way through only to be hit by a huge wave surge at the end of the pier. There was a collective roller coaster ride scream as we were hit by a giant wave. I gulped down several mouthfuls of water and choked.

My husband’s words right before the race became my mantra…water is my friend…I love water..

I reached out to the lifeguard in the water that had a flotation device. She said calming words. I stayed until I stopped choking. The lady next to me had a full blown panic attack and had to be pulled out of the water.

I felt like I was in a wave pool except I couldn’t quite see where I was and I couldn’t touch the ground.

Thankfully I made it past the first race buoy and let the 4 foot waves push me back to shore. It was rather nauseating being raised to great heights then dropped.

SWIM!

I was so happy to make it through the swim alive.

I was still shaking as I was riding my bike 15 miles later. I could’ve drowned kept splashing through my mind. I was finally able to calm down a little but still felt shaken. I decided to make one stop halfway through the bike route to hydrate. I didn’t feel like I could keep my balance if I grabbed water while biking.

The bike route was very scenic and pleasant despite the rolling hills at the end. We went through small towns along the bay of Lake Michigan. I saw deer in fields and sailboats in marinas.

It wasn’t until the last 10 miles that things got to be grueling. The end of the route was uphill against the strong north winds. I tried to say comforting words as I saw a My Team Triumph team struggle up a big hill. I felt like quitting then.

Plus I never biked over 45 miles before. There’s that.

I passed the last water stop, regretfully not stopping. With a few miles left, I got a bad side cramp and my knee started to hurt. I felt a little lightheaded, but kept going.

How was I going to run 13.1 miles? Maybe I should stop, but I pressed on.

Near the end, I prematurely unclipped my bike shoes. I was told to keep going until I was ready to pass the race mat. I accidentally clipped my shoe back in when I was supposed to dismount and almost fell.

Thankfully, somehow, I managed to avoid drowning and a bike crash all in one day.

The first few miles of the run I focused on hydrating myself. Thankfully the cramps were gone, but I started feeling a little sick… I found myself having to run several times to the bathroom. That really motivated me to get running! I didn’t take any Gu because I felt like I was going to throw up. I spent the rest of the run doing a walk/run combo.

There was an area of the race where there were runners on both sides of the road running in opposite directions. The road wasn’t closed to traffic, so it was very busy. Most of the motorists honked, waved, or cheered out the windows to racers.

Every single volunteer was eager to please with a smile on their face. No one looked bored or like they were waiting for it to be over so they could go home. They asked if I was okay and if I needed something every single time. Did they recruit Walmart greeters??

This was the best run race I have ever been in.

As I was reaching the end, my friend Cori was waiting for me. She hugged and kissed me through her falling tears. Then she told me how proud of me she was and how much she loved me.

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I didn’t know how emotional this race could be. I found my friends, my husband, and myself in tears unexpectedly. People who rarely cried were struck with emotion. I felt like it was one of the biggest accomplishments in my life. I overcame my obstacles. I struggled and prevailed.

finish

I crossed the finish line!