Monica Helmstetter wrote:
#SpasPushingLimits is a group of enthusiastic and highly motivated spa professionals who wants to challenge themselves by participating in moderate to difficult fitness events, while raising funds for varies non-profit organizations and charities!
This year we are participating in the Half Ironman 70.3 Boulder on August 4th. We have teammmates racing individually and teammates partnering by forming relay teams. For our fundraiser, we are proud to partner with Wellness for Cancer, a non-profit organization that is created to facilitate self care and better lifestyle choices for individuals who have been touched by cancer.
I put the “Try” in Tri-athlete
A year ago, I had never sat on a road bike. I was deeply suspicious of people in too much Spandex. I had never run more than the occasional 5K - and ‘running’ should be considered a gross exaggeration. I also had not swam since grade school and enjoy a very solid phobia of water in general. So it seemed like a perfectly good idea to take part in a Sprint Triathlon.
I happened upon Tri for the Cure in Denver – an all-women race that welcomed cancer survivors and beginner triathletes. With cancer being so prevalent in my family and circle of friends, it seemed like a fitting cause to race for. I took the permanent marker that they used to write my race number on me, and wrote the names of the people I was racing for on my feet (my Grandfather who passed, my Aunts who have fought cancer many times over, my friend who continues to fight it), so that I would see them during the swim, and be reminded of why I was in this madness. I backstroked through the swim (it was the only stroke I knew), to the collective horror of the athletes around me. I requested what that race called a “Swim Angel” – who beat rather vigorously with a noodle anyone who came too close to me. The bike course was short and flat – but I was struggling. The 73-year old cancer survivor (whom I had met pre-race) that casually pedaled past my panting, sweating self at one point, actually asked if I was going to be OK. I managed to transition to the run, a 5K that started with a hill (who DOES that to people?!), and found myself actually running. In fact, I ran my fastest 5K ever – even to this day. I realized towards the end of the run what was happening – since I could not understand how I was still moving, much less moving quickly. It was not by my strength, and certainly not even by my feet that I finished that first Triathlon. It was those names on my feet.
A month later, when I found out my little sister was deploying, I realized I had to do something seriously hard, possibly crazy, and completely out of my realm of comfort – in order to do something to honor her courage, resilience, selflessness, sacrifice and service. My little sister, is literally and figuratively an absolute Boss in the US Army. She also had to leave behind two beautiful little children, and a really surprisingly delightful husband (love you D!). So a half-Ironman fit the bill.
I think the coach that I started working with shortly thereafter MUST have had misgivings. An 'athlete' who doesn’t actually know how to swim, bike or run wants to complete a Half-Ironman? Sure, that sounds sane.
But do not underestimate a woman with a mission - who is armed with the world's best and most patient coach. (Looking at you Tom MacPherson). Nine months later, I apprehensively and with many misgivings (still!) am 10 days away from starting this 70.3 mile race. I now know how to swim crawl, and can even do so for longer than 25 meters – which is all I could manage a few months ago. My coach has pushed, coaxed, cringed and praised me through 9 months of training – through bronchitis, festive season in hospitality (equivalent in many ways to purgatory), a massive wildfire, evacuation, lingering smoke - and life in general.
I have no idea if I can finish this race. All I can think of now, is the darling face of my sister’s six-year old son who will be at the finish line – and that I can’t fathom disappointing him.
Monica Helmstetter, whose heart is boundless, selected a fund for this race that sends people suffering from cancer to self-care retreats. It’s focused on individuals who work in the spa industry, because while they are extraordinary care-givers, they are notoriously bad at caring for themselves.
So once more, even though I race these many miles to honor my little sister, the cause is to alleviate the devastation that cancer brings to too many lives. If we can make it just the tiniest bit better, we will do so – in my little sister’s words - one stroke, one pedal, one step at a time.