Finding Purpose: Summer Swim Team to Triathlon

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In the summer of 1982, I donned a blue swimsuit for the first time as a member of the Robinson-Bruton Blue Marlins. Apparently, I begged my parents to join the swim team after watching practices one afternoon. I was 5 years old and (by photo recollection) remember swimming freestyle and breaststroke that first season. It was something I looked forward to every summer – the neighborhood summer swim team. Ribbons upon ribbons filled up photo albums in no time. (Fortunately, all of my pictures are at my parents’ house.)

The memories are still vivid as I think of current day Facebook friends who swam with me on the team: Woody, Stacy, Karen, Jenny, and others. I recall eating jello right out of the package because that’s what the older kids were doing. I always thought it was funny seeing the color-dyed fingers on readying swimmers standing near the blocks. I moved to Yorktown in the middle of 4th grade, and knew that this one constant could still be a part of my childhood – the summer swim team – but now as an Edgehill Eel.

It was nice having something that felt so comfortable to help me meet new friends over the summer. I rode my bike every morning at 7:00 a.m. for practice and jumped in the pool like it was my job. I wasn’t the fastest swimmer but I could keep up. I loved the social aspect of swim meets and hanging out while cheering on my friends in close, tough races. Friends like Susan, Angie, and Heather were star swimmers and I was always mesmerized at their talent and strength.

I decided in my sophomore year of high school that I would quit the summer swim team, mostly because that summer was going to be taken up with a trip to Europe with my family, but I had other interests now. I don’t remember feeling sad or upset about not swimming anymore. I am grateful for those 11 years of summer swim team experience. I think it has helped to set the stage for this next great adventure.

In August 2011, I did my first sprint triathlon. Just like I did as a kid, I woke up early and headed over to Miller Park Pool to swim. I hadn’t been in the pool in 18 years (!!!) to swim laps. And boy, oh boy, was I rusty. I barely made it one length of the 50-m pool and hung desperately to the wall trying to regain my breath. It sucked. But I knew that if I was going to swim 400-m in any reputable amount of time, I was going to have to push through. I was somewhat pleased that after a while, my body seemed to remember how to do this thing called swimming. I was flip-turning and alternating breathing to both sides, and was going the distance with just a few weeks of practice.

The Pink Power Triathlon came and I jumped in the pool and took off. I quickly realized that swim seeds are not always accurate, as I caught up to not one but five women. I had to swim breaststroke until it was safe to pass. Finally at the end, I jumped out and ran my way to T1 to grab my helmet and bike and head out for an 11-mile bike followed by a 5K run.

Much like my childhood, I wasn’t the fastest but I finished. I resolved after Pink Power that I could do this again. That I wanted to do this again. The feeling of accomplishment in the journey to the finish line was almost as fulfilling as some other of my life’s achievements.  I was fortunate to have completed 3 half marathons, 2 10-Miler races, and 10 5K races in 2012. Confidence was building.

So, 2013…I will complete 5 triathlons – including a half Ironman in June (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run)! And yes, training has commenced. (Stay tuned for updates as I get conditioned and build strength.)

These triathlons will require me to raise the bar on my physical fitness and ability.  I’ve totally upped my game in order to bring awareness to adoption of orphans with Down syndrome through RODS Racing. I am officially part of the team and am taking the inspiration started by Brady Murray’s awesome performance at Ironman World Championships in Kona. I am committing this year to raise $5,000 for RODS Racing, to benefit Reece’s Rainbow, a Down syndrome adoption ministry that seeks to help defray the expensive costs of international adoption.

I have been blessed to adopt two children with Down syndrome, Jasmine and Joel (J&J). I am also honored to have an amazing sister-in-law, Jackie, who has Down syndrome. J&J are incredible funny and charming children. I can’t help but think of the thousands of orphans with Down syndrome who have been rejected and scorned in the native land and sit perishing in inadequate institutional care.

Financing these types of adoptions – special needs international adoption – can be extremely costly. Upwards of $40,000 in some cases. We were fortunate in that Jasmine’s cost $14,000 and Joel’s around $18,000. We could NOT have brought them home without the generous hearts of our churches, our parents, our friends, and through fundraising efforts like yard sales. Finances always discourage families from adopting, even when they have open hearts and open homes to do so. I want to help make this easier for them.

I am committing to the following races this year to help bring home more angels forever. I want to give these children a chance at life, one race at a time! Please visit my team member page and give a gift of life to help unite these children with their families. Help me get to my first goal of $250 by February 2nd!

  • Saturday 2/2/13 – Boys and Girls Club 2-mile Resolution Run, Lynchburg, VA (Goal: $250)
  • Sunday 2/24/13 – Disney Princess Half Marathon, Orlando, FL (Goal: $750)
  • Sunday 4/14/13 – Angel’s Race Sprint Triathlon, Lynchburg, VA (Goal: $500)
  • Saturday 4/27/13 – Richmond Tri Club Sprint Triathlon, Richmond, VA (Goal: $500)
  • Sunday 5/19/13 – Columbia Triathlon, Ellicott City, MD (Goal: $500)
  • Sunday 6/2/13 – Ironman 70.3, Raleigh, NC (Goal: $1000)
  • Sunday 8/18/13 – Pink Power Triathlon, Richmond, VA ($750)
  • Saturday 11/16/13 – Richmond Marathon, Richmond, VA (Goal: $750)

8 races for $5,000 to help more children with Down syndrome come home forever. In a fun twist, Jasmine will be joining me in the Richmond Tri Club Sprint and the Pink Power Tri this year. I will pull her in a raft for the swim, a trailer for the bike, and a running chair for the run. I can’t wait to help her finish two sprint triathlons as part of United Athletics (blog post coming soon on this too)!

triathlon-jasmine

I am not the fastest, but I can keep up. Relentless endurance is all it takes. Swim. Bike. Run.

Thank you for believing in the power of love and life for orphans with Down syndrome.

Help us fund their way home forever!

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