History repeats itself
Last week was my third time competing in the Aussie transplant games. And I made the same mistake the third year in a row.
The first year I really didn’t know much about it. I took a train to Newcastle, and just ran the 5K as a part of the opening ceremonies, and then took a train home. Just meeting a few people there, I realized I should have come for the whole week.
Two years ago, in Melbourne, I spent most of the week there, but only participated in about three days of events, and worked the other half of the time.
This year, I participated in four of the 9 days of events – and again, left knowing I should have done more. Yes, work, deadlines, a big event coming up. But this week is a chapter in the most important story of my life – the fact that I got a second chance.
People not Medals
The first question most people ask me is “How did you do? Did you win any medals?” It misses the whole point of the games. It’s a miracle any of us are even suiting up for the games, much less being competitive.
Every minute is humbling. You met another athlete whose story you can’t believe.
Meet Adam, who is under 20 but has had a transplanted liver for something like 17 years now, and smiles bigger that the length of the pool.
Meet Kate, the first woman with a heart + double lung transplant to complete a half-Ironman.
Meet Andy, who ran the 5k with me who has a double lung transplant. But his training has been rough lately – because he’s currently undergoing chemo for liver cancer.
Meet Rodney, who swam (incredibly well) who had a double lung transplant 18 months ago. When he got a silver medal, his eyes welled up with tears.
I reconnected with people I met two years ago.
After spending so much time around triathletes, all too obsessed with podiums and winning their age group, this group is a special one. Now, they still are putting everything out there, pushing themselves to the limit, and they are competitive. But the times and the medals take a back stage to the reason we’re there.
Lining up for the race is the biggest accomplishment for us, and that the success of any of us in the games starts with the gift from our donors, contains an incredible amount of luck, and then we add in our own dash of effort.
I watched a man over 60 years of age complete the 30k cycling road race – who didn’t even know how to change gears on a bike. He was pushing the bike up hills because he hadn’t figured out how to shift down. But his smile was the biggest of any of us .
I still have a community allergy – I have a hard time being part of a group, even an amazing one like this one. I found myself often looking for a place to be alone and just take in what was around me. It’s a little overwhelming at times.
So, answer the damn question. How did you do?
My worst performance was certainly the cycling 5k time trial – I didn’t warm up, and my lungs just felt terrible the whole time (which is no time at all in cycling). It feels pretty lame when you complain about your lungs and the person next to you doesn’t have their original ones.
The first ever triathlon at the transplant games was punctuated for me by two punctured tubes, so I had no way to complete the final 10k. I DNF’d but still ran the run course. Normally something like that would bother me for days. But the spirit of the games is too positive, too wonderful to let something like that bother me.
The Sunday 5k run is the best time I’ve posted (just around 20 minutes flat) though I think the course was 200m short. Still, the wheels haven’t fallen off (yet), and I was the fourth person across the line, and the second transplant recipient. In the 30k road race, I managed to fight and hang on until it was down to the final five of us, until the last 400m, when I was subsequently out-sprinted by almost 100m.
I felt great about all of my swims, though as the day went on, I definitely had less energy and began to drag in the 400m. I was certainly slower than 2 years ago. I did backstroke in one relay, which makes me want to train for the 200 IM for two years from now.
Si, con mucho gusto. The World Transplant Games are in Spain in July. Why not?