An Open Letter to Everyone That Made Tri for a Cure Possible for Me
To everyone who made it possible for this half-footed, four-toed woman to kick butt in her first triathlon: THANK YOU.
I do not do cardio.
A friend’s dad once told me he thought he had seen me going for a run down our road and I violently shook my head saying, “oh, no, no, no, if you ever see me running, pull over because something is wrong.”
When asked in April if I wanted to participate in Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure in South Portland, I have no idea what came over me to say “sure”. To be honest, I thought it would be kind of funny and iconic for me to do a triathlon when I do not do cardio and I have half a foot missing a big toe. I love a bit, I love a good story, and this seemed like a good one.
Getting the Right Shoes
This was no joke.
I went into this absolutely clueless and right off the bat I knew I was in over my head. On April 3, I went for my first “run” around Back Bay in Portland, made it half a mile jogging, stopped, and thought, “uh oh”.
Running really isn’t the best thing for my half-foot, four-toed self so I knew I needed the right gear. After talking with a personal trainer, I made my way to Fleet Feet in Portland where they patiently went over every part of my “Lil’ Foot”, figured out what shoe would be right for my specific needs, and didn’t charge me for two different pairs.
“Thank you” to Fleet Feet doesn’t suffice. I have spent my life walking around in crappy shoes that hurt my knees because I couldn’t afford the right sneakers for my deformities, always having to pay for two separate pairs of shoes.
They were patient and supportive and took care of me physically and financially.
April 3 was a half-mile of tears and pain but flash forward three months and I was running 4 miles around Mackworth island safely, pain-free, and full of hope, pride and gratitude.
Getting a Pair of Wheels
Up next was the bike. I started dabbling in stationary biking at Planet Fitness and felt discouraged that I could only bike 8 miles in an hour. I knew I needed to get on the road for a full training experience but after pursuing on Facebook Marketplace, I found that even used bikes were grossly out of my price range.
I reached out to bike shops in the area and was ecstatic to work with Cyclemania in Portland where they rented the perfect hybrid bike to me for $35 when I needed it. They were closed on Sundays but all my bike practices were on that day, so they let me pick up the bike on a Saturday and return it on a Monday while only paying for the 1-day price.
They helped me look at road bikes and determine that it wasn’t a comfortable fit, so I exercised on a hybrid bike that felt great. I hit the road and got to see my town from a new perspective as I biked down backroads and across the Ellis C Snodgrass Memorial Bridge, taking in some of Maine’s finest scenery, sounds, and smells.
Renting a bike started to add up so I posted on Facebook an update on my training and asked if anyone had a bike I could borrow. An old friend from high school I hadn’t spoken to in years reached out and let me borrow her hybrid bike which was a game-changer. Suspicious of a hole in the tire, I brought the bike to Cycelmania where they did a full inspection, replaced a tire, put air in, fixed the chain, and only charged me $20 to feel safe and secure on the road.
Thank you to Cycelmania and Krista for taking care of my bike needs, and giving me peace of mind and a pair of wheels.
April was an hour of 8-mile biking but flash forward three months and I was biking 15 miles in 60 minutes.
Getting in The Water
As the weeks ticked by, it was time to get wet. I signed up for a month at the Casco Bay Branch YMCA in Freeport and started swimming laps, which I have always loved doing.
Swimming has always been easy for me and the only type of cardio I would entertain. I had minimal worries for this part of the triathlon but I knew I needed to test out my skills in the open ocean. After looking for wetsuits online, I once again found this part to be way out of my budget.
A woman posted on the Tri for a Cure Facebook page selling an old wetsuit at an extremely fair price, we met up in Portland, and she let me pay her by donating to her fundraiser page. That made me feel great - I got the wetsuit I needed, helped out a fellow triathlete, and put my money toward Maine Cancer Foundation.
Thank you to the kind stranger who made that possible. I started panicking when I realized how pricey the tri was getting and had no idea what I was going to do about this extremely important part, especially in cold Maine waters. She saved my chilly butt!
What I thought would be the easiest part ended up being the most traumatic. I panicked during the triathlon swim, couldn’t front stroke to save my life, and had to backstroke the entire ⅓ mile but made it in and out of the water in 13 minutes.
Financial & Emotional Support
The most sincere thank you I owe is to everyone who donated to my Maine Cancer Foundation fundraiser and who supported me through every cry, complaint, and vent. Seeing the names pop into the fundraiser page and the donations pouring in filled my heart with many emotions and I am filled with so much gratitude for every person who generously donated.
Thank you. THANK YOU. You helped Maine Cancer Foundation reach its $20 million 15-year goal - You did that!!
My friends, family, and coworkers listened to me talk about this for months, complain and cry, and continued to
My friends, family, and coworkers listened to me talk about this for months and complain, cry and brag about it while they constantly reminded me how proud of me they were. Loved ones showed up on the day of the race with colorful signs, high energy, and so, so much love and pride.
Every time I trained, I pictured those faces waiting for me at the finish line. Seeing their faces there on the day of the race was everything I needed and more.
My work wife also participated in the triathlon and her encouragement, tips and tricks, love, and support propelled me even further as she made me feel so much more comfortable and prepared for this than I ever could have been. A very special thank you to you, Miranda.
My boyfriend had to listen to me cry every night before bed as I entered into my nightly triathlon panic attack and it became routine for him to calm me down, talk me through it, encourage me, and remind me that I was training for this, I was prepared for this, I was capable of this.
His goal for me to complete it in 2 hours was absolutely outrageous and I got upset with him every time he mentioned it.
I completed the triathlon in 1 hour and 58 minutes.
Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure 2022
Would I do it again? I’m not entirely sure the answer to that. Friends who were there who felt the energy and saw the event are interested in a potential relay team and now that I have the pride and satisfaction that I did this all on my own I would love to have fun with it with loved ones.
The commodore, support, love, and energy throughout the event was inspiring. The signs and yells of love and encouragement on the side of the road from spectators, the inspiring stories from athletes and the “we are in this together” attitude for a cause bigger than us all was remarkable.
Everything Happens for a Reason
I do not do cardio.
When asked in April if I wanted to participate in Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure in South Portland, I have no idea what came over me to say “sure”.
Three weeks before the big day, I learned of a very close loved one getting diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. It was at that moment I knew why I had said yes and I knew why I had done this and what would propel me to sprint to that finish line.
It got personal and it got real.
Thank you to every single soul who made this possible. I truly could not have done it without you.
With all my love,