Tag Archives: daughter

But I raced anyway


I raced a triathlon this past weekend. In the PRO field. I came out of the water last. I never caught up to a single other PRO, short of the one who dropped out. Eight amateurs beat me. And I knew it would all shake out like this before I stepped to the starting line. But I raced anyway. Because after a year off, a year of having only enough energy to stay afloat in #grief, I missed that place in my mind that I can only reach on a race course. 

#lifeafterloss #teampoppy #imvictoria703 

Before Dessert

Last night fourteen strangers in our 20s and 30s gathered around a dinner table. Potluck style. We shared dishes and tears and hopes for #lifeafterloss. And before dessert, we had become a community.

(Check out TheDinnerParty.org to learn more and to join a table in your town.)

Paddle Out 


Yesterday we paddled out to remember my father, a lifelong longboarder, just as he would have wanted it: in his favorite surf spot, right where he taught me and my sister and my nephews how to surf.

#teampoppytony

Video: That time I won the Moth StorySlam

The theme of the night was Fathers. So I told a story about mine.

 

The void is vast


This moment should be thrilling. New job, new city, new world. But instead my heart is breaking because I can’t call my dad and tell him all about it. The void is vast. Please, dear #Portland, fill it with kindness and beauty. 

#pdx #teampoppytony

The Raw Race Report: Ironman Lake Placid 2014

IMLP_MMRF_Reception

From behind the podium, I accepted a microphone and an opportunity to address a 200+ crowd of orange-clad triathletes and their families.

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I’d like to tell you a story about two girlfriends, I said, both of whom are racing Ironman Lake Placid this Sunday. A story about two girlfriends and their fathers. 

The first of these friends was in her mid-20s when she lost her father. While biking, her father was struck by a distracted driver. Her father died before she could make it to the hospital to say goodbye. 

The second of these friends is me. When I was in my early 20s, my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a rare and (as of yet) incurable blood cancer. The prognosis read 3-5 years

But that was eleven years ago. 

I explained this as I addressed 110 triathletes and their families who, over the course of the past year and in preparation to represent the MMRF at Ironman Lake Placid, had raised over $865,000 for myeloma research. Some of them had been personally touched my myeloma. Most had not. Instead, they raised those funds in exchange for a highly coveted Ironman bib. It was my task to thank them on behalf of the myeloma community.

Since its inception in 1999, I explained, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation has brought six new myeloma drugs to market, one of which has kept my father golfing and cycling and far outliving the stark prognosis he faced eleven years ago. Thanks to you and the tireless work of the MMRF, I have had  the past eleven years to process and express to my father the full extent of his influence on my life. I have been able to demonstrate to him in every Ironman that I race that I was, in fact, listening to all of the lessons he taught me as a young girl about setting goals, believing in the impossible, and defying odds. 

I fought back tears and returned to the story of two girlfriends and their fathers.

None of us know how many final seconds, or days, or years we will have to express gratitude, communicate influence, heal deep wounds, and retire old grudges with our loved ones. But if we start now, we just may have enough time. 

IMAZ with Poppy Smiles Cropped

In May, with my parents cheering me on, I raced Ironman Texas, won my age group, declined my Kona slot, placed 3rd amateur, qualified for my pro card, and broke 10 hours. I was a happy triathlete.

But I didn’t get into triathlon for podiums or Kona qualifications.

So when the MMRF put together a team of 110 triathletes united by a cause greater than themselves, I seized the opportunity to join them, even though it meant two exhausting Ironman competitions in as many months.

IMLP Dmitry

This is why I race triathlon. To be a part of something greater than myself. 

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And that something took Lake Placid by storm.

Speaking of storms, it poured.

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SWIM.

1:05. Luckily, I was on the final stretch of the 2.4 mile swim when the lightning sent the first of many snapchat selfies. Though I was permitted to finish the swim, those further back were not.

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Safety crews directed the latter waves of swimmers to the closest shore, where they began the 1.5 mile barefoot walk back to transition. I was thankful to already be on my bike.

BIKE

5:52. Pelting rain, low visibility, lighting and thunder, tremor-like shivers, numb hands and feet. And a laughing heart.

IMLP Bike Rain

I still find the Ironman distance fairly ridiculous, so when you layer a thunderstorm and piercing rain on top of 140.6 miles, laughing is the healthiest response to the absurdity.

I executed a 112-mile build, holding back in the first quarter, and building throughout the final three. Experimenting with a slower build, I was able to consume more fluid, calories, and electrolytes. I even hit a 112-mile pee PR of 5x!

IMLP Run Happy

RUN

3:30. I started the run well hydrated and feeling strong. In a three hour and 30 minute blur, I slowly moved my way up through the field to capture the top spot in my age group.

Finish Line Hands

I know this race report appears slim on details, but racing an Ironman is about so much more than the miles and watts and the gels consumed. I accepted the invitation to explain this perspective on this year’s Ironman Athlete Panel. Unfortunately, WordPress won’t allow me to embed the Livestream video, but click here to watch my conversation with Mike Reilly at about 11:40-14:30, and again 16:00-17:00. That is the raw race report of every Ironman I race.

Thank you:

-My Sherpa, Sarita.

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-The MMRF organization and its Team For Cures. For giving me the ultimate reason to race.

-To Team Poppy Tony’s supporters. For helping us surpass $75,000 for myeloma research.

-To Alicia and Jane at MMRF. For an incredible five years together racing down a cure.

Kendra and Alicia

Zoot Sports. For my snazzy and functional tri-kit, designed specifically so I can represent the MMRF.

SmartWool. Remarkably, even after all of the driving rain and pools of pee collecting in my socks as I biked, and later after running through sprinklers and dumping cups of water to cool my temperature, I had no blisters. It’s not called SMARTwool for nothing!

Nalgene. For my most well hydrated race yet!

Coach Tim at QT2 Systems. For pushing back.

Rose Physical Therapy. For putting my plantar fascia on the road to recovery.

-And most of all, to a girlfriend and her father.

IMLP Swim Morning

 

 

Behind the Camera

Canon SureShot 35mm_small

Before selfies, before camera phones, even before digital cameras, there was the Canon Sure Shot 35mm camera.

And for the better part of my childhood, there was a mom standing behind this camera – my mom.

In fourth grade, my teacher announced autobiographies as our spring writing assignment, each of our eight years to be captured with a chapter and a picture. My mind illustrated every one of those years with my mother right by my side – indeed, she had been – but as I searched through photo albums to select pictures of us to punctuate chapters, my mother’s printed image was no where to be found.

Devils Postpile Circa 80s

Lots of these…


Sister 5 K Run

And these…

 

Grandmas Couch

And these. But none of mother…

Last year, a new friend asked if I had a mom. I spoke a lot about my father on my blog, she noted, but where was my mom? My heart sank, like it did when I was eight and searching for pictures and found none.

Album Shelf

All my life, my mother has walked me through life’s most important moments. But no one takes pictures of those. They aren’t the fancy or the pretty or the sexy ones.

They are the toughest ones.

Disciplining. Drying tears. Delivering bad news.

Twenty-five years after searching for her image in a photo album now yellowed with age, she still carries the burden of moments we don’t write about in blogs. She calls with the oncology updates, she manages my dad’s chemo calendar, and in a scene only understood by those who have shared life with a partner, she guides him – and sometimes carries him – up his steepest climbs.

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So today we celebrate this incredible woman by putting her in front of the camera and making her the star of this post.

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Her sacrifices have been innumerable, her patience unparalleled, and her charity limitless. Happy Mother’s Day to my moo-moo!

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Hopefully with greater selfie capabilities, we’ll get a few more family photos with mom!