This weekend was the Musselman Triathlon in the Finger Lakes, NY. I had never been to a triathlon before, but my brother, Bob had invited us to go early in the year, so I figured it would be a fun adventure! Plus, we really love the Finger Lakes!
We left on Friday morning — after a terrible week at work. I got home on Thursday and after the events that unfolded during the day — my husband asked me if I still wanted to go. Even though my week was tough, I was feeling more relaxed than I had in a long time — like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders! This trip was just what I needed to clear my mind and get a fresh perspective. I had so many thoughts — I needed some focus.
Saturday we went to church at St. Frances de Sales in Geneva, NY. There were several Catholic churches in the area, but I really wanted to go here, because my favorite, go-to prayer is to his credit. And it didn’t disappoint. So, all of our crew slipped in a pew wearing our casual shorts (my Mom, Tom, Father Louie, Father Bob and myself) — after a long day out at The Windmill, a craft show & farmer’s market in Penn Yan, NY. There was a bulletin in the pew, and I started to read the long article on the front by their new pastor, Father Tom Mull. I didn’t get through the entire article, because I couldn’t stop the tears from running down my face. I finished it later only to have the same exact reaction. It was if he was talking to me — that he knew I was coming to his mass — and he wrote the words I needed to hear.
The article went on to talk about the fact that he had only been at that parish for three weeks. He refers to his new assignment as part God’s plan for him, but then he says, “…We never really know what direction God will take us in — often we have it all figured out and then — boom. God gives us the nudge and it is nothing as we had formerly thought!” At mass, as he wrapped up he said, “I pray that you find peace this week in your home, with your family, at work and throughout your day. And that when there are tough decisions to make, you will hear God speak to you here and he will guide you,” and he placed his hand over his heart. I could barely sing the closing hymn. I truly felt as if he spoke to me at mass and the rest of the crowd went silent. It was as if St. Francis de Sales himself spoke to me — a saint that I read his prayer almost every day for the past 12 years. A prayer that reinforced my complete trust in God. I long to have a parish like this back at home that strengthens my faith and inspires me every week like it used to — I still hold out hope that I will have that one day again.
So, the triathlon was on Sunday. Working out isn’t exactly my thing, let alone running, swimming or biking long distances. I can tell you that combining all three in one day would never happen to me. But I guess that’s why they call it a “tri”athlon and consider it an event of endurance.
So the total event was 70.3 miles and started out with a 1.3 mile swim in the 73° water of Seneca Lake. The 900 athletes were divided up by age groups, and Bob fell into the 45 – 49 year old group (Bob being 47) — there were 69 of them, and they wore purple swim caps. From the swim, the athletes were pulled from the water by the docks and moved on to the bike portion of the race. The bikes went across the countryside between the Seneca and Cayuga Lakes for 56 miles before returning back to the Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva, NY for the final 13 mile run.
Bob’s group was scheduled to start the swim portion at 7:22 am. Our parking passes for the park expired at 7 am, and Tom and I got there at 6:15 am so we wouldn’t miss anything. I complained about the mile walk from the car to the race area — how pathetic am I? Seriously, that was pretty much the most difficult part of the day for someone like me — who has trouble walking long distances. Tom was carrying four pop-up chairs that we bought the night before at the dollar store — that experience was a treat in itself. And I had the camera with the zoom lens, plus my purse and my shoulder was completely numb. We must have looked like the most pathetic and unhealthy people at the event! But I didn’t care. We were there to root on Bob!
I tried to reach my Mom, but she wouldn’t answer her phone (we had stayed at different hotels). By 7 am, she called me to tell me that she and Father Louie couldn’t get Bob’s truck started that the battery was dead. The plan was that they would bring his truck to the park so he would have it handy when he was wiped out after the race. So she had called AAA and they had to wait until 8 am for them to arrive. We were on our own to cheer on Bob. And Mom’s last words were, “Don’t tell Bob — I don’t want to worry him that something is wrong with his truck.”
This event was simply amazing — my rendition isn’t going to do it justice. So here we are, the weather is perfect, the sun is shining — it’s still cool outside at 7:15 am (although hit the low 90’s by noon). Loud music is playing out of giant speakers to pump up the athletes, while friends and family ring cow bells that they gave all of us, cheering on their loved ones. Bag pipers played music on the beach — I know it sounds strange, but somehow it wasn’t at all. The mood was incredible and the energy was contagious!!! I was so pumped up for Bob.
And when Bob saw me waiting along the side as the purple-capped athletes came into the holding area, he gave me a huge smile — this is the most relaxed I’ve seen him in a long time — there was not a hint of stress in his face, even his eyes twinkled in excitement. I wished him good luck and took his picture, and he wanted to know where everybody else was. I pointed to Tom at the bottom of the holding area and then told him Mom got delayed but would be there soon. He immediately asked me what happened, but I never got a chance to answer, because they moved them into the water. Thank goodness!
What a way to kick off the morning! I wished my every day started with excitement like this. Bob was off in the race in a matter of minutes and less than 35 minutes later, he came running into the chute after completing part one of the triathlon. Tom and I were screaming at him, ringing our cow bells. Others were cheering for him too along with us. Once again, he gave us a huge smile and waved vigorously at us as we did the same to him. The energy was so contagious! It made me so happy to see him so happy. Bob raced all the time and this is a part of his life that I never experienced before, because I never took the time to come along. But all that would change after this.
Bob was off on his bike when Mom and Father Louie made it to the park. It turned out it wasn’t the battery after all, it was the new fob that Bob’s Dodge truck used to start the vehicle. But they made it there to see him in the third leg of the race — the run and the finish. I never saw anything like the finish either. As other athletes finished the race and came into the finish area, their children would run into the lane and run through the finish with them! It was so touching — and so joyous! These kids would grin from ear-to-ear as their parents did the same, crossing the finish together.
Bob finished with a time of 6 hours and 23 minutes, beating his previous time by 15 minutes, placing 379th. I was so proud of him. And can’t wait for Musselman 2014! I’ll be a spectator and not a participator! Tom joked that he could do it — using a jet ski for the swim, Spencer’s small motor bike and a Segway for the run. We laughed.
Always B E L I E V E !