Tuesday, November 17, 2009

so different second time around

I am sitting at home and just finished packing for Ironman Arizona. Just a few last minute things to throw in my suitcase. Crazy but I can't stop thinking about this weekend and how different it all is. Don't get me wrong, I didn't expect to replicate the first Ironman experience as that 140.6 miles was about me and doing something for myself that I wanted to conquer. I also went and raced with a group of first-time friends. Having Noah and Ed last year in CdA was by all means....some serious hilarity! This time I carry my friend Des with me across the Finish Line, and not in a "sad, she needs my help" kind of way. I just take her with me.

I think about her contacting me last November to sign up with her for 2009. We would celebrate her 40th birthday and her 2 year cancerversary Then January, I got the call. The cancer has returned. I will be getting a stem cell transplant at some point along with more treatment. She didn't say it at that point, but I knew, No Ironman for Des this year. My first thought to be honest, was to totally bail on the race as well. But I couldn't. I wanted to finish what WE had started. You see, Desiree is this special friend and complete bad-ass all in the same sentence. When I met her a few years ago, we simply connected and the memories I have with her up to this point, remain intact. Bike rides, coffee, glasses of wine, walks, runs, camping, one early trip to Houston and one late drive back on the same day. We even share those moments of silence where we simply don't need to say anything because sometimes we all just need a friend that let's us be quiet about it all.

I think Desiree and I have had this unspoken rule that I won't bring up her cancer unless she does. I mean, the cancer is not truly who she is. She is a wife, mother of 3 amazing kids, creative thinker, has great taste in music, has taught me forgiveness and grace...and oh yeah a Boston Marathon Qualifier, Half Ironman Finisher....and now, 2x cancer survivor. Cancer has never changed the core of who she is, one of the kindest people I have ever met. Always looking out for others before herself and walks through life with total humility. (by the way, she will KILL me for publicly writing this) She doesn't know it but those early morning walks we had a handful of times during the last couple of months really meant so much to me. She thought it was getting in the way of my training, but actually it slowed me down. It caused me to live in the moment, and i need that pull back. I am turbo, to the max and those walks with Des were therapeutic and honest.

I guess maybe this post has gotten completely off track from what I intended, or maybe not. About one month ago, Des showed up at the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin to run the 5k. This would be the first time she had run any kind of distance post-treatment. As I waited at the Finish Line for her, I was hoping I had not missed her in the Survivor Shoot. And then I saw her. I saw her running towards me and will never forget that moment when she grabbed me at the Finish Line and well, we had a total girly, emotional moment full of tears. It was more than worth it. We both laugh how we have told so many about it, but honestly you really had to be there. And I guess you have had to be along for the journey. The picture below is from the Finish Line. I was so glad someone caught that moment.

I guess here is how it all wraps up into how this is different this time. November 22 is about finishing 140.6 for myself and Des. (she wouldn't let me do it for just her) And when it gets tough, I will channel that hug at the Finish Line, and know I can move through just about anything.

I carry my dear friend Des with me in total strength and Des, if you read all the way to the bottom.....when you are ready, I will be back to take on an Ironman WITH YOU. Your day will come, I completely believe that.


jenniferhaley said...

What a fabulous post and wonderful recap of our fabulous Desiree. Thank you Colleen for putting her in writing so well! Good luck in the triathlon and we'll be thinking of you - you totally rock in so many ways and I'm blown away by you and Des. Good luck in the triathlon and I know you'll do great. You are an inspiration to all of us. :) XOXO Jennifer Haley

Puig said...

What a great photo! Des is certainly amazing person and so are you! Kick ass this weekend!!

Kirsten said...

So excited to find this blog for the first time! I loved getting your story on this IM and the inspiration of your dear friend Desiree. What an amazing perspective on the race, it will be an unforgettable day. Can't wait to cheer you on from far away!