When I registered for the Musselman aquabike (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, zero run) this winter, the form must have asked me to name a person I admire, or who I consider to be my hero. Because when I arrived at my transition spot today, this sign greeted me:
Wow. Instant tug in my chest and tears in my eyes. My Grandpa Dimick is indeed one of the people I admire most and who inspires me to become my best. He embodied both a stoic determination and a delightful sparkle that could sneak in just when things were feeling too weighty.
Grandpa was the Adult in the Room. He could be counted on to make unpleasant decisions that others didn’t want to face, which served him well as school principal, superintendent, church council president, and chair of more boards than I even know about, I’m sure. He liked being involved in his community, but he also felt it was his duty.
Grandpa measured his words. If he had nothing to add to a conversation, he’d stay silent, although you knew he was taking everything in. When he finally spoke, you listened. And one of the things he said – only a few times, because that’s all it took – was: “To those whom much is given, much is also expected.”
I’ve spent much of my life navigating how to live as one to whom much is given. I’ve spent substantial time tugged by guilt that I don’t DESERVE all that I’ve been given. That I need to pour out all I have…because I have more than I should. But without allowing myself to be filled at the same time, I just ended up empty. Tapped out. Unable to give any more.
Last year I also did the Musselman aquabike, and I did end up tapped out. I paced myself too fast for the hot conditions and ended up soft-pedaling the last 6-8 miles, because my gut basically shut down. I didn’t get to enjoy the post-race atmosphere, because dragging myself to my car…and home…was all I could think about.
So this year, with a solid winter of training as well as a couple of test-rides on the Musselman course under my belt, my first goal was to finish strong. I knew it would take some pacing on the bike, as my tendency (like pretty much everyone’s, I think) is to go out too hard.
So after a solid swim – or scrum, more accurately, for the number of bodies I kept pawing and being pawed by – I forced myself to settle into a sustainable bike pace. It stinks to get passed by people, but it would have stunk even more to flail at mile 50 like last year.
I thought a lot about pacing until the deluge started. I don’t know how accurate my sense of time is, but it seemed like a solid half hour, if not 45 minutes, of driving rain. The kind that sheets across the road in waves of big, heavy drops. Literally, holy buckets. I told myself that this couldn’t last forever…and then I started thinking that I’d be writing this race report from an ark.
It was cold. Not as cold as Keuka – thank God for that experience to show me just how unpleasant a ride I can survive – but definitely shudder-inducing. After about 20 minutes of rain, I decided that, pacing be damned, if I was going to generate enough heat not to DNF (Did Not Finish, for non-triathlete readers), I needed to dial up the intensity.
So I did, stayed warm enough not to shiver uncontrollably, and eventually the rain stopped. I have never been so glad to see a steep hill (up from Hwy 89), as it presented a chance to generate heat but not headwind!
Long story short, I finished strong and almost 20 minutes faster than last year (19:45 to be exact). Even my transition was marginally faster. I feel so, so fortunate, and proud too.
I have indeed been given so much, not least of which is my health. I was fortunate enough to get through my crash 2 years ago with the capacity to heal, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to do it. Recovery has taken a lot of work, but the fact that recovery is possible – that forgiveness is an inextricable part of this life – is the gift. What we do with the gift is our choice. And my best choices come out of real gratitude rather than guilt.
So, with deep and true respect for my Grandpa, I might revise his statement slightly:
To those whom much is given, much is also POSSIBLE.
When I live in that possibility, I can fly. I can move forward, and I can give more than ever.
And finally, in honor of bananas: I eat a lot of bananas, usually 2 per day. My grandpa would have half a banana every morning for breakfast. He used to sing: “I like bananas, because they have no bones.”
Thanks, Grandpa, for a great ride.