My stomach clenched as the butterflies settled in and made my stomach their home. Ten minutes until the first shot would ring and I was nowhere near ready, in fact I was weeks behind. Normal athletes train for this event for months, but I had signed up just a mere month and a half before July 8, race day. Why am I doing this? I thought to myself, but the answer was on the tip of my tongue. My brother. Just the thought stung my eyes but there was no time for tears. I approached the front of the line. There was no turning back now. “GO!” the announcer shouted, and I plunged into the water.
Thirteen minutes of actively drowning passed and I emerged and sprinted to my bike. A third of the way done, I thought, trying to encourage myself. My legs slowly took to a rhythm and I remembered why I love biking so much. I reached the 11 mile mark and felt good but I knew this feeling was going to end very shortly. I turned the corner and started biking right past my house. The memories flooded over me and were almost too much to bear. Memories of just one year ago when it was my brother in my place, and I was cheering from the sidelines. I pushed on.
After 58 minutes I had finished the bike and transitioned flawlessly into running. Each step toward the finish line became harder and harder both physically and emotionally. Eventually the finish line came into view and the cries of all of my supporters reached my ears. “Go Laura!” was repeated again and again as I crossed over the line. This is so wrong! I cried silently. I looked around and was met by so many declarations of pride over what I had just accomplished. “Laura, you just finished your first triathlon!” I smiled and nodded while the only words I could hear were those of my brother just four months before. “Laura, I am so proud of you. I always knew you could do it!”
I finally let myself think about what July 8th meant to me as I stood on the finish line. July 8th was not only the four month anniversary of my brother’s death, but also the day I pushed myself to accomplish one of his passions, a triathlon. That day I came to grips with the fact that my brother would never race again and took it upon myself to live the life that he couldn’t. I raced in honor of my brother and best friend, Patrick Sievert.