Race Day

Jun 19

Last year a friend did a triathlon, and it inspired much talk of triathlons and general life fitness talk.  Brad was intrigued (as was I!), and so for Christmas, I ‘gave Brad a triathlon’.  By that I mean I signed him up for a local triathlon that was taking place on Father’s Day, and gave him the time and permission to begin the significant training process that it takes to build endurance in three disciplines.  I organized logistics, created space for training, opened up my heart for the commitment, and bit back my own selfish jealously as he tackled the challenge.  I have been so proud of him during this season: he’s a stud.  He has worked so extremely hard and been so disciplined in his perseverance: such an awesome thing to witness.  A new definition for triathlete you may not have heard: an athlete who doesn’t realize one sport is hard enough!

Much of the winter and spring has seen Brad stealing out of the house before sunrise to swim, bike, or run.  It’s been inspiring to watch him learn to swim laps for the first time in his life, to translate his CrossFit fitness gains of the past several years into racing fitness, and to combine workouts in ways he never imagined.  He has become enamored with cycling, and I’ve prayed more safety-on-the-road prayers over that bike than I can count.

I decided that we should cheer on Brad at a level that compared to the epic cheer squad he coordinated for the 2015 Queen Bee half-marathon that I ran.  I sourced some amazing signs from a friend-of-a-friend and they were epic.  (Thank you!)

You’ve got this!

Run the race with perseverance!

Swim! Bike! Run!  Beer!

Inspire and be inspired; it’s race day!

Do one thing every day that scares you.  CHECK!

My daddy is my hero!

We agreed that the spectators would wear red and white in honor of the alma maters’ of our competitors (U of Wisconsin and Miami U).  Chief Sister took my minions out for cheer gear the weekend before.  I had a tank top made that read “my husband rocks”.  Obviously, Brad and I take our encouragement game to high heights on occasions like these.  Upping the fun factor whenever possible, experiences over stuff, running the race (of life) with perseverance, and the pursuit of adventure are core to who we are.  I’m so glad that God blessed me with Brad.  He is still wow-ing me in year fourteen of our marriage.

His parents planned a surprise trip the weekend of the event because they wanted to see their son’s achievement in person.  All the local family was enthusiastically onboard… even Chief Sister broke her “no sports” rule by showing up big time: megaphones, car paint, clackers, cow bells, and red lipstick facepaint (for Greta).  Coincidentally, it was also the best weekend for Aussie travelers to hop-skip their way across North America and land with us.  They sat through the rain, wind and blazing sun with enthusiasm that only our Aussie family brings.  Baby Sister kept the surprise coming from all directions by showing up for the weekend, too.  If you are wondering, we are the large mob of loud, happy people lurking around our town this weekend.

Brad dove in to the lake for the start of the swim with a light drizzle falling at 7:30am, along with one-hundred forty other competitors.  By the time he climbed out of the water, I decided that next time I am going to tie a beachball to the back of his goggle strap so I can better spot him across the water.  (He’s not pleased with this brilliant idea for some reason.)  He finished the swim faster than he thought he would, and it was not raining when he went through the transition to the bike.  He jumped on the bike and took off remarkably fast, and we moved all our gear (we were like a large tribe of nomads with chairs marching around the infield areas trying to find optimal viewing spots) to watch the cyclists.  As soon as we got settled, it poured rain for most of the hour it took for him to bike forty kilometers.  With our chairs, ponchos, and umbrellas, we as spectators achieved a level of half-dry and half-soggy that only spectating outdoor enthusiasts can relate to.  The athletes did a looped route so we saw him at the beginning, middle, and end of the route.  My dad filmed every time he went by throughout the day: a great record.  As a different friend came off the course and reported crashes on the wet roads and a participant being hit by a car, I said a prayer of thanksgiving that my athlete came off that part of the course unscathed, and — again — faster than his training times had indicated.  The weather cleared by the time he transitioned to the run, and we moved camp again.  The kids were cute and lined up for high-fives where they could along the running route.  Seeing my girls watch their dad execute this effort was priceless; we desire to instill in them a lifelong love of either athleticism or fitness or whatever rings true in their hearts.  Brad looked strong on the first loop of the run and had built up enough buffer in the swim and bike that during the home stretch I knew as long has he kept moving forward he would make the goal he had set for himself: finishing in two hours and forty minutes.  The girls ran the last fifty meters with him and peeled off when he went through the finish chute.  He was disappointed with the last three miles of the run — he was tired — (go figure, LOL), but he still made his goal for the day.  My man finished his first Olympic distance triathlon in 2:39:31!  Go Brad!

**My aged computer is not cooperating with photos anymore, so I can’t upload race day pics to the blog.  I’m sorry!  Hopefully my descriptions are enough.  I’m in the chemo chair dripping my drugs in, and I know that if I don’t use this time to write-and-send, I won’t get this post out.  No time for tech support: it’s been a long season where half-done projects perpetually fall off into oblivion.  On that note, chemo is going fine.  I continue to choose to thrive in my weaknesses, and I am blessed by the support of my village.

Brad is already talking about his next race, and I’m continuing to pray that I too could have the strength to have another ‘race day’ of my own at some point in the future.  In the meantime, I’ll keep my mission of Do Today Well.  My eyes shine bright as I watch the people I love be the best version of themselves.  ‘Tis who we are.


  1. Alicia /

    Great job, Brad! Brian will be very jealous that I have not opened my heart to this commitment for him. You will have to give Jen lots and lots of hugs for that. Maybe someday you will have to share your training program with him. Just not yet!

  2. Thank you for the vivid description of all the training, the event, and the epic cheering. Our house is amazed and proud and inspired by Brad’s training and success and your huge commitment to give him the space to do this w all the other battles you fight every day. Only you and Brad could create the strength and make the space for this ❤️ In Awe ?

  3. Congrats Brad!!! Woohoo! Sounds awesome!! And congrats to you too, Jen–for carving out space for him to have such a great experience. What a fabulous team you are!! ❤️❤️
    I’ve been thinking of you since your last post…praying you continue to run this race of life for 50+yrs….you are rocking it so far.

  4. Kim Rourke /

    No need for pics as your detailed description “showed” the race, the fans, the weather?! Bravo to Brad and to your fabulous clan that made the day extra-spectacular. Job well done, coordinator and chief cheerleader!??

  5. Roslyn Mathie /

    I have done a marathon of smiling, from Meg and Dane’s surprise arrival on Thursday night to the fun dinner with Burwinkel’s on Friday along with Damo and Shells arrival, the Inflatable Race on Saturday, and then the magic atmosphere at the triathlon and sitting around laughing post trialthon. We don’t just Do Today Well, we do EVERYDAY WELL.

  6. Marlayne /

    WOW ~ This Family Rocks!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 <3

  7. Wow, what an accomplishment! You and your tribe are amazing! Your descriptions of race day, from the signs to the course details to the weather, make the photographs unneeded for sharing. (Sure, they’d be fun, and I’m really glad you have them for your family, but we’ll do fine with our imaginations.)

  8. Mommaj /

    Absolutely Wonderful being able to celebrate with Brad and the whole clan!! Truly awesome indeed!!

  9. Good job Brad! What a great accomplishment!

  10. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, Congratulations to Brad on his SUCCESS .. That is awesome.. My thoughts and prayers go to you that your new drugs work well. Take care and enjoy your summer..