Nick

Kara

9.11.2011

Follow your heart

I think one of the lessons of 9/11 is to hold your loved ones tight, always tell them how much you love them and to follow your heart and be happy.  What I remember of the morning of September 11, 10 years ago, was heading to my morning education class - I was in senior year of college near Philadelphia. It was in an old building and a TV was on in the lobby area and people were watching it. I had no idea what was going on.  I sat down in the classroom and our teacher was visibly distressed, told us what had happened and that he could not hold class that day. We all left and went to look at the TV. I went back to my dorm room - I was an RA at the time and I remember watching the TV with Bill in my dorm room and wondering if my afternoon class would be cancelled. For all of those who have suffered a loss from 9/11, my thoughts are with you on this 10th anniversary.

Today was to be my 2nd Olympic Distance Triathlon, in Washington D.C. My sister works for the company that puts on the race and got me a free entry to it after it was already sold out, after the Philly tri.  Over a month ago, I saw a special on the History Channel about what a bomb would do to DC on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  After seeing that, it stuck in my head. I was nervous about the date and venue, but really wanted to go and do it. I think it was on Thursday or Wednesday when they brought up the terror threats in either DC or NYC and I still thought I would be ok. As Saturday approached, I still planned on going but was getting more and more nervous and being dramatic and looking at the kids and thinking, will this be the last time that I see you? Is this going to be the last Friday that I spend with you? Will I be dead and not be able to take Nick to his first day of pre-school? I was having total anxiety.

Saturday around lunchtime I said goodbye to Bill and the kids and thought I was going to have a breakdown. I held it together and my mom hopped in the car for our ride to DC. I was expressing my fears and concerns and in partial tears talking about bombs as we decided what to do. I think my mom thought I was a total nutjob - which is probably very accurate.  I really wanted to go see my sister, hang out, and do the race. She had a suite to share with us at the host hotel, everything was perfect and the weather finally cleared up for the weekend. My mom said we could always drive to outlets on the way and decide then. I decided that I just wanted to go. We made it to DC in 2.5 hours. About 30 minutes away, I started to have an anxiety attack again.  Any small kids that I saw I started to feel like I was going to puke. I was hoping going into the expo would make me feel excited and stop feeling like I was. But instead I felt worse. I thought, why am I here?? There isn't a swim so it isn't a full triathlon, I might die and never see my kids again, and I was picturing myself on my bike or running tomorrow and just scared for my life and wondering if a bomb was going to blow everyone up. It was awful, I was a complete mess. We saw my sister and told her how I was feeling and she thought I was being crazy (I was). My mom wasn't saying too much and just asked me what I wanted to do.  I knew my heart wasn't in it. I just didn't care enough about the race and felt like I was risking my life to do it. So we stayed in DC for 2 hours and drove home. I felt comfortable with this decision but kept questioning it - but it was too late, we were headed home. I wish that the race was another weekend where I could have had a great time hanging out with my mom and sis, but I couldn't swallow it. So I was a DNF today.  If I had no kids, I know I would have been fine. All I kept thinking of was the kids.

All of the bike training - for no reason, but part of me doesn't even care.  This morning I did my own triathlon - swam a mile in the pool, then went for a benefit bike ride at our Y for 33 miles and then ran a 10k. I tried to do all this at race pace and did well until it was time to run. I'll have to compare my times. I guess this is my race report on the race that did not happen. I wonder how I'll feel about this in a couple days or weeks.

9 comments:

  1. You poor thing. Unless you have ever suffered an attack of anxiety, it can be difficult to understand how overwhelming it can be. I'm sorry you felt that way - it is deeply unpleasant. Big hug.

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  2. Gah, I got all choked up and anxious just reading that. Those are you BABIES!

    I'm sorry it didn't work out how you'd hoped. Best wishes on many many great future races.

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  3. i was a bit freaked out today too, just waiting for something to happen. given how you were feeling, you had to go home. there will be many more races you can actually ENJOY!!! and hey, you did the distance anyway, that takes motivation!

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  4. i think you made a good decision to return home to your children. i don't think i could have gone through with it feeling the way you did.

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  5. I'm glad you followed through with what you thought was best! So important :-)

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  6. I'm sorry Natalie, I know that had to be really tough to do. Racing is meant to be fun, and you did what felt right. There will be other races.

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  7. DNF in a race is Did Not Finish. DNF in life is Do Not Forget (what is most important in life). You did the latter. For that, you medalled my friend. XO, Helen.

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  8. Sounds like you made the right choice. You wouldn't have had any fun if you had stayed for the race and I don't blame you for doing what your gut was telling you to do. There will be other races!

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  9. That is such a tough choice and situation. There are always races all over that you can do. Like you said, its better to follow your heart than to ignore it.

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