It has been quite a long time since my last blog entry and so much has changed in that time. I feel it is nearly impossible for me to continue on with this space and racing in general without addressing the changes that have occurred.
This time last year, Danny, Winston, and I packed up our lives and moved from our first home together as a married couple, in Roseburg OR, over the Cascades to Redmond OR. We were stoked! Since we arrived on the west coast in 2011, we began a love affair with Central Oregon and it really was a dream come true to be living and working there.
We quickly settled into a new routine and and after laying down a massive Ironman personal best at CDA, I felt I was in the best shape of my life!! My Kona dreams were being expressed with more confidence and plans were being made for next racing season to set up the best possibility of getting a Kona qualification spot. We were still training and planing a return to Lake Stevens to race the 70.3 (where I raced my first half IM in 2012) and another local 70.3 before the season ended. We also had planned to volunteer at a local triathlon, which we had never done before. It was cool to think about seeing the sport from that point of view and it just felt like the right thing to do vs. race that particular race.
So, the morning of August 9, 2014 Danny and I got ourselves together and checked in with the lead volunteers. He was to help on the bike course and I was to help set up the run course. We went our separate ways and went to work. It’s weird how I can remember almost every detail of that morning leading up to my mom’s phone call. I could even probably tell you exactly where I was standing when I answered.
She was calling to tell me ‘your brother Ben died last night.’
The gravity of that statement is still so numbing and heart wrenching and makes me feel like I’m having a terrible nightmare. I personally tend to choose to phrase it that he passed away or that we lost him instead of he died. In a way it makes it less cold for me. The thing is, this was a completely unexpected and such a stupid thing to have happened. There is absolutely no acceptable reason why he shouldn’t be here right now and at times that makes this whole grief thing extra frustrating and maddening and so profoundly sad. Ben had a most special light about him. His light was so contagious and brilliant and unique. I am so incredibly lucky to have been his little sister and that we shared such a strong admiration and pride for one another. It’s cliche, but he really was the absolute best big brother I could’ve ever had. And it’s because of who and what he was that makes moving on without him and with this life that is now so enormously altered from what I envisioned it would be, so fricking hard. People say that when you look for and find meaning to a loss, you can find peace and comfort and all these good things. That is not my truth. I know that I will likely live the rest of my life not having a meaning for losing him and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to accept and move forward with.
That night, we arrived in Minnesota to be with my family. It was also this day that we decided to move back to MN indefinitely. Without a question, we knew it was the right thing for us to do and by the middle of September we made it happen.
I spent 3 months without a job. I found it very difficult to smile and sell myself when what I was really feeling could bring instant and uncontrollable tears.
I use the phrase ‘threw in the towel’ and neglected any serious and structured training over the winter and into the spring.
We have moved twice, and purchased our first home since being back. I have changed employers and now work side by side with Danny again.
Over the last month or two, I have begun to feel a little better about things in general and my training has slowly become more consistent. I’m setting race goals for later this fall and looking forward to next year. I feel that very slowly I am getting control of my life again. For someone who makes sense of everything, takes control, and chooses to be proactive vs reactive, this entire thing has challenged every bit of who I am. And that, in it of itself, is an insanely difficult thing.
I am choosing to keep this blog going and I want to continue to be a competitive triathlete who makes challenging goals and does everything possible to reach them. I know this post is a necessary part of me returning to triathlon and I know it’ll be another emotional day when I do.
I am so thankful for my amazing husband who encourages me to continue to be the best me, my supportive family who are always excited to hear about a long ride or run, and my friends and special SOAS sistas who inspire me to keep my heart in it….one day, one step, and one minute at a time…
I love you Ben and I miss you every single day – XOXO sis