The following is from cancer survivor, Paralympian and Team LIVESTRONG Captain for the 2013 LIVESTRONG Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Amy Dodson. Read Amy’s amazing survivorship story and join her at the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon.
LIVESTRONG is centered around belief. This powerful word appears throughout the Manifesto. “….we believe in life….we believe in energy…..we believe in focus….”
And the word BELIEF has become the theme for my Kona Ironman World Championship journey.
First, I couldn’t believe I was in! PC (Physically Challenged) athletes can only get into Kona through a lottery. 5 names are randomly drawn each year. I’ve thrown my name in 7 times and finally got picked this year!
After enjoying the high of getting in, I soon realized I had to get down to business. First, I needed to complete a Half Ironman to claim my lottery slot. I signed up for the Boise 70.3. I have friends in Boise and I love the city. Perfect choice. WRONG!!!!
The weather on race day was truly astounding. Race officials said they’d never seen anything like it. 30 minutes before we were due to start, an announcement was made that the bike course would be cut from 56 to 15 miles–due to the cold temps, heavy winds, and yes–snow and hail. As relieved as I was, I still had to face the swim. The water temp was 52 degrees and the chop was really bad. I’m not much of a swimmer so I was really intimidated. But….I had to believe I could do it. I put on my Desoto wetsuit and cap and jumped in. I flailed around for what seemed like hours, but I finally made it to the finish.
Many athletes–including pros– left their wetsuits on for the bike–it was THAT COLD.
It was pouring rain as I got on my bike and exited T1. My goal for the bike was to make it to T2 (in a different location). I could not care less about my bike split–I just wanted to arrive safely to T2.
The bike began with a screaming downhill. I was screaming–loudly–out of sheer terror!!!!! All these 30 something men were flying down the hill on their crotch rockets–weaving in and out of other riders. I just held my line–and the breaks–as I inched down that devil hill. I finally made it to T2. The run was perfect. 13.1 miles seemed like nothing compared to what I had already been through.
Now that I had stamped my ticket for Kona by finishing Boise, I had to start training. And training for Kona is serious business. I was fortunate to hook up with Mark Sortino and co. at Multisport Performance Institute. They’ve trained me for Kona and I must say I’m in the best shape of my life.
I’ve dreamed of doing Kona for years. Those dreams have included training with my run/swim partner and then going to Kona with someone special to share it with.
That part of the story hasn’t happened and won’t be happening.
I’ve done all my swims and runs alone. My normal swim/run partner has been too busy. Most of my biking has been alone except for Saturdays: I have 2 bike buddies who ride with me. They’ve been amazing support and help.
A 5 year relationship ended just as I got into Kona. My partner had been my biggest supporter.
How was I going to training virtually alone–and push myself like I knew I had to–and how was I going to handle going to Kona solo–without a loved one at the finish?
I had to really search around my heart and my soul and see if I had it in me to do this. Kona is HUGE. Do I have IT?
While mulling over my ability to do this, I thought back to early 1983. That’s when I lost my leg to cancer. I believed I’d be fine. I went through chemo and believed it would end–and my hair would grow back. And I thought about losing my lung when the cancer metastasized. I believed I’d make it through that as well.
There was my answer. Of course I believe I can do this!!!! Nothing is more difficult than battling cancer……NOTHING.
And then I realized….I’m not alone. There are 28 + million people who’ve battled or are battling cancer and they’re with me during my training.
And all 28 million will be with me in my heart for each of the 140.6 miles I’ll travel on Oct. 13th–and we’ll be embracing OUR victory at the finish line.
LIVESTRONG is built on belief.
I believe in LIVESTRONG.
And I believe in me.