One More Day
by Andrea Peet
I assumed Ramblin’ Rose Chapel Hill in 2014 would be my last triathlon ever. That’s because I’d just received confirmation of my diagnosis with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), which has a 2-5 year life expectancy. It’s a cruel neurological disease which takes away a person’s ability to walk, talk, eat, move any muscle, and breathe…and that’s when they die. Look at me: I had done half Ironman the year before at the age of 32, but a year later, I was walking with a cane.
Even with all the things ALS already had taken – my normal voice, my dreams of becoming a mom, growing old with my husband – the loss of triathlon still stung. I had only discovered it a couple of years before, but I loved the challenge, the sweaty exhaustion after a hard workout. So I was grateful to get a taste of racing again, even for one more day.
At packet pickup, I said to the race director, Amy Charney, “feel free to pack up everything. I’ll finish eventually.” But the Endurance team didn’t do that. Although my best friend Julie and I came in last by almost an hour, the race organizers held open the finish line for us and the Tri It ladies led everyone in a dance party while they waited. As I trekked slowly towards the finish line, with Julie and my husband David supporting each elbow, everyone clapped and cheered. I wrote afterwards that “people say I inspired them, but it is nothing compared to what reverberated through me from all sides. It was the very best of humanity.” I will cherish the memory always.
Fast forward two years and I’m getting ready to race Ramblin’ Rose Raleigh this weekend…say what?! No one is more surprised than me that I am still strong enough to do this. One more day that I can be out there with the sun on my face, celebrating what my body can do with a joyous, grateful heart. I am thankful that Ramblin’ Rose is so inclusive of disabled athletes. It’s sure not the case everywhere.
This year, I’m racing with Team Drea. When I figured my triathlon days were over, I encouraged my friends and family to do a race that represented a challenge to them and raise money for ALS. Team Drea has now grown to 100 members and has donated more than $100,000 to ALS research!
So if you see lime green shirts out on the course, give an extra cheer for Team Drea – for many of them, it’s their first triathlon. I’m so excited for them and thrilled to make something positive come out of the horrific monster that is ALS.