Among the fun and festivities of the fall, Thanksgiving, and Halloween, October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. This is something that is so often not spoken about, as so many are unsure how to support friends or family who have experienced a miscarriage, or lost a baby.
In the past few months, we have followed Kelly’s story of training for her first “Give It A Tri” triathlon, while fundraising for her friends Tim and Lindsay who lost their baby boy, Damian, and subsequently started Damian’s Campaign in his honour. You can go back to Kelly’s first blog and read more about Damian’s Campaign here. In honour of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, we encourage you to revisit Kelly’s journey, and enjoy this, the final chapter of Kelly’s triathlon for Damian’s Campaign:
The day before the race I was very nervous. It was all I could think about. I kept looking at the clock, counting the number of hours. But, I was also feeling excited. I had trained hard and was ready to do it. Thankfully, it was a warm, calm and clear morning so I didn’t have to stress about choppy water, my biggest fear.
There were a variety of people, all chatting and smiling and thankfully many were in the same position I was and had never done a triathlon before. But, as the time got closer and I racked my bike and got my timing chip and body markings, I got more and more nervous. As I walked to the beach where I would swim with Danielle, my trainer, my stomach was flip flopping. The buoys that I had to swim around looked so far away. As far as I was concerned this would be the biggest challenge and I had poured all my energy into training for the swim. Matthew and my family were just about there (it’s hard to get 2 little boys and grandparents up and to an island beach via ferry for 8am). It’s probably a good thing they weren’t there when I had to get into the water or I would have been a mess. I felt like I was on the verge of tears. Not because I was scared, but because of all the anticipation. At 8:15am the announcer called the women in my age category to enter the water and gave us some final instruction. Before I knew it, he was saying “90 seconds ladies”. It was time to perform. I faced the challenge ahead and when I heard the shot ring out, I jumped in. The first 25 strokes or so were fine. It was a little difficult swimming with all the people around me, but I found my spot and continued. When I looked up to find the first buoy however, it still looked VERY far away and I was surrounded by people. I had to find a pace and fast because there were women in front, beside and behind me. I had to keep going. Then, I got kicked in the side by someone doing the breaststroke. Then, a strong swimmer came up beside me and kind of pulled my shoulder as she went past. I gulped the water and stopped and choked and a bunch of others went around me. I was a bit panicked and I still wasn’t half way to the first buoy. I held back a while longer and let the first pack go around me. I mentally told myself that I was doing it. It was happening now and that I knew I was okay. I put my head down and found my pace. I got out of the water with about 20 people behind me. Finally, the part that was scaring me most was over. As I ran up the beach I saw my oldest son (about to turn 5) and my dad cheering. It was an amazing feeling! I still feel so good about the example I was setting for him. Now I was ready to bike.
I got to the transition area and before I knew it I was on the road. After pouring my heart into the swim training, the bike was definitely very difficult. I was pretty exhausted about halfway through and a lot of people had passed me. At one point, there was nobody else around. I mean nobody. I thought to myself “have I gone off the course?” But, a couple minutes later, I saw the pylons for the end of the bike portion. As I jumped off my bike to run it into the transition area, my knees completely gave out. Danielle had warned me that I would be feeling wobbly after the bike but, I didn’t realize how wobbly. I’m lucky that I didn’t fall. I hobbled past my family and Danielle and an unexpected friend had arrived as well. I took off for the run. Well, in my mind I wanted to take off but, my legs were very shaky. I really couldn’t seem to make them move. As I left a grassy area to get on the road, things felt better, but I still had a long road ahead. I had certainly done some running before, but not after a 400m swim in the lake and a bike race. Two laps later, I was on my way to the finish line. I was almost done. It seemed to creep up on me. Was Danielle really there yelling “500m to go Kelly” “Push It” “You’re Almost Done!”? As I looked over and saw my boys on the sideline smiling and clapping, I realized it was done. I ran through the finish line and heard them announce my bib number: “428 has crossed the finish line”. I was panting, laughing, crying, and celebrating. I left the area to find the open arms of Danielle, my family and friends. I am proud to report that I completed the triathlon in 1 hour and 27 seconds. A personal best
I’m also happy to report that after all that training, I decided I should put it to good use and did a second “Give It A Tri” in Guelph Lake the following weekend. It was a much harder course with lots of big hills on the bike course and it started in the heat of the day at 1pm (that’s my excuse anyway. I completed it in 1 hour, 2 minutes and 38 seconds. But, plan to “tri” it again next year.
It was a lot of hard work to get to this point. As you will recall, in the beginning it was all I could do to avoid the food temptations and get to the gym to do some moderate exercise twice a week. It was really tough to be motivated enough, especially at the beginning, as the reality of the triathlon seemed so far away. I received endless support from close friends and family and received emails and phone calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years. Some of the best words of encouragement came from people that told me I inspired them or that hearing Damian’s story had touched them and made them count their blessings. That is priceless. I can’t thank Tim and Lindsay enough for allowing me to be part of their amazing campaign. I had a goal to raise $2500 and surpassed that target by raising $3150. My fundraising page will soon be replaced with Tim and Lindsay launching this year’s Damian’s Campaign to coincide with Damian’s 2nd birthday with an overall goal to raise $50,000. If you would like to contribute please visit Damian’s Campaign at Holland Bloorview.
All of us at bebo mia send our most heartfelt congratulations to Kelly for totally rocking this exceptional personal challenge and act of kindness and support to her friends Tim and Lindsay in honouring their son Damian and his campaign. For those of you who have followed Kelly’s journey and have donated to Damian’s Campaign, we thank you! If you would still like to learn more about Damian’s Campaign and how you can contribute, please visit Kelly’s link to the campaign at Holland Bloorview. Let us all be reminded, especially this month, that there is no greater loss than losing a child. If you would like more information on bereavement services, or bebo mia’s Grief and Loss Workshops on supporting friends or family through times of loss, please contact [email protected].
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