At a yoga class, Angela Orozco (Yoga instructor, Life Coach, and key member of Brickell Bikes Cycling Community) asked me to stack my knees...something that as a (VERY STIFF) endurance runner of almost 30 years, seemed like an impossible feat, but when I looked up at Angela, she said...
"Embrace where you are...It’s okay to be uncomfortable".
Those words stuck in my mind for a few days. When it came time to put together our Team to race the KB Trilogy #2 (July 24th 2021) with Brett Atwood, our team extended the invite to Angela to join us on our TRI-venture....and I didn't even have to remind Angela that it was okay to be uncomfortable---she willingly and enthusiastically embraced the opportunity.
Though Angela has never participated in a triathlon before and barely knew what she was signing up for, she paused, took a breath, and said yes to what the universe was placing in her path.
Angela agreed to pull Brett for the Bike leg of the relay with Maricamen Saleta (RUN LEG), a seasoned triathlete, and myself, Valeria (SWIM LEG). The thing is that Brett can't race alone. Brett was born with Cerebral Palsy-- a type of mobility disorders that affect a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture.
He borrows our arms and legs to race, all the while fueling our hearts and reminding all those competing that where there is a will, there is always a way.
Saturday (the day before the race), we went for a practice run (or ride I should say). Angela attached Brett’s trailer to her bike and looped around the parking lot to get a feel for that bike attachment. Soon after, Brett jumped in and, the rest, well, it was all smiles from then on.
Sunday, we arrived at Crandon Park ready to compete with all the other athletes excited to take on the day. From beginning to end, it was challenging (but it's all part of experience). Maybe some food for thought for some of the abled bodied athletes, take some time to reflect on on the parts of the race course that you may take for granted--steps, sand, curves and tight turns, bumps, U-turns, grass--you name it---they may not be a big deal to you, but to our team, we had to plan (and sometimes get creative) on how to make our way through. We did it willingly, because we get to see life through Brett's eyes in these moments.
To some this race may not have been a big deal, to others it may have been an emotional (fleeting) moment, and to even a few it may have been a moment of pause and reflection, but to those of us who know Brett, WE KNOW HOW INVALUABLE this race was. Brett is in the process of waiting for a kidney donor and match---( READ MORE OF BRETT's STORY)
Though he loves racing and lives for Bon Jovi Blaring off his trailer on race days as he swims, bikes, and runs with us...he may not have too many more chances to participate in these events if he starts dialysis. It may be uncomfortable to read or hear, but it’s the truth that Brett faces.
So often we switch out from or shy away from things that make us feel uncomfortable, things that may be hard, and things that are unfamiliar, but it’s in those moments where we can lean into the lessons, open up to the universe, and embrace the opportunity to grow.
We race with Brett to give him the opportunity to compete, but also to raise awareness for the different realities that athletes with differently abled bodies face.
We race to share moments that make us uncomfortable--because it's in these moments that we are reminded that it's OKAY to be uncomfortable. It's friends like Angela that remind us to make space in our lives for new opportunities. It's friends like Mari that remind us that these moments of discomfort are where we can dig deeper to push our limits by reframing the situation in front of us. And it's friends like Brett who remind us that every step is worth treasuring, taking, and embracing.
This race was was one more medal to add onto Brett's medal rack (and the longest finishline walk to date for our champ) and one more reminder that:
Life will have its challenges which we will get through, one breath at a time.
Life will try to distract us, but we should always focus our gaze on the course ahead.
Life will give us a chance to pull from our core and find strength from deep within to get to where we want to go.
Life will remind us to embrace where we are, who we are with, and what we get to accomplish when we work together.
To all of those who helped, assisted, moving things or pushing things, and offered us assistance in any way---THANK YOU--These races TAKE A VILLAGE!
To Angela who raced with us for the first time--- WELCOME to the #TEAMBRETT framily.
To Mack Cycle who sponsored our team, you make it possible for our team to share these experiences.
To those of you in the community who captured some of these special moments---thank you for sharing your talents and lenses with us ( Special thanks to @RawEndurance @BrickellBikes)
To the competitors and spectators on the course who cheered, smiled, and shared a "thumbs up" with us, YOU made BRETT and our teams (there were 2 other adaptive athlete relay teams competing with Kerry & Eli) feel loved and welcomed on the course.
“My dream is that someday we can have a kind of community life where we push and help each other to win" -Ivan Fernandez Anaya
To all those who may be struggling in one way or another, EMBRACE WHERE YOU ARE...keep in mind that for some of us stacking our knees in yoga may feel impossible, for others placing one foot in front of the other to cross a finish line may feel like a monumental feat, but know that we are all finding our footing in one way or another...and that as long as we don't give up trying, we are headed in the right direction.
Namaste Friends, hopefully we will get to see you on a race course soon.
PS. If you would like to learn more about Brett's Journey, feel free to read and share HIS STORY.