Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Liberty Ladies (Part Two)

(Warning** : This is Part Two of a two-part picture-laden story of five strong and courageous Liberty Ladies who participated in the Liberty to Liberty Triathlon, taking ourselves from the Statue of Liberty in New York City to the Liberty Bell/Museum of Art in Philadelphia.)

OK. Sorry for leaving you hanging but there were a lot of pictures to share to tell this story and I know there are still friends out there with slow download speeds who curse my blog for its download time -- I was trying to be sensitive for once...

And, why was the swim canceled? They claimed weather but it was a beautiful morning so I posted my opinion at the bottom of this post for those who are interested in reading it, if you'd like...

OK, back to our story...after our start, we bikers headed out onto the roads of New Jersey...and it was beautiful, horse country. The ride was not hilly but it was hot and humid that day and we had a fairly strong headwind.

That's where this Liberty angel comes in.


This is my friend Laurie -- those of you who have been reading since last Summer might recognize her and Maura from their triumph over the Lake Placid Ironman. And Maura was also that doll of a friend who did this...

Well, Laurie is just plain tough -- physically and mentally. She is a powerful athlete, having competed in marathons and triathlons for over five years or so. And, God bless her, Laurie had appointed herself my "wing man" for the day -- she wasn't leaving this wounded bird no matter how slow I became -- no way, no how. Oh, how I love her.

OK. So I just wanted to make it the whole way to Philly without being picked up by a support van. I wanted to ride into the city and experience the feeling of finishing...

Maura and her sister Carolgene were biking ahead of us -- Carolgene had been training since January and she was in prime physical condition and wanted to push herself to see how well she could do -- and luckily, my other friend Abby had her friend to ride with too so I didn't need to worry about slowing anyone else down -- well, because I had Laurie. And Laurie, could have rocked this course and probably placed first, but she chose not to.


I was able to ride behind Laurie for most of the ride. That means, that Laurie took the brunt of the wind, and I was able to draft off of her making the workload on that hip of mine much less. It did, however, make itself known the entire trip and I would have to stop every 8 miles or so and jump off my bike and stretch by the side of the road...


I was praying to reach every rest stop so that I could get off, relieve the pressure on my hip, stretch out -- oh yeah, and sing patriotic songs to the volunteers at all the stops. That was a HUGE highlight! We could keep track of each other because the volunteers would report which songs our friends had sung and tell us how far ahead they were.

Anyway, I made it to Philly, thanks to Laurie. Did I mention how much I love her? We arrived at the base of the Ben Franklin bridge and had to carry our bikes up this flight of stairs...


Then it was time to bike across the bridge into Philadelphia...


-- and from here on out it was Glorious!! Imagine our delight, when we rounded the fountain at the traffic circle

And saw this!


We arrived at the Philly Museum steps, racked our bikes and headed to the changing tent. I was so relieved we made it in time. We were required to start the run by 4:45 and we had made it by about 4:20 or so...

Laurie was changed in 15 seconds and out of the tent to start her run. I was popping 800 mg of Ibuprofen and hoping for the best.

I emerged from the tent prepared to run but every time my left heel hit the ground, I had a shooting pain in my hip -- I didn't think that was good so I had to walk. Well, at least I could walk, right?

Except nobody else was walking...I had taken my camera and caught sight of all the Liberty Ladies out on the run course. It was a beautiful trail that went alongside the river and back. I took pictures of all the Ladies and was very proud for their efforts.


Then I was alone. For miles 2 through 4, I didn't see anyone I knew. My hip was hurting and I was sad that I was wounded and, I'm ashamed to admit, I started to cry. I was tired from the ride, I was worried about my hip and I was disappointed that I couldn't run with all the Ladies...and the tears came and I couldn't stop them. All the sudden, a man rounded the bend and was running toward me and I panicked because I didn't want him to see my crying. What a sight! A crying Lady Liberty.

Then, I started to giggle. Now, he would see an uncontrollably giggling, crying Lady Liberty and that made me laugh even harder...

Snap out of it, Susan! I thought to myself... I'm a Liberty Lady through and through and I can't let a self-pity party bring all the Ladies down. I have to represent. If I was going out...I'd go out with pride. Even if I am going to be the last one.

And then I realized how it must feel to those who do races and come in last...it's not easy. In fact, I think it takes more courage to do a race knowing you may not make it or you might come in last than it does to do a race hoping you will do it better than last time...

And, as I was thinking about all of that, I saw this wonderful thistle plant by the side of the path and started to think about the symmetry of the bud and how I might stitch it....


And then I met another angel named Rich who was also walking and he kept me company for the next two miles until my Liberty friends ran out to get me and bring me home. Aren't they wonderful?


Rich and I ran for 50 feet just to cross the finish line and look good for the pictures! (we all know it's all about the pictures...)


And, here we are the Liberty Ladies at the Finish Line --


and one of the volunteers yells..."We love our Liberty Ladies!" and another one yells back..."Hey, they're in Philly now...shouldn't they be Liberty Belles?"

And we laughed. Hey, we're willing to be whatever our fan base needs us to be...

We couldn't leave without running up the steps...


Celebrating at the top...a la Rocky


and posing with the man who made the Museum steps famous...


And I took away two big thoughts for the day...

The first -- it may sound hokey, but it's true...

Anything is possible when you have good friends.

And when they happen to be channeling the energy and spirit of our Lady Liberty...then the sky's the limit.

And second --

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

A positive approach, big smiles, spreading good cheer and tattoos and stickers, singing to the volunteers, savoring the moments, being thankful for the opportunity and sticking by your friends -- that's what makes the world go 'round.

Just as we were coming back down the steps, and collecting our bikes to leave for the day, the last participant crossed the finished line.

It was Proud Mary from Seattle, number 111. Laurie turned to me and said, "Hey, look Susan, it's Mary!" and we all screamed for Mary and her accomplishment -- But Proud Mary was smiling...even though she was last...

As we drove back down the Turnpike to go home, weary and happy -- we stopped to change our sweaty, smelly clothes at a rest station.

And as we left to drive the rest of the way home, the Ladies were still wearing their crowns.


Liberty Ladies 'til the end...

[You can view the entire set of pictures here on my Flickr album...

[And for those who asked...


Why Was the Swim Canceled? Originally, they had us swimming out of Battery Park -- Two weeks before the race, they notified us that the swim had been moved down to Hoboken Beach...Well, to be honest, you can't even see the Statue of Liberty from Hoboken Beach...And, the race takes you with the river current for half the swim and then returning against the current. If you can't time the swim to be during a slack tide then, no matter how good a swimmer you are, swimming AGAINST the current in the Hudson River is next to impossible. My guess is that they realized after changing the venue that they were not going to be able to have a swim start at a slack tide...They had a very small window to work within since the bike start was set in stone and they were working through 23 New Jersey municipalities to get officers to support the ride at intersections etc. So, the bike ride HAD to start on time...
So, their choice was probably to start the swim, and then end up pulling more than 80% of people out of the water and onto boats because the current was going to be too strong (this would be very expensive because they would have to pay the Coast Guard and other official boats to pull us out) or cancel it. Also, to hold a swim, they have to close the shipping channel for the duration of the swim, have the Coast Guard on hand not to mention all of the kayakers and other personnel they have in the water to make sure they don't lose anyone...An open water swim is an expensive proposition, so in New York, you can see how there might end up being one hundred reasons why they wouldn't have it...like, it could have been related to catching that group of terrorists that were trying to start a jihad by bombing various New York mosques...
They never really gave us the straight story which led me to believe that it either had to do with money or something they weren't at liberty to share...]

And, if you're still here at the end of all this, thanks for reading our story...

29 comments:

coral-seas said...

I waited to the end to post my comment. I knew you would make it no matter what. What a woman!

You have the most awesome friends. When I originally read how Maura arranged your race number, I wept. I click your link, read the post again and yes, I wept again. (I get strange looks from my collegues when I read your blog, they are not sure if they should comfort me or give me some privacy!)

Well done all of you for finishing. Hugs to Laurie for sticking by you throughout the ride. And a big shout out to Proud Mary, a true hero.

CA

a2susan said...

You Liberty Ladies and Belles are the best! Your cooperative spirit and cheering each other on is wonderful. And you brought home the best prize of all...friendship!

I hope you give your hip some tender loving care.

Hugs,Susan

Allison Ann Aller said...

Brilliant and wonderful story here!!!!

Susan, you know how to live life to the fullest.....deepest congratulations to all of you Awesome Liberty Ladies!!!!

Maureen in MD said...

What a totally awsome story. Echoing someone in a previous comment - you really should consider writing for your next gig.
I like how you got it related to stitching by observing the thistle.
I happened to be lucky enough to have seen you several times and know what a Lady of Libery you are.
Thank you again for sharing such a wonderful experience.

Heather J. said...

You did a WONDERFUL job! Congratulations!

Marty52 said...

So wonderful to have such friends! What a great race you "ran", Ms. Susan... you are something else and so are your Liberty Ladies! I hope your hip gets better, do be careful, 'K?

verobirdie said...

You and your friends are the best! And Proud Mary too.
How is your hip doing? And when will you start the thristle embroidery?

Cathy K said...

What a great heart-warming story, Susan! I knew you would/could do it! Your friends all sound like gems; you all deserve those crowns in more than one way. Congratulations on a fun and memorable trip (not to mention blog post). We love you! Hugs, Cathy

paulahewitt said...

well done! i should have run with you...i would have made you look good :) and i dont have a injured hip.

Bobbi Pohl said...

What an experience! It's just you to make a great and joyful story from one with disappointment in it. Be well. Hope to see you soon.

Judy S. said...

Kudos to the Liberty Ladies! What an amazing adventure! Take care of that hip of yours, OK? And Congratulations on your finish..all of you!

MargB said...

Congratulations - hope that hip holds good - it certainly got a one amazing workout!

Tammy said...

Wow, I so admire you and your friends for a tough job well done. I'm sorry to hear about your hip pain and sorry that it got you down for a little bit. What you did, pain and all is quite an accomplishment - Be Proud and Stand Tall, you did it!! I have known hip pain and a hip replacement, so I felt your pain as you described it and I marvel at how you were able to overcome it and do the race. Wow, all I can say is WOW, you're amazing!!

lei said...

I don't know you but damn! I sure do admire you. You make me proud to be a woman.

Elmsley Rose said...

Thankyou for your wonderful account.

Nellie's Needles said...

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing your adventure as well as misadventure with us.

FredaB said...

Congratulations Susan. You are a champ first or last. What a wonderful group of gals the Liberty Ladies are and especially the gal that stayed with you throughout the bike ride. Also Proud Mary made it. That by the way is one of my favorite songs. Even at my age when I hear that I start moving.

Stay at home now and take care of that hip so you will be ready for the next big one.

You are my renaissance gal.
You are interested in everything and do it well.
What a joy you make of life.

Hugs

FredaB

Camilla La Mer-Art Dolls said...

Congratulations, Susan!!! I feel like I was on the run with you...Liberty hat and all. What an amazing and wonderful journey. Sorry about your nagging hip!

Thanks for your welcoming back comments on my blog. It is so much fun to catch up with all of you!

xoxo Camilla

Lynn said...

I'm crying and laughing and smiling. Thank you so much for sharing this journey. I can't wait to see you stitch that bud.

Carol said...

Well, you were right. I got a cup and made time to sit down and enjoy the post, and I DID enjoy it. You are such a great story teller.

Funny, the thing that stuck in my mind after reading, first was your dedicated friend Laurie. She is the epitome of a best friend. Second, your commitment to completion which is so much in your character.

Since I have a siatic condition, I can identify with the hip pain.

Another accomplishment. You are so versitile!

Debra said...

You crack me up! It looks like such a fun adventure with all your buddies! You are awesome!

Wanda said...

Oh Susan..you are my hero! I cried and laughed and bit my lip throughout your 2part post. Congratulations! And yes, you are very blessed to be so loved and to love so much. You inspire me and make me think of my own accomplishments in a different light. The two big thoughts you walked away with are really...big. Thank you for putting them in words...we all need to read them, remember them, think about them. Oh...and you guys made me very proud to be an American...a feeling that is extra sweet to this one who lives abroad!

Lisa said...

Wow! You go girl!!! To have completed that with your hurting hip is quite a feat! What great friends you have! Such a great example of the best kind of teamwork. So cool! What an inspiration you are!

freebird said...

I not only read this but I read Part 1 also. Way to go. I think you are right in that it takes more courage to keep going when you are the last people or hurting so much but you did it! Way to go girl! It's really good to have a friend to stick with you but look at those two men - instant buddies because you were in the same boat.

Maura said...

I love reading your blog, it was like I was there. Well, even though I was...your perspective is always way more enlightening, entertaining, and engaging. If I may take the liberty of saying...you rock more than Rocky and I am so honored and proud to be your friend.

Ati. Norway. said...

O, my, congratulations, you made it :))

black bear cabin said...

YOU ROCK!!! I loved the photos and the journey...hurrah for you :)

Chris said...

a wonderful post Susan. I'm so glad you made it to the finish line with the help of your fair ladies. Heal quickly!

Gena said...

Susan...I think we got the abridged version on the way to book club;-) Here's a big hug from me for your tears of pain & triumph...and number 111...WOW! I'm proud of you!

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