And just to the south of Your Comfort Zone is my secret underground lair on Cedar Island. I cropped it out for security purposes.
Two good friends did some incredible things on Sunday, stepping outside their comfort zones. I was fortunate to be a part of both events. Here’s your daily helping of courage.
Stef, with Jelly Bean, before the race
In the morning, I cheered on my friend Stefani DeSatnick as she completed her first triathlon. Stef owns a yoga studio in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. I am there at least once per week getting my ass handed to me. It’s one of my hardest workouts all week. I hear chaturanga in my nightmares. Stef is yoga instructor who also played competitive tennis for years, has run marathons, and can stand-up paddle board for miles. She has always been a bad-ass athlete. But swimming and biking were new to her, and putting all three disciplines together on a very hot day in the summer took some courage.
Stef chose her hometown race, the Stone Harbor Triathlon, as her first. Stone Harbor is sprint: 1/4 mile bay swim, 10 mile bike, 5k run. It’s short, but brutal. It’s always hot and humid, the bike course is crowded with lots of sharp turns and is open to traffic, and there is absolutely no shade on the run. That day, I watched a woman finish the race and vomit simultaneously. And the big kids showed up in force. Most of my teammates were there, plus race director Stephen del Monte, Marky Mark Brace, Greg Kaplan, and some teenager with USA across his butt who ran them all down in the last 100 yards to win.
Stef came across the finish line thrilled and exhausted. It only took a few minutes of sitting in the shade and a few cups of cold water dumped over her head for her to recover and feel proud. I remember being nervous as hell before my first race. I was terrified of getting kicked or punched during the swim, crashing on the bike, melting on the run. Stef showed up and crushed it like a boss.
The light in me honors the bad-ass in you, Stef.
After cheering on Stef, I hit the road to Atlantic City. That day, AC was the finish line for the Irish Pub Tour de Shore, a 65-mile charity ride from the Philly Irish Pub to the AC Irish Pub. My friend Jenn Wismer was convinced to participate by some of her coworkers from Macy’s. I have known Jenn for nearly 10 years. She is also teammate of mine, this time on the basketball court. For nearly a decade, I played with the coolest group of women in various women’s leagues on our team, Horizontal Displacement. We were good at basketball, but better at playing music trivia at the bar for free beer. It’s good to know your talents. Jenn’s talent was bombing from the three-point line.
Jenn stepped waaaay out of her comfort zone for this event. Although she is life-long athlete, she didn’t own a bike, let alone ride one. I lent her my daughter’s straight-bar road bike in the spring. She trained with friends on the weekends. On the day of the event, I rode the course backwards from AC and met her about 11 miles from the finish. She had lost her Macy’s friends and had ridden most the course herself. She did more work riding 55 miles by herself than I did riding nearly 100 miles from PA to NJ back in May. That is because no one knows how to latch onto someone’s wheel like me. I am the suckerfish of a group ride.
But I digress. At mile 55, she was hurting. It was miserably hot and we faced a decent headwind. The torrent of f-bombs started at mile 60 and continued all the way into AC. We cursed the wind, the heat, the bike, her friends who convinced her to ride, potholes, etc. I think it was therapeutic. I pulled her to the finish line, where a mob of Jenn’s friends cheered her tremendous accomplishment. The event, now in it’s 28th year, raised over $100,000 for the families of fallen police officers. She was proud to have been a part of it. I was proud of her for pushing through exhaustion and pain and finishing with a smile.
As an experienced triathlete, you may read this and think a sprint and 65-mile ride sounds like a fun weekend. But for Stef and Jenn, these events represented opportunities to challenge themselves in new and scary ways. I’m so proud of my friends. It feels good to brag about them.
Guess what? Stef has already signed up for her second race, the Manland Invitational, which is next week. I’ll be there too, so she will show up in my race report. Jenn texted me a few days after her ride. The text said, “When are we going bike shopping?”
There’s the magic.