The thought of 16 minutes, 42 seconds is still swirling around my head.
In a way, I almost still don't believe it. I mean that's a good chunk of time to shave off. That's almost a half-hour TV show without commercials. That's almost like finishing the triathlon without stepping foot in the water.
16 minutes, 42 seconds. It's a lot of time.
And it's the time that I shaved off this year. I almost can't believe it.
But then I stop to think. And it doesn't seem so unrealistic to me. Because I'm a different person than I was a year ago. I'm almost back to the person I was in late 2007.
When I stepped up to the starting line at the 2008 Chicagoland Danskin Triathlon, it was six months after I learned The Monster was living in my head. Six months after living through an entire month that I honestly don't remember much of. Six months of treatment. Six months of lost energy. Six months of watching my fitness go down the drain. Six months after stepping on the treadmill for the first time after learning about The Monster and struggling through and almost dying while "running" a mile.
But even with all of the obstacles I faced, I still put the time in at the gym and got myself ready for the triathlon. I swam. I biked. And I even ran. I got myself ready for race day, not to finish with a super speedy time, but just to finish. To prove to myself that The Monster would not win.
And I did it. I swam. I biked. I ran. I was vivacious, just like Sally Edwards told me I would be. I crossed that finish line and I admit, I was half dead. I didn't have an ounce of energy left. But I was proud of what I did. I proved to myself that I could still do it and The Monster would not win. And I made others proud. I could see it in my Mom's eyes, tears glistening in the corners. She admitted to a few weeks ago that at that time, when I crossed the finish line that day in July 2007, others probably thought I was one of the cancer survivors, because that's what I looked like.
I was a survivor. Not of the cancer variety. But of The Monster variety.
Fast forward to last weekend when I lined up for the same race.
A year later I have beaten The Monster. He's no longer living in my head and I no longer have to take the medicine to get him to go away. I'm back to running regularly without dying, and have even started to increase my mileages a bit. Still biking - at faster speeds - and still swimming. But now, instead of feeling completely drained everyday, I have energy.
I keep going. I want to keep going.
I feel good when I finish. Just like I felt good Sunday when I crossed the line. I finished strong and could have kept going. And this year? I didn't look the cancer survivor part either. I look like me. The Badgergirl that existed in the fall of 2007 before The Monster took up residence in my head.
When I think about all of that, it doesn't seem so unrealistic that I shaved 16 minutes, 42 seconds off my time from last year. Because even though I'm the same person, I'm a different person. I'm a Badgergirl without The Monster in my head.
Guess it goes to show you a year can make quite a difference.