I raced my first half Ironman in May 2013 in Haines City, Florida. It was a chance for my mother, stepdad and my bestie to come and see me race. I had just moved to the UK and wanted a warm venue for my first venture into middle distance. The weather did not disappoint.
As a surprise, my mother gave everyone their own set of pom-poms to cheer me on with.
The race went on, I suffered (as you do in the heat and during your first HIM), but I finished. My mother didn’t understand why I chose to take on these endurance events, but she supported me none the less.
She stood there waving her pom-poms the whole race, as moms do, supporting their kids…no matter what.
Fast forward to 2015 and I completed my first 2 Ironmans (3 months apart, yeah .. I know…). During IM Louisville my mother stood out on the race course with her pom-poms. When I had a meltdown on the bike at mile 72 (the IM volunteers lost my nutrition and I had a slight panic) she told me to ‘keep going.’ So I did. She waved those pom-poms when the I felt battered and exhausted on the run portion of that race.
Since completing my first HIM my mom always said to me ‘I have the pom-poms out to cheer you on’ or ‘the pom-poms are out’. Whether I was doing any kind of race or giving a talk to hundreds or thousands of people for work, my mom always got out the pom-poms for me.
My mother passed away this past December, I lost my biggest fan. When I arrived at her house I searched through every corner of the house for the beloved pom-poms. Nothing. Nada. Can’t find them. I asked my stepdad where they could be, he hadn’t a clue. I asked my sister-in-law, she couldn’t believe my mother would get rid of them. We cannot find the beloved pom-poms.
I am sitting in Florida at this home, clearing out her things. We still cannot find those pom-poms.
As part of this trip back to the US I decided to race. Today I came first in my age group at the Bradenton Tri Festival draft legal sprint triathlon.
I’ve never done a draft legal race, but I felt compelled to race at Benderson Park, one of my mother’s favorite places to walk her dogs over the years. This race was special to me. Placing wasn’t important, remembering my mother and her pom-poms were.
I raced with my heart today, with the memory of my mom and her pom-poms thwarting me along the course in 7 degree (Celsius) weather with some nasty little headwinds. She was there with me. This race was for mom.
I miss her telling me she’s cheering me on, but it’s time that we cheered her on with pom-poms. My mother was strong and full of fire, it is absolutely where I get it from. She fought until the end, until the cancer consumed her.
Hey mom, the pom-poms are cheering you on.