Tri Flyer

toft poster

There is a line in all those waivers we sign that mentions using your likeness in promotional materials. I never thought much about it until I saw my picture on the flyer for the Trail of Tears Triathlon in Cape Girardeau. While it is flattering and a bit exciting, it is also humbling. The camera doesn’t lie. I hadn’t seen this picture until a friend texted me a copy of the flyer.

I really like the picture. Oh sure, I would prefer that my arms didn’t look so soft. But they do. The thing I like most about the picture is it captures one of my favorite moments of the race. I have exited the lake and am on my way to the first transition. The race is underway and I have had a good swim. Nothing bad has happened yet, my energy reserves are still stocked and nothing has clouded my positive attitude. This feeling, this exact moment is one of the reasons I love this sport. Endorphins and adrenalin are coursing through my body and lactic acid has not yet found my quads. Anticipation and possibility have told reality to take a seat. No wonder triathlon is addictive.

There is a bit more, personally, that makes this picture so special. In 2013, the Trail of Tears was my first triathlon in over twenty years. I had dabbled in this fledgling sport many years and miles from the event in southeast Missouri. My return to triathlon was a memorable failure that left me with two choices. Get better or walk away.

During this reunion event, I swam pretty fast, but not very straight. I took my time transitioning to my Roadmaster Mountain Bike and was somehow able to climb out of the Lake Boutin parking lot. From that point forward, I pedaled hard as everybody else on two wheels passed me. Everybody. I stopped counting at 50. It was a slow and painful 15 mile bike ride. Somehow there was a small victory during the run as I passed a couple people in the shaded, downhill stretch at the end of the race. I’m not sure if it was there or at that magical place after the swim, but something got to me and made me want to return. I couldn’t walk away. I had to get better. That was the start of this journey I’m on.

The other thing that makes the picture on the flyer special to me is that I watched the 2016 Trail of Tears race with my arm in a sling. I had planned to race, but a bicycle accident in August changed those plans. From the sidelines I cheered for my daughter and friends who were racing. So, there was great joy in being able to compete again in 2017. It was also nice to cut a couple minutes off my previous best time for the course.

September 8 is marked on my calendar. As long as I stay healthy and injury-free, I’ll be at the Coors Light Trail of Tears Triathlon. Cape Girardeau Parks and Recreation does a great job of organizing and staffing the race. Fresh grilled burgers at the end are an excellent feature of the post race meal. Look me up if you’re there. I’ll be the guy with the big smile as he comes out of the lake.


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