Last week brought with it the fifth race of my duathlon season, a strong outing at Guelph Lake II that resulted in a third place Age Group medal, a top 15% finish overall, and some restored pride in my abilities.
More on the race and results later — but in short, this could easily have served as the final race of the Team McKnapp season. I’ve completed more races than I had intended (which was four), made some progress and endured a few difficulties along the way. My body is reminding me that we’re 42 now, and that recovery is a requirement, not an option. The ever-patient Chef d’équipe has let it be known that she, too, is tired of races.
And let’s face it, wrapping up “at home” on the Saturday of Labour Day weekend would make a nice ending point.
But there is still a bit more to be done.
Today marked Lightning McQueen’s final chemo session. The last few have been tougher than the ones before, remarkably so. So it would make sense that Joanne’s excitement about wrapping up the chemotherapy portion of her cancer treatment was also marked with trepidation about having another couple of weeks of misery from that treatment. And maybe even trepidation about the next course of treatment itself. Understandably so.
A mind-boggling schedule of radiation awaits Joanne, as do other forms of treatment and follow-ups. But this final round of chemo marks a huge milestone. The grit and determination of this woman and her family as they persevere from one set of unknowns to the other is admirable.
As Joanne rang the bell exiting her treatment today, she entered the bell lap.
The bell lap, in many race events, is the final lap – the one in which racers know just how far they have come and how far they have to go. Whether it’s a 400, 1200 or 10000 metre race, whether running, cycling, or swimming, the bell lap is where competitors dig deep and find the last reserves they have to bear down to the finish line.
So for Joanne, one more lap.
And for me, as one small gesture of support, it’s one more race – the sixth of the summer – a bell lap for Joanne. Saturday morning, I’ll tackle Multisport Canada’s Lakeside sprint duathlon. I have no idea how this race will go, given what I laid out in last week’s event. It’s a short race, which means finding a fast gear early and staying in it. And for this friend I call Lightning, it’s got to be nothing short of top gear.
I can guarantee that every single cowbell and bell a spectator rings on Saturday will be bringing to mind (and heart) the incredible strength of this friend of mine – and everyone else I know who has gone through chemo and rung that bell on their way out.
The fight for one’s life isn’t a chosen one. But takes a tremendous strength and fortitude to stay in the race, from the first lap all the way to the finish line.
It’s your bell lap, and you’ve got this, Lightning. You’ve so got this.