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I DID IT!!!!

PSSST: "Did you know that Joeann is going to do a Triathalon?"
"You've got to be kidding. I know Joeann and she's never run more than a mile in her life!"
"Yep! The same Joeann, but she's doing it for the Arizona Liver Foundation and it's really only a mini-Triathalon - 5 mile RUN, 10 mile BIKE, 3 mile HIKE."
"Oh my gosh, I'd pay money to see this!"
"Well, that's good because she has committed to raise $10,000!  Let's help her!"

$5635 was raised for the American Liver Foundation! -- Thank You!

YES......I DID FINISH!!!!!!!

In 4 hours 58 minutes:

6 Mile run/walk  |  3 Mile hike  |  5 Mile Bike

Here's The Rest of the Story.....

Saturday, February 9th dawned cloudy on Bocas del Toro, but as the day went by, the sun shone brightly and the temperature was in the high 80's and the humidity almost that high. As my roommate, Doreen, and I walked toward Dos Palmas Hotel for the start, I spied a $1 bill lying in the middle of the muddy street. I put it in my pocket for good luck.

At 9 AM, the triathlon began with 21 participants, ranging in age from mid-twenties to late fifties. I was the only woman over 50 amongst the group. The full run was 8.5 miles and the mini option allowed the participants to be shuttled to the five mile point. Three of us choose this option, but we got out of the taxi 6 miles from the end and started walking. At 5 miles out, I began to run along the road next to the beach and kept a slow but steady pace most of the way, stopping twice to walk for short distances. The rest station at the end was a welcome sight with fruit, energy bars and electrolyte charged water. 

The time from the start line, including the time in the taxi was 1hr 48 minutes.

I was briefed on the 3 mile hike and given a whistle, told there would be someone coming through after the last person went in. They said it would probably take about 1.5 to 2.5 hours to complete. The terrain was tropical rainforest. The sun had now come out and the temperature was around 85 degrees with 70+ humidity (not the dry AZ heat, this gal is used to). As I began the hike through a meadow, the ground turned muddy. The trail had been marked with bright pink spray paint every 50-60 feet, so there was no confusing how to go. Our briefing had included the information about the various snakes-none aggressive-but several poisonous. We were advised not to step on them!

The trail continued to gain in elevation. I went through the first of seven gates. I passed a thatched roof house on the top of a hill. Soon it began to look like something Indiana Jones might be found traversing.....a very narrow trail, steep hills up & down (200-300 ft at about an 80 degree angle) and MUD everywhere. 

I took out the note in my pocket with the following names: Nancy Brooks, Clementine Jones, Frank Halpen, John Hudson, Judy Taisch, Holly Riley, David A. Arthur, Nanette Carr Fitzgerald, Randy Sweeny. 

These were all folks related to someone who pledged money who have died or been afflicted with liver disease. I said a short prayer to ask their spirits to help me along the way because it was becoming clear this was not going to be your proverbial walk in the park!

Around the next bend, I saw another primitive house and a couple of small Indian kids came out. I said "Ola" and was greeted by them with the same and then a barrage of other words in Spanish I could not understand. In my halting Spanish I explained I only spoke "pocito" Spanish and asked then if they spoke Inglaise-to which they replied no. So, we walked along in silence with the boy who was about 7 or 8 and the girl who was about 4 or 5 keeping me between them. They were barefoot and traversed the trail like little mountain goats, scurrying easily through the mud and up and down the hills. In my crosstrainer shoes, I was sliding pretty badly. I noticed the boy was using a walking stick and realized that could help with the balance thing, so I found one for myself. I was beginning to realize I'd been sent some guides!

For the next half an hour, we walked mostly in silence. At one point the little girl asked me a question and the only word I could understand was plata. Thinking this to mean "silver", I tried to figure out what she was trying to communicate and thought maybe she was asking me for coins....I remembered the $1 in my pocket and said, "dinero?" She and her brother looked weirdly at me and said no, but I pulled out my dollar and the boy took it. I said,"por dos" meaning for him to share with his sister and he nodded.

I continued to follow them and then we went up a long hill that had a house on the top. The kids were greeted by an older girl (about 9 or 10) and scooted under the fence. I looked around for the pink arrows and to my dismay, saw them going through the pasture about 200-300 feet from where I was. I guess I had followed them home! 

So, I took off down the hill to get myself back on the trail and said goodbye. The trail continued through hilly terrain and soon I cam upon a church-3 open walls and one wall with an altar and lectern. There we three rows on wooden benches on each side. I stopped and laid down. I was not sure if I was going to make it. I thought I'd probably been walking for over an hour. After the 6 mile run and this exertion, my heart rate was high, I was hot and miserable and wanted nothing more than to say..."Oh, well, I tried." but it dawned on me that, though the race support team said they'd rescue us if we couldn't make it...there was no way out except to trek...I could do it now or I could do it later, but stopping and getting a ride was not an option. The terrain was to difficult for Jim's motorbike. So it was time for self-care and to take a break. As I lie there, I heard something. As I looked up I saw the boy and the older girl enter the structure and sit across from me and smile. 

I had electrolyte charged orange drink that I had put in my Camelpak at the last rest stop before the hike and an energy bar. I shared with them both. They were at first hesitant about sucking on the Camelpak but tried it and smiled. We sat for 10 minutes or so until I felt ready to go on and then I bid them goodbye. 

To my surprise, when I began to walk, they accompanied me. As we came through another gate (the 2nd of 7-oh my how far had I yet to go?) and neared the next set of radical hills, the boy found me a walking stick (I'd left the other at the church). We trekked up and down, through the mud. U did fall once, but was trying to be careful not to get mud all over me (if I had only known what the mud gods had in store, I might have given up my semblance of control and merrily slid down the hills). They would scurry up the hills in their bare feet and then look back and be patient with me, needing to stop a few times to make it up the hills. I definitely was not having fun! 

I was not sure I could make it, but took the advice I give my coaching clients when they are stuck...to just stay in action and keep taking baby steps in the direction of the goal. I thought it might take all day, but I decided to just keep moving forward. It was disheartening a couple of times when I had finally made it to what I thought was the top of the hill, only to see the trail curved and there was more to go. We went through a couple of more gates, finally, but I had lost track at that point. I heard a voice shouting Ola and recognized it as Doreens. I thought that I wasn't last and she was ok. I responded and she said something about the wrong way, but I assured her I was on the right path because I had pink arrows! She said later she worried I was seeing "white light" as well, not understanding the pink arrow reference being about the trail markers.

So we trekked on. Finally we went through a gate and there was a road.....it was really a jeep trail, but I realized this was the end of the hike...the kids went no further. They stopped as we went through. The older girl said something in Spanish and I told her yes I was ok and thank you and they disappeared back into the jungle the way we had come. I did ask Doreen later if she saw them.....and she assured me they were real. I am certain, though, they were angels sent as per my request for help.

The time in the rainforest was 1 hr 47 minutes-maybe the LONGEST 1 hr and 47 minutes of my life!

The rest station was a few hundred feet up the road. I had some fruit, more water and rested a bit. The next segment involved going through a cave where we were promised a "surprise". They said it was just up ahead, take a right and then it was on the left. The nurse that was supporting the event, Heather, and her 6 year old daughter, Evita, decided they wanted to go to the cave also, so we set out together, chatting and walking. I assumed they'd been there and did not pay any attention to following pink arrows. At one point, Evita said the cave is very far....thinking, again, she knew, I was cursing the race planners for duping us into thinking the cave was right there. We hiked and it was almost like being back on the rainforest trail- muddy and up hill. Finally after about 20 minutes, we came to the end of the trail and a fence. An Indian told us we could go no further. There were no pink arrows....we had just trekked way out of the way....

So we turned around and headed back. I rudely walked off, not waiting for them, trying to get back on the right course. It was the second time that day, I had blithely followed others without having sufficient awareness of whether I was on the right track or not! Finally close to the beginning I saw on the ground an arrow indicating a sharp turn and saw the cave. In our briefing we had been told there were places the water would be thigh deep and there were bats in the cave but that the cold water should feel good on our feet!

As I entered the cave and the world turn pitch black I heard some noises that sounded, not unlike rattlesnakes rattling. Figuring this must be the bats, I went forward, gingerly, not appreciating the cold water as a relief, but rather as a pretty scary environment. As my eyes adjusted, I saw a few candles flickering in the distance and made my way forward VERY SLOWLY. Soon I saw a figure perched on a rock ledge and said hello. This was our surprise-one of the Outward Bound staff was there with a present of a stone carved frog on a necklace. He handed me the frog and told me it symbolized fertility-not just in the manner of having children but in bring forth ideas and projects. In creativity. He said our walk through the cave and it's cold water allowed us to drop our burdens (and refresh ourselves from the work thus far) and go newly into the world creating freely. It was a very neat experience and stopped the chatter in my mind and allowed me to redirect my thoughts at the future. Leaving the cave, I was ready for the bike! He asked how many were behind me and I said Heather and her daughter and, oh, yes, Doreen. He said Doreen and Richard had just come through. That meant to me I was now last.

There was a choice at this point to do a 15 mile ride or a 5 mile ride. There was no question in my mind that 5 miles would be sufficient for me to feel I had "stretched" myself (after all, I had just hiked an addition 1.5 mi or so!), so I got on the bike, thinking it would be be mostly down hill. I also thought if I rode fast I could catch up to Doreen. Ah, assumptions can lead to disappointment....

Not too far along the route, I encountered a pretty steep hill that I had to dismount and walk the bike up. Although I was tired and had been exerting myself for over 4 hours now, the prospect of finishing was motivating. There were some ups and downs and mud was in ruts from the previous night's rain. I came to the top of a hill and could see some mud and ruts ahead, but it appeared to be packed by the tire tracks and so I let the bike fly down the hill and when I hit the first rut, the bike came to an abrupt halt, while I continued forward into the mud, head first. It was soft and I was not hurt but covered in about 2 inches of clay. This gave new meaning to "mud pak" spa treatments! My glasses were covered, my hair and ear were caked, I couldn't find a place on my shorts or shirt to wipe off. As I struggled to get up, the mud sucked my feet and shoes deeper and my balance was wobbly. A truck came round the bend, wanting to go through the dip and waited while I realized I need to move the bike, so he could pass. Finally after pulling my shoes off, I could move without the mud cementing me in place and got myself and the bike out of his way.

I found a puddle that had enough water in it, I could clean my glasses but they still had a filter of dirt and I had nothing to wipe them clean with. There had been a jeep coming the other way, which now pulled up beside me and Sherry, another triathlon participant came around the hill, looking very overheated. She looked at me and asked if I had any electrolytes....I did in the "Camelpak" but the mouthpiece was covered with mud, which I showed her and shook my head. Then she asked the folks in the jeep, who looked at her a bit perplexed. She rode on.

A few others came by, including 4 tourist girls, and several asked if I was ok....I was bleeding slightly on my arm and leg but not badly. It took about 10 minutes to quite feeling dazed and make the decision I WOULD FINISH THE RACE! I checked the bike and it seemed to be fine, so I walked it to the top of the hill and began to ride again. After about 2 more miles, the trail dropped down to beside the ocean and I stopped to rinse some of the mud off....Several more participants came by and waved. My friend Marcia didn't see me until I yelled "Hi honey" to her and she said "Hi" as she went by and later told others I had stopped to cool myself by putting mud all over me!

Cooled, cleaned a bit, I resumed the race to the finish line. As I rode through town, I got some strange looks, being still pretty muddy and I though about stopping at the hotel to take a shower (though cold water was all we had) but decided the mud was just one more badge of courage to take in with me. Pulling up to the finish at the Dos Palmas hotel, there were cheers from the folks that had already finished. I got couple pictures taken and then Doreen took me back to the dock and sprayed me off with the hose until most of the mud was washed off! 
The bike time for 5 miles was 1 hr 24 minutes 

But I FINISHED!!!!!!!!

And it was an awesome day!


Thank you to those who have 

pledged, donated and sent energy!!!!!!!

Agnes Rishall

Alice Brown

Alice Gardiner

Barbara Highfield

Barbara Katz

Barbara Kehm

Becky Schulte

Bernice Ross & Byron Van Arsdale

Betty Kincaid

Betty Taisch

Bill Griffith

Bob Nachman

Bobbie McKinney

Carol Page

Charlene Lambert

Cindy Skinner

Clare Prager

Curtis Hall

Diane Brennan

Darryl Davis

DeAnne Ottaway

Elaine Keating


Emily Link

Fidelity National Title of Tucson

Gail Hartnett

General Mortgage Corp of CA

Gini Arthur

Glenda Grow

Helen Brooks

Holly Eslinger

Jack Peckham

Jan Mullins

Jean Mabry

Jean Tietgen

Jill Rich

Jim Vucoloco

Joanne Levy

JoAnne Poole

John Smith

Joyce L. Finefrock

Judy Meyers

Julie Overholt

Kate Ryan

Kathy Landis

Kathy Timmons

Kelly Halverson

Kristi Soligo

Laura Halpen

Laura Mance

Lauren Smith

Lauretta Martin

Linda Rheinberger

Lisa Larkin

Lora Keyes

Mal Duane

Margaret Davis

Margaret Glover

Maria Turfler

Marijo Hayes

Marilyn Radford

Marilyn Urso

Marti Pattison

Mary Ebhardt

Mary Scott

Melanie Builder

Mick Cluck

Miriam Bell

Nancy Thorsen

Ofilia Riveria

Pat Fredricks

Pat Howard

Pat Leach

Patty Westwood

Paula Garnsey

Peggy Batch-Gattone

Robbyn Quant

Rose Hocker

Sandal Caillet

Sandy Canepa

Sandy Holdren

Sharee Bigler

Sharon Hunt

Stacey Gross

Sue Cartun

Susan Taylor

Suzanne Matlotz

Terri Gilles

Terri Collins

Texas WCR State Chapter

Tim Kinzler

Venice, FL WCR Chapter

Joeann Fossland, Advantage Solutions Group, LLC
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