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Teri Hatcher – To Compete Or Not To Compete?

That is the question I asked on the day after finishing my first triathlon. I actually also asked “Can I get a massage and a nice bottle of red wine?  Just kidding. Sort of. Of course, later on Sunday, I did indeed get a massage and shared a champagne toast with my family. We toasted to the generous friends and fans who supported me and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, to crossing the finish line in 2 hours 11 minutes, to still being upright and breathing, and to almost beating Mario Lopez. Just kidding. Sort of. Then like any self respecting triathlete mom would do, I went home, put all the gear away, fed the dog and proceeded to clean the house while helping with homework. Ah, that Sunday “day of rest” hat. Where do you buy that one? Mine seems to be missing.

Here is the inside scoop on the day. I didn’t sleep at all night the before. Anxiety that mixed the feelings of waiting for Christmas morning with having just seen “The Exorcist”. Tossed and turned till I got up before the alarm at 4am, made coffee, ate hard boiled egg whites, drank coconut water (which has more potassium than a banana) sat in my jacuzzi, got dressed and drove my 78 VW bus camper, bike in tow, an hour to Malibu. Sludged through surreal 6am bumper to bumper traffic and arrived at 6:30. Got my gear set up in the transition area, peed in the port-a-potty for the last time before I’d cross the finish line (I know TMI), put on the wet suit and headed to the beach. Then we listened to the National Anthem in awe of someone’s ability to hit the “land of the free” note at 7am and waited for the canon boom to start the race.

When the canon shot, the first group of swimmers ran for the water and I watched with anticipation and empathy as the entire group was swept off course because of the current and had to  swim “upstream” to get around the first buoy. Well, I was lucky to learn from that mistake and was able to swim, with confidence, a good tight even-paced course. I surprised myself. From there I got out of the water in pretty good shape and then hit my first brick wall. It wasn’t the swim, it was the jog in my wet suit all the way down this long blue carpet in the transition area to the far end where my bike was stationed. Honestly, by the time I got to my bike I was so out of breath I could barely get my wet suit off. I’ve come to find out I should have sprayed my body with Pam cooking spray. Who knew you could rip off your wet suit with stellar speed and fry an omelet with the same substance?

Anyway, once I got on the bike, I felt strong and enjoyed the cloud-covered, intermittent rain sputtering weather.
There was something powerful about cyclists taking over PCH highway. Getting away with behavior that normally isn’t accepted; we owned the road, didn’t stop at lights and didn’t worry about cars. I passed and was passed and then re- passed the same few people for most of the ride. “It’s me again, on your left, I’m sure you’ll be passing me on the next hill” we’d chuckle. I pushed hard and kept thinking about my daughter who told me to try and win.

Win? Win… I hadn’t even thought about winning, or even trying to win. I wasn’t competing with anyone; in fact, I don’t think I was even competing with myself. I just wanted to finish. To survive, to not walk. What she meant was that I should do my best and my best might actually include beating someone else. It’s been such a long time since I’ve been in a race against anything but age, I hadn’t thought about winning at all.

So I continued to ride aggressively into the transition area, and was so focused as I changed into my running shoes and blew my nose that I didn’t even notice Bob Iger and his wife Willow trying to say hello and cheer me on. I dissed my boss! I mean my BOSS. He’s even my boss’s boss that’s how much of a boss he is. And I blew my nose in front of him!  Actually the papparrazi caught that lovely moment, so I sort of blew my nose in front of the whole world.  I just hope he appreciates intensity ‘cause that’s what I was as I headed into the dreaded four mile run. Intense.  Intensely focused on finishing. I still can’t believe anyone is expected to run without music. I’m really hung up on that. It’s against the rules to use an ipod.

So at this point I could barely talk and then all the donations began to really make a difference. At one point I started counting steps thinking that I would take a step for all 16 thousand some odd dollars donated on my behalf. That worked until about 100 and then I lost my ability to focus or count. My lungs were burning. It was hard. In the last 3 miles I remember saying “Hi Bill” to Bill Macy running the last leg in the opposite direction as me (he was going TOWARDS the finish line) and he looked at me like I was some crazed fan he didn’t know, then a little later I ran by Felicity who was also headed in that direction, and I yelled, “Hey Flick” she smiled said hello. I thought, “Why can’t I be going the way they are going? Why am I running AWAY from the finish line?” A lot of Disney employees and random fans kept shouting “Go Teri” to which I was very grateful. And then around mile 2 1/2 a shirtless Mario Lopez ran passed me and waved ‘hi’. I waved hi and tried to stay in my groove. I was NOT thinking that if Mario was just now passing me and we both started at the same time then I must have been beating him through the swim and the bike. I was not thinking about any other celebrities I could beat. I was again just thinking “Keep  Running.” Do not stop running.

It wasn’t until I turned a blind corner in a tightening row of screaming fans, when I still anticipated another 200 yards to run, that I saw the big finish line. It had a big fancy digital clock. Right there suddenly 15 feet in front of me, I FINALLY REALIZED I WAS IN AN ACTUAL RACE. Can you believe I really didn’t realize I was in a race till I saw that clock? And it was ticking and it said 2:10:36 and I suddenly kicked into gear like a horse on a track sticking my nose out like somehow if I now crossed the finish line a millisecond earlier that would be important. So, of course, this leads me to today. Monday, the morning after.

To compete or not compete? Should I have been competitive? Should I have focused down on Mario like a leopard after an impala on the bush plains of the South Africa. Would it have made a difference? Would my accomplishment have been more powerful or meaningful? I’m thinking the accomplishment of facing fears, taking on a challenge way outside my wheel house, supporting children in need, being part of a team, acknowledging the great camaraderie of motherhood and hopefully inspiring others, getting in shape and checking off a goal on my bucket list. Well that was what was important to me. Yes, indeed. I’m at peace. That said, Mario watch out next year. I’m comin for ya. Just kidding. Sort of.

You can still donate money to help Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Visit http://www.teamhatcher.org.

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