My first triathlon was a super sprint in a pool.  A few days after I finished I signed up for a triathlon in Kerrville Texas in September in 2016. They were very accommodating to me as parathete. I had never been to Kerrville, but heard it was hilly. I didn’t care I had tasted sweet success and wanted more. I had the triathlon bug and I wanted to do an open water swim.

My first open water swim triathlon and I needed to pack for it. I learned from my first Triathlon it is easy to stay organized if you pack your gear in ziploc bags. It is wise to keep everything for the swim in the swim bag and then put it on at the race, bike stuff in bike bag and run stuff in run bag.

It was a 3 hour drive I chose to make on my own. I was happy to know some Team RWB members would be there. Which meant I wouldn’t totally be alone. It was a fun drive because I jammed my playlist. I think I’m the only person that still uses an iPod.

I didn’t stay at the host hotel, I stayed at the Y.O. Hotel great place. There is plenty to do and see there. You can take your family there and relax. If you don’t want to participate or you can always volunteer.

Friday I was going to have to leave Jeffrey (my bike) alone on a rack with strange bikes and the elements. My event was Saturday morning and I was a little uneasy about that. Daniel told me to deflate my tires a little because it was hot outside, so I did. I walked Jeffrey to transition 1 (T1) and left him with a volunteer because I wasn’t wearing my bib bracelet and wasn’t allowed into the area. I ran over to the car to grab the bracelet. Got it! Now let’s turn in Jeffrey. I also had to drive a few miles to leave my run bag at T2. I had already pre packed my gear and had them in ziplock bags. I put those bags in the bags they provided because they wanted a clean tranisition (nothing out except the bag).

I went to bed about 9:30pm after triple checking everything for my bike and swim. I had never heard of 2 transition areas. Wow, this is cool. Are all non super sprints like this? Man…this is a triathlon a real triathlon. I’m going to be a real triathlete. Stop it crazy, you are a triathlete, there are no fake triathletes!

I couldn’t sleep, that’s a first cause I was exhausted.  So I decided to run my plan for the tri down in my mind and drifted off to sleep. Every bump in the night woke me up. I woke up at 10,  11, then at 1 am and read and responded on Facebook for 35 minutes. Laid down and fell back asleep and just as I was getting into some GOOD sleep my 4 am alarm went off. I jumped up got cleaned up and I made 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my hotel room. Then my foot started ache. Are you serious? Hell no, not today, calm that stuff down. Let’s put on some RealTime. I filled up my Whataburger cup with ice from the ice machine and poured some water in the cup with orange Pedialyte powder. Made sure I filled up my bike bottle with ice and powder only. I left at 4:35 by 4:44 I was in the parking garage. I sat there eating my 1st sandwich listening to music. Then I decided to go wait on the shuttle. Well the shuttle driver helped me into the van and drove me over. I sat in the front seat and we chatted a bit. He helped me out of the vehicle and thanked me for my service. I thanked him for his service too.

I arrived at 4:53 am. I was early transition opened at 5:30. I sat down and talked with Jonathon the Volunteer Manager and Dan the Director of Operations. Once transition opened I walked straight to Jeffrey picked him up and walked him out to get air in his tires. After I racked him I noticed the portapotties.  What no portapotty line? I ran straight over there, actually I danced. The music was awesome. When I was done I went back to my transition area and pulled out my timing chip, laid out my gear and walked over to ask how to put on the timing chip.  I walked over to a guy that looked familiar to me. Oh snap he is in a Facebook group I belonged to a fellow member of the National Black Triathletes Association but he was from San Antonio. It was his 1st tri so I told him everything I learned from my 1st tri. He allowed me to set up his transition area and I went over with him to get air in his tires. He was nice our conversation kept us both cool, calm and collected prior to the race. Rita took a few picks of me. By this time it was time to line up for the swim.

Stroke It

I stepped outside of transition to take a few photos and then headed to the water. Down this hill I went trying get to keep my footing. I walked down to a table with Sean I ask if this where I leave my shoe with the brace. Noone is sure. A volunteer tells me to find the Operations  Manager to assign me a volunteer. Dan tells me to just go pick one. So I do, I tell her the plan and how to execute it. We are good to go. I walk away from the start shoot and then I meet Miriam and her group of friends.

An older lady walks up to me and says how do you pronounce your name as she pointed to my leg. I said Candice. She looked baffled, she looked at my leg she said Candice? I said yes, on my leg is DJ-TAI-BAI which means Don’t Just Talk About It Be About It. I told her I didn’t come up with the phrase, but my homie4life did. She thought it was great and she said she lived by that standard. She then said I’m going to be your new best friend you will not finish this race alone. She introduced me to a few other ladies that promised me I would have a blast.

She beckoned her friends and introduced me them. She looked down and asked me about my leg brace. I told them about my foot drop they gathered around and had one of their husbands take a photo (a photo I will never see). I proudly gave her my DJTAIBAI bracelet. She then asked about the name Kandi Kane where did that come from. I told her that’s my athletic name. Kandi was given to me by my mom at a young age and we got creative with the spelling around age 8. Kane was creative spelling as well, but it is to remind me that I used to walk with a flatbed bed crutch and cane. It has nothing to do with the fact that I love candy canes, but a little to do with the fact that I try to be sweet like candy and supportive like a cane. FYI I didn’t finish my first tri alone, the ladies I met cheered me on throughout the race as I cheered them on.

Ride It

So I walk to transition and met the guy that talked to me about his 60 triathlons and 30 Ironmans before transition opened. He smiled and said, the worse is over. Great job! Now catch someone on the bike. I looked at Jeffrey only one other bike was on the rack. I spent 4 extra minutes in the water than what I’d planned. I walked over to him and said, “Let’s just catch one”. I put on my shades, helmet, fanny pack thing with nutrition and phone, grabbed my bib number put it on and placed all my other items in one bag the bike bag. I left it on the ground and walked straight out of transition. I crossed the line and mounted my bike. I slowly pedaled about an 11 mile pace for 2 minutes them I got up to a 13 minute pace. 2 people paced me one male and one female ages 35 and 31. I rode down to the end of the street. I rode this course last night in my car. I’m going to accelerate on this turn and then slow down. Sure enough I passed 3 folks. Dang it there is an inclined right turn in 200 feet. ” Lets get it!” In the words of Christina, “You participate to complete not to compete.”  Just ride,  I laughed and said to myself let’s try to go 15mph today. That’s the goal. Well the wind whooped my tail. The hills were small, but they worked me. I shifted up and down, through the race to keep an even cadence. I am thanking volunteers and police on the street. I passed 8 people and 5 passed me. I passed 1 back up on a hill. We rode single file on the bumpy shoulder and was afraid to get hit by a car when I needed to pass. So I often had to slow down and wait for cars to pass to take the lane a little. My favorite was the headwinds up the hill. I don’t ever recall any tailwinds. Not once did I feel like a super hero flying. I felt as though the wind was going to clear me off my bike. That was a crosswind, lol. The decents were small, the one huge decent I so wanted to give it all had a sharp right turn. A lady passes me and says you are doing great. Believe in your shirt. I have scripture on the back of my tri top. I am slowing down because of the turn. So I pump my breaks and looked over my shoulder I was afraid to make a sharp turn or to swing out to wide and cause a cyclist to crash into me. I was clear wide turn. I said, “Shit” as I turned. That concluded the 1st loop. Now it’s time to give it a little more. A lady from the neighborhood  cheered for me. She said you have V power get low and get it.  I was like V power? She through up the V and lowered her hand down. I was like…Oh my!  I went from 13.6 to 15.2. I needed to get away from her. I maintained it for a good 3 minutes I would loose it at the incline. A lady rode by and said I like your kit. Never feeling as though I was gaining speed on the declines because I would have to turn or the decline was small. I rode the course I’m pushing into the wind and I am drinking my water. I take a vanilla cliff shot. I’m riding along and see slowing cyclists. Oh my there is an ambulance and a fire truck on the course. “Lord please cover them and there family”, I prayed. We were in a single file trying to go around. A cyclist almost got hit by the opening fire truck door. We got around ok, many slowed to look. I slowed to avoid an accident. I don’t need to look or render aid professionals are on the scene. I’m gonna ride. I passed 3 at that point. I climb the incline to go down by Ford again this time I am behind little kids on the bike. I must slow it down further. I give them space to turn and burn in the curve. I passed them and now I’m in the home stretch I’m saving my legs, I’m coasting to the finish it’s down hills and curves into the park. I stop dismount at the line and walk to transition. I hear people screaming my name, I smiled. I can’t see them. I can’t localize sound. Thank you whomever you are. Later I find out it’s Daniel and Jimmy from Team RWB. I gotta get this run down and I’m not feeling it.

Pound It

I get into tranisition, I am looking sideways. Did they move the racks? Let me find my number. What some crackhead moved my bag from the end to the 2nd position. I put Jeffrey on the rack. I take off my helmet. I get the run bag open it up put on my visor.  I get my hand held water bottle from the bag open the bottle pour everything I didn’t drink on the bike into that bottle. I grab the bike rack and squat. I turn and walk to the start of the run shoot. Now the sun is coming out. I take off jogging. “I have lead in my feet? Nah I’m feeling great. I’m hungry though.”  I see Daniel and Jimmy, I call out to the Eagles everyone turns but them. Lol, competitors are cheering for me, I’m cheering for them. Much like the bike course as I would pass I would pay them a compliment or encouraging words. Today was not my race. I’m not feeling this run. Guess I need to walk. “Not, until mile 1!” I could here Tee’s voice, “If you are too tired walk the B!”. I look over and people are slowly jogging and walking. I am still jogging I pass a 75 year old. I just want to stay at her pace. So I start walking she passes me and starts runninh. I start running and pass her. She starts walking, I start walking. She starts running and passes me. I keep walking we get up to the turn around and we ask which way to go do we turn behind or in front of the cones. We opt behind. I take off running for a tenth of a mile. I decide to walk until I see someone I know, I’m tired. I start running and she starts running. We run past Rita handing out Gatorade. I run past Jimmy and ask Jordan if she is collecting rocks for me. Daniel comes out of nowhere running along side me in his hoodie videoing. Good stuff! Another Eagle from San Antonio cheers me on. Then another 2 tell me I’m looking strong. I’m hungry! I smile I say thank you. Ihave 10 steps in me before I and start walking. I see the ladies from the start of the race. They are on the opposite side of the walk way. We high five and share words of encouragement.We are kicking booty! Nah, I’m getting my booty kicked. I’m not feeling this run. Then I passed a guy that was recovering from a severe stroke. He clearly had foot drop and right side paresis too. He was walking the course. He was walking the course  unassisted( he had 2 others walking with him), he reminded me of how I used to walk with the same shuffle gait. I felt a tear; I felt tears coming.  He was inspiring! He was doing what I hadn’t dreamt of doing until 15 years post accident. He is amazing!  I thougt back to my recovery. I thanked God. I started running a little then later started walking. I asked myself, ” I ran the first tri, but why can’t I run this one?” I reply, “Well genius you almost died in the water.” Kandi Kane said, “You should have rested on the bike.” I shake my head and start running. I know I’m loosing it now. My right foot cramps up. “Not! We are not hurting right now. Ain’t no body got time for that.” I begin to limp. I’m pissed, grandma runs past me. I can’t even sprint. I get to the 2nd turn around and jog around it. The volun-cheerleader says you are half a mile out you got this. I am finding it harder to run. I get a pain that shoots up into my ankle and goes across my right foot. I reach out and grab the mile 3 sign. I try to stretch out the foot in my shoe. Hell no! We are not walking the finish line. I see Daniel walk up near the finish I see Jimmy walk off. “COME ON” A lady says,you are almost finished. My foot says you are finished. I said well I will be finished at the finish line. From a dead halt I sprint the last .12. I enter the shoot cross the 1st mat I hear my name. I push a little harder I crossed the 2nd mat and I throw my hands up and I am done. I slowed down and cross the finish line. I bow my head down to get my medal. I never saw Daniel. He snapped a great finishing photo.

He told me to get my results, we talked about my swim. Grabbed some food and drink.

Best chicken fajita! Great slaw/salad. Jammin music! It was a party! Plenty of beer! You could have seconds and 3rds. Massage table was kickin. My foot hurt, but I just stood on it. People from everywhere congratulated me. Guess they had never seen a disabled athlete before.

We hugged as if we had known each other our whole lives. The 75 year old lady that smoked mecame over and hugged me. We laughed and talked, she said I only beat you cause you have mobility problems. I was thinking to myself hell you are 75 don’t you have some type of limitation? You beat me cause I am slow. I just smiled and hugged her.
I watched the award ceremony and the little kids take off for the 1 mile. I walked to transition to get my bike and bags. Noone told me I was going to have to walk up the stairs to the bridge to cross the park to get to the parking garage. So I carry my bike up the steps, Daniel carries my bag. We get to the street level and part company. I was not happy.

Later I go to a flat tire class and hang out in the expo. I sign up to volunteer for the events on tomorrow.

I meet the Chapter Captain of RWB San Antonio and take a selfie. Then talk to a guy about the Texas Tri Series. After chatting it up for about 30 minutes I share my drowning story with him and he realizes that I sent him an email about where to put my brace. We shake hands and he is surprised to learn I had such a great time that I am staying to volunteer and cheer on the participants. He told me to take lots of pictures tomorrow and put the on Instagram. He definately asked the right person. I eventually go back to my room and take photos.

I woke up at Zero Dark Thirty the next morning to volunteer for the 70.3 it is pouring raining and I feel for those jokers.

I got up and body marked folks and took lots of pictures. I couldn’t wait for them to finish the event I needed to drive home before the storm hit with full force.

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