Dreams can come true. Even a dream you’ve had for over twenty years. Let me tell you about my dear friend, Jane. In one word: resilient!
I met Jane when I was dating my boyfriend-to-be-husband, Guy. Jane was the girlfriend of Mike, Guy’s best friend. Jane had previously fled an abusive marriage, taking her two small daughters, Stephanie and Erin, under her wing. She worked the midnight shift at Smitty’s Pancake House, waiting tables. I was pursuing a summer calculus course at the university. I babysat her sleeping children, worked on calculus assignments and slept while she waited tables all night long.
Jane was a real go-getter, trying to better herself to support her children. She had married young and dropped out of high school. While working, she obtained her high school diploma and set her sights on college. Burning the midnight oil, Jane juggled work, school and motherhood. She successfully completed the mostly male program of Motive Power Technician. Excelled, actually. Securing employment for a few years at a car dealership and later, to this day, with Chrysler building minivans. Jane knows the ins and outs of cars like no one else.
Along the way, she married Mike. Life was good. Always one to improve on a situation, Jane decided one day to quit smoking. Hearing how people tend to pack on the pounds after quitting, she decided to take up running. Having little confidence in herself with her new sport, she did it under cover of darkness. Before dawn, she’d run a few blocks in the neighbourhood. Soon, she was entering 5K races. She told us she’d be in the Ironman race in Hawaii someday. It sounded beyond belief at the time.
Jane raced the Detroit Marathon with Mike and her girls on the sidelines to encourage her along the way and greet her at the finish line. She completed the course…but it took every ounce of energy she possessed. She was completely spent.
If Jane is anything besides resilient, it’s that she’s one steady girl. Holds herself to the course, no matter what. Jane entered the Detroit Marathon race the following year, and crossed the finish line with ease. To win the award of Most Improved Athlete. She was a not only a Motive Power technician. She was a Powerhouse with a motive to race in Hawaii. There was no stopping her now.
Me; I’ve always been a swimmer. And, not much of a runner. One summer, Jane and I decided to enter a mini-triathlon at Sandpoint Beach in Windsor. I would swim, my brother-in-law, Mark, would bike and Jane would run. At the last minute, Jane had her friend Joan substitute for her. Jane decided to do the entire course of swimming, biking and running all by herself! That was my first inkling Jane truly was interested in triathlons.
I swam fair. It’s a lot harder to swim in the open water where there are no lines on the bottom of a pool to guide you. I headed perpendicular to the route, twice, to shore instead of along the course. And, let me tell you, that beginning of our race, swimming over other bodies, was one of the weirdest feelings in my life. Our team did complete the event, though and so did Jane. She, without any difficulty whatsoever. One step closer to her dream.
Jane had further struggles in life. Mike succumbed to cancer after a very brief time of taking ill. One foot in front of the other, Jane kept on. Resilient. She ran. She biked. She swam. And was there for her daughters on every step of their life journeys. How she found the time, I’ll never know.
Jane’s been fortunate in life to have found love again. She’s with John now. He’s been her loyal companion at sporting events throughout Canada and USA. And, come October 8th; John, along with Jane’s daughters, will see Jane accomplish her dream. Kona World Championship Ironman in Hawaii. Jane will compete with the world’s best athletes. A dream come true. A 2.4 mile ocean swim. A 112 mile bike ride. A 26.2 mile run. In 95 degree weather.
What are even more incredible are two more details. One is this powerhouse is crammed into a 5’1 ½” person. Yes, while other athletes have their tall height coupled with long strides, Jane will take far more strokes, more cycles, and more steps than probably any other athlete there.
The other extraordinary detail is Jane injured herself a couple of years ago. Severely. While cleaning the eaves troughs, Jane fell from a ladder to crash onto the cement. A broken back meant Jane had to start all over again with teensy-tiny baby steps. Walking, first, and then progressing onward. Her dream always within sight.
My friend, Jane; she’s always been a world champion in my heart. May the Ho’omumuku crosswinds be at her back!