When I’m doing a triathlon I regularly get strange looks in transition. I know I’m not your pin up image of a triathlete but they’re not looking at me, the quizzical looks are normally directed at the fact that I have a stuffed toy sellotaped to my bike.
I posted a picture earlier of ‘Elmo’ clipped to the washing line, drying out after yesterdays Dublin City Triathlon. It brought on a couple of queries as to why I race with a toy stuck to my bike. Most people just look and assume its a gift from the kids, some think its a lucky charm, some, I assume, think its just because I’ma bit strange.
In truth its a little of all three. Many of my friends know immediately why I bring Elmo to all my races but for those that don’t, its to remember a remarkable character that touched many peoples lives for the better.
Graham always had time for other people, he passed his considerable knowledge to others by being one of the best sailing coaches in the country. He was a friend to everyone, rarely had a bad word to say about anything and was full of encouragement at all times.
After Operation Transformation he kept in touch with me and travelled out to Marlay Park so we could go running together. He was one of the first members of the Dun Laoghaire Pier Runners a group of runners all looking for a common group bound by a love of running.
Graham was the first person to suggest to me that I could do a triathlon. He had done TriAthy himself and thought it would be an ideal challenge for me to take on. He was full of encouragement. Unfortunately, Graham passed away, but his spirit lives on in the way he influenced so many people in the many aspects of his wonderful life.
Elmo now comes with me on every triathlon I do. I’m not particularly concerned about the aerodynamics of my bike, theres a lot more streamlining I could take care around my belly that would provide much more benefit!! I forgot him in TriAthy this year and Maureen had to travel down and pass him to me as I came off the swim, it was that important.
When I need to dig deep in a swim, when training, on the bike or a run, Elmo is there. He believed that I could do anything I put my mind to and I draw strength from his confidence in me every time I do a race.
There are many support groups in Ireland promoting the message that its OK to not feel OK and its absolutely OK to ask for help.