This is the fifth and final part of a series. If you’ve missed any of the previous parts, you can find links to them at the bottom of this page: http://keyofgf.com/deja-vu/
Interstate 26 West – 12:30 pm
On the road again. We use that phrase quite often as Team Fowler treks to triathlons, soccer games, and marathons. Our main vehicle, nicknamed “The Big-un”, has over 230,000 miles.
I probably hummed the old tune again as I turned off Highway 17and onto I-526 after a quick lunch stop. A few miles later, I was merging onto I-26 West toward Columbia and realized the car had grown quiet. A quick passenger check revealed what I suspected: I was the only one still awake. Seizing the moment, I found the ClassicRewind station on the satellite radio and reflected on the day’s events.
CSTS 2017 Series Champ
After the race, we hung around to watch the awards ceremony. Eventually, the race officials made it to our big question mark: with race five counting double points, had Miles passed George for the series points championship?
The announcer spoke, “We’ll now present the award for the 2017 Series Championship.”
“In fifth place…Tim Greene.” Applause.
“In fourth place…Michal Kovac.” Applause.
“In third place…Chris Bailey.” Applause.
The announcer continued, “This was a tight race folks. In second place for the overall 2017 series championship we have…Miles Fowler.” More applause and a silent groan from me. “And your 2017 Series Champion…George Moreno.” Bigger applause.
Oh, well. So close! Of course, there was no shame in second place to George after the last seven weeks – or anytime, really. George is an amazing athlete. We knew it was a long shot, even with the fifth race giving double series points. Oh, yeah – the fifth race. I almost forgot about that. How did that end up, making the series race so close?
Run, Miles, Run
Across the pond, we watched George disappear around the trees. We waited until Miles disappeared as well and then moved back to the main road, where we’d be able to see the runners during the last quarter mile or so. I was hoping by the time George came into the final stretch, Miles would be on his heels. I had my timer ready again.
A few minutes later, I received my answer as a familiar figure came into view. Only this time, it wasn’t the familiar leading figure of George. It was Miles. “Go, Miles!” is probably pretty close to what Team Fowler yelled at this point. Followed by an “Oh, my gosh” or “holy crap!” or something like that.
I started my timer one last time, this time to see how far back George was. I was expecting a ferocious final surge from George. Soon thereafter, the next runner appeared. Only it wasn’t George, either. It was Wesley Mather, and he was definitely surging. As great as Miles had looked, this guy looked better. He was motoring and only 30 seconds behind.
I ducked back through the trees to catch the finish. From this side of the trees, I wouldn’t be able to see the runners until they made the final turn. I could hear the crowd noise increasing on the other side of the trees, though. I hoped Miles had enough cushion, but the way Wesley was moving, I expected to see a neck and neck finish as they rounded the corner…I held my breath.
Fortunately, the only runner rounding the curve into the finishing chute was Miles. Less than 50 yards to go and no Wesley in sight. Moments later, Miles crossed the finish line in 56:53, twenty-one seconds ahead for his second win in Charleston. I let out a huge exhale, and may have had to wipe my eyes. Seems the bright sunlight at the finish had irritated them.
Team Fowler pulled into the house garage just before 3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Mid-afternoon, and we’d already had a twelve hour day. Glad this wasn’t every weekend, I thought, but it was sure worth it today. Fortunately, a relief driver had woken up and had taken over for the final 45 minutes. I still needed my nap, though.
Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys is the old song. So, what if the horse is swapped out for a bicycle? Mamas, should you let your babies grow up to be triathletes?
I can’t answer that for you. I do know one mama who is proud of the effort and dedication her triathlete has shown over the past four years. However, I’m pretty sure she would have answered ‘no’ at one point in May of 2015 and again in June of 2017.
For the moment, I think, the answer may be back to ‘yes’. I have a feeling if, heaven forbid, I’m writing another one of these comeback stories in 2019, there will be a mama and a papa who may have permanent changes of heart.
PS. If you enjoyed this series and love a good comeback story, please consider checking out my novel, Negative Split. Proceeds will go toward gas for The Big-un and future entry fees. Click on the book image to take you to Amazon. Thanks!