After the race, Mark took Annabelle for a little Daddy/daughter swim before the rest of us joined them in the water.
This weekend started out pretty typical. Mark traveled (to New Mexico for a couple of Fitter and Faster events) and Annabelle and I held down the home front.
Saturday, rather than waiting at home for Mark's working weekend to end, Annabelle and I drove to Atlanta to meet our sweet friends Eric and Jeri. Eric hosted the first ever Swim For Your Life open water swim to benefit Livestrong and cancer research and we weren't going to miss a chance to support him.
Once in Atlanta, while I was getting dressed and catching up with my sweet friend, Jeri, Annabelle sat in the living room with Aaron (Peirsol) and Eric. When I peeked out to check on her I saw all three kneeling in front of the tv. Eric and Aaron were playing Nintendo and Annabelle was on her knees just watching them. Once we were all showered and dressed, we headed to Eric's pre-race banquet. We ate, talked, and supported Eric as he welcomed the participants with a touching speech about his experience with cancer.
Some participants couldn't quite figure out who Annabelle and I were and how we were connected to Eric. They didn't know that we've known Eric for almost a decade. They didn't know that Mark and Eric lived next door to each other all through college. They didn't know that Eric's girlfriend, Jeri, is also my best friend. They didn't know that I have sat with Janet (Eric's mom at swim meets for years. They didn't know that we love Eric like a brother. I also don't wear a sign that say, "My husband is an Olympian," so people usually just see me as a funny little girl with a baby that seems to start a conversation with just about anyone. Sometimes people just think that I'm a groupy (maybe I am). See, for us, it is not uncommon to fly "solo" without Mark. We attend plenty of functions, dinners and social events less one. I feel comfortable being a third wheel because it is often that Mark is traveling and I am home alone. What else would I do? Stay home every time Mark traveled? It's not in my nature. So, instead, I pull on my big girl panties and tag along with friends. Such was the case Saturday night.
After dinner we headed back to Eric's house. I put the baby down and waited for Mark who was to land at the Atlanta airport at midnight. Finally, long after I had given up on waiting up, Mark showed up (1:30am!). We said a quick hello and went to sleep-we were planning on leaving the house a little after 7am to head to the lake for the swim.
Exhausted, we all rolled out of bed and shuffled to the car (everyone was dressed except for Annabelle who was still in her PJs-so jealous). We arrived at the swim venue.
Though I had hoped to (and planned on) swim, someone had to stay on the beach with Annabelle.
We watched our friends swim. We watched our friends' parents swim. We watched children and adults swim. All were swimming for the cause. By the way, I am sniffling back tears as I type because the entire day was so special. It was so touching. It was such an honor to be a part of.
Eric, Janet (Eric's mother), and Mark after the race. After Eric ran in, he noticed that his mother was still out in the water. He went back out to finish the race with his mother.
Annabelle was in the middle of everything. During a quick little photo op, Annabelle decided to try a handful of sand...
Some people ask if Mark gets paid for swimming in things like this. For this particular event, the answer is absolutely not. Eric is our friend. We attended and Mark swam to support him. Mark actually paid to be a part of it. That's the point, right? To raise money for cancer research and awareness.
Very rarely do we get a picture of the two of us together (I am usually behind the camera), but we got a quick squeeze in before the swim.
I started crying tonight. I was overwhelmed with emotion-after such a wonderful day I was overwhelmed with gratuity. Now, I'm not trying to be too mushy, but sometimes I just can't help it. Here are the reasons why I am so thankful:
- I am happy and healthy
- My husband is happy and healthy
- My baby is happy and healthy
- My husband loves what he does
- I love what I do
- We have such good friends that we lump them into the category of 'family'
- All of our friends (even those that don't have children yet) love our baby
- Some of our friends (even those that don't have children yet) love her so much that they are willing to change her poopy diapers
- We are able to show our support of our friends so that they know how much we love them
Sniff, sniff. Tissue, please.
Okay... enough lovey, dovey, mushy, love stuff.
The highlights of my weekend include:
- Arriving at Eric's lake house which immediately brought back memories of college
- Listening to Jeri explain the mysterious stain on the table (let's just say it included a diaper)
- Watching Aaron and Eric teach Annabelle about Super Mario Bros.
- Swimming with Annabelle in the lake with Mark and Jeri
- Eating my weight in biscuits with Bryce (a dear friend and Mark's college roommate and roommate from the 2004 Olympic games) at Cracker Barrel
- Getting to see so many friends that we typically do not get to see because everyone lives in their own corner of the country
What a day!