We were riding around Paradise this morning (Paradise Drive in Tiburon), my last ride in my 30s, and my friend, relaying her entertaining moments in the sport of triathlon, said, without pausing to edit, “And then I had a ‘Katie Kelly’ moment.”
Whoa whoa, stop, wait. What the heck is a “Katie Kelly” moment?
What unfolded was a triathlete’s nightmare, and by that, I suppose she meant the type of thing that could only happen to me. But it happened to her. A Katie Kelly moment.
Only seconds before the start of the swim, the strap on her goggles snapped. Her friend and fellow competitor said she could borrow hers, but they were in the transition area. And so, panicked, my friend sprinted back to the transition area, crawled up a dirt hill, in her bare feet no less, dug through her friend’s belongings in the transition area ’til she found the goggles, and scrambled back to the start, missing it by minutes. She said she was the last one in the water, and even more last when she got out.
She said that she swam so slowly, breaststroke no less, that at least she wasn’t fatigued, she said.
She said that she was so late entering the transition area that only one volunteer remained.
We laughed at her foibles, with her, not at her, of course, until I jolted myself back to the underlying message:
That was the “Katie Kelly” moment.
Tomorrow I’m turning 40 years old, and all I have to show for it are Katie Kelly Moments.
When I was a teenager, without talking too much about it, my mom handed me a short Sports Illustrated article she thought I’d like. It was about a swimmer who in her late thirties finally made it to the Olympic Trials. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember the last line of the article, which quoted the athlete. She said, “I guess I’m just a late bloomer.”
My mom was never a Swim Meet Mom. She had her own stuff to do (like race cars). She wasn’t one of those moms who went to all the meets and rooted for me on the sidelines, but she liked hearing about them. She never blinked when I told her that I had, again, finished last. She pointed out how much smaller I was compared to others my own age, that I was a late bloomer. She said my time would come.
Reflecting now on those conversations, I am recalling with relief that she never said there was a time limit on being a late bloomer.
And so, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I clink my glass to all the other late bloomers in the world, at any age. Let’s see what kind of (Insert Your Name Here) Moment we can experience next.