I’ll TRI to honor the memory of my late father who taught me I could do anything!
One of my most cherished memories growing up is of taking bike rides with my dad. I grew up in Reston, and on Saturday mornings my dad used to take me, my brother, and sister on long bike rides. We would ride through Reston along the tree-lined bike paths (sometimes stopping for ice-cream at Baskin Robins) and then back home again. These bike rides were our beloved Saturday morning tradition.
Another fond memory I have is my dad teaching my siblings and I to swim. My dad, who grew up near the water in Nigeria, learned to swim at an early age and he was shocked that my mother, who grew up in Ohio, had never learned. Determined to make sure his children would know how to swim, my mom claims that he taught us all in one day by taking us to the pool and having us jump in the deep end. I can’t recall if it happened quite like this, but I do know that once we learned how to swim, it was hard to get us out of the pool.
While my love of biking and swimming happened at an early age and accounts for some of my favorite memories with my dad, my love of running didn’t happen until almost 30 years later. I started running in 2010 as a way to deal with personal hardships that were hindering me from thinking clearly and being at peace. I loved the feeling of physical accomplishment and mental clarity I had after a long run and I got hooked on that feeling. After years of causal running, I decided to take on the challenge of a sprint triathlon.
After about four months of training, I completed my first RST on June 4, 2017 with my dad, mom and other family members all cheering me on. I remember the overwhelming sense of pride I felt for not only conquering this new goal but knowing that I had impressed my dad, who had been very athletic all his life, with an athletic accomplishment of my own!
In early 2018, as I was struggling to train consistently for my second RST, my dad was struggling through intensive chemo
treatments for his cancer. I was considering dropping out of the race due to my lack of preparation, but I remembered a conversation I’d had with him recently where he was lamenting his inability to do the physical activities he once enjoyed like bowling, cycling, and kayaking. So instead of quitting, I decided I was going to do the race in honor of him. Due to his illness, he couldn’t watch my 2018 race, but I swam, biked, and ran faster than I had the previous year. Despite the rainy conditions of 2018 and my insufficient training, racing to honor my dad fueled my performance.
On May 12, 2019 my dad lost his five-year battle with multiple myeloma. We will be celebrating his life and funeralizing him the weekend of the 2019 RST, so I will have to take this year off from racing. However, I am determined to come back stronger and faster than ever for the 2020 RST and race as a tribute to the wonderful man, athlete and encourager my father was. Because he taught me how to ride a bike, showed me how to swim, and told me I could do anything I put my mind to, my dad is the reason why I TRI!
CORE Foundation thanks Evelyn Momplaisir for sharing her inspirational story. Our hearts and prayers are with her this weekend as she and her family celebrate the life of her wonderful father. Peace be with you Dad!