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    Posted December 10, 2014 by
    Vero Beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

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    Angels, Ironmen, and Other Random Miracles


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     cynthiafalar wanted to complete an Ironman triathlon before she turned 50 years old this March. She trained for 32 weeks, and finished the race at 12:45 a.m., with a time of 17 hours 52 minutes. The race consists of consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run. "It is a total celebration of health; a desire to show you can, at any age, challenge yourself beyond your limits and succeed."
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I believe that sometimes people, angels, are sent to us. At first they seem random. However, in time, they arrive just when we need them most.

    On Monday, December 1st, not long after the official cut off time, I finished my first Ironman 140.6 mile race in Cozumel, Mexico.

    The journey to finish took the help of greater forces and random strangers.
    The easy part was the swim. I finished 2.4 miles in 1 hour and 46 minutes. I left the crystal blue waters feeling resilient.

    The winds on the 112 bike ride were relentless! The first loop was great. The second remained hard. The third was pure agony. As the sun began to set, I rode the last miles in the dark. While a pit-bull chased me the fear of being disqualified set in.

    Finally, I reached transition. The officials stared with apologetic looks. I stood there crying. Honestly, I think they felt sorry for me. As I walked away and accepted defeat, the official tapped me on the shoulder. He asked, "Would you like to try and finish?" I managed a weak, "Si!"

    I changed and started walking 26.2 miles. I couldn't stop crying. Several athletes came by and told me not to give up. One looked just like my brother, another like an elected official, and a third resembled one of my volunteers. It was as if I had been visited by the “Three Ghosts of Christmas Past!”

    All had the same advice: “Don’t give up and drink everything you can!”
    I took their advice and got a second wind. I began to run.

    At the 4.7 mark I saw my husband and son. Their love and excitement gave me encouragement. I said I didn't think I would make the cut. Both replied, "Who cares? Just finish!" Their words pushed me onward.

    At the 18th mile a woman yelled out to me, "Go help that lady finish!" I caught up to her and said, "Would you like to run and walk with me?" She replied, "I don't speak English." I held up my bib and introduced myself. She did the same. Griselda became my new best friend.

    Together Griselda and I ran and walked every other 30 seconds. We stayed together until the 25th mile. Then Griselda’s knee gave out. She turned to me, motioned, and said, "Vamanos!”.

    Suddenly I got a huge adrenaline rush. I started running like I was on fire.

    With each step I could hear people yelling from bars and street corners. There were Americans stepping out, running next to me, and yelling," GOOOO! You are an Ironman!"

    It was an incredible feeling to have strangers yelling for you.


    As I neared the finish line, I could see that the jumbotron was turned off. The announcer had gone. The balloons were deflated and the timing clock was turned off.


    But in that moment of despair, a group of locals and athletes started to cheer. I could see them jumping up and down. Suddenly they were running towards me. For an instant I forgot my own identity. I was not a middle aged working housewife from Florida – I was an Ironman!


    The group yelled, hugged, and embraced me like a long lost daughter! I kept muttering, “But I did not make the official cut off! How can I been an Ironman?”


    As the crowd enveloped me in Agape love, one man reached out for my shoulders. He clenched them tight and said, “You never gave up! You didn't quit! You are Ironman!" I continued to cry more and a lady stepped forward with a red rose and gently tapped it on my
    forehead and said, "I proclaim you Ironman!"


    Out of the corner of my eye, I could see my family, and I left the warm comfort of those strangers. I believe they were angels sent just for me. They had brought me home.

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