The torrential rains in the monsoon were so heavy that long beach community leader Marcel Epley could barely open his eyes while riding his bike at the brutal Ironman race in Cozumel, Mexico.
But that wasn’t the worst.
Just 20 feet from her bike, thunder rang and lightning struck.
“It was the closest to lightning so far,” said Epley, 43, president and chief executive officer of the Long Beach Community Foundation. “At that time, I started praying.”
She prayed to her beloved grandma Shirley Fields Levitz, who died just 17 days before the race last month.
“She was the guardian angel of my life, and I needed her more than ever.”
Grandma Shirley must have heard her granddaughter’s prayer. Epley not only finished the tough 112-mile bike portion of the Ironman Triathlon race, but also 2.4 miles of penalties, which many consider to be the most difficult and toughest day of the day. And the 26.2 mile marathon has also been completed. Test in the world.
For those who rarely travel outside Long Beach lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, completing the 2,800-mile-away Iron Man race on Cozumel, an island off the Yucatan Peninsula, was an incredible achievement. .. She finished in 14 hours — she has plenty of time before the 17-hour time limit.
“I did something I didn’t think I could do, and it was great,” she told me.
Why did she, the mother of two boys, a CEO, a community leader and a volunteer, take on this difficult challenge? She said her life was already “an intertwined net, a constant battle of those who struggle to say” no “.”
She questioned the finish and even suspected she would die. But in the final analysis, it was a humble, once-in-a-lifetime experience, rarely said they had achieved, and she couldn’t resist the opportunity.
She also said it was something she felt she had to do for herself. “This was special to me as someone who spends time on many other things for others,” she said. Epley is one of the most tenacious people I know. As she told me, when she turned to something, “for better or for worse, I’m like a dog with bones.”
Epley knew that training at the Ironman Championship would be harder than he had ever done. She was accustomed to getting up in front of her husband and boy to run in the neighborhood. Five years ago, she started a running club called Bix Venor’s Dawn Joggers. She enlisted some of these early morning runners to help her with her new training program.
The 5:30 Club (also known as FTC) is a veteran running group that Epley said is made up of people in their 40s and 50s on Long Beach who value family, smack talk and hard work.
FTC members invited her to a pre-dawn training session. Nine members of the club finished the Ironman race at Cosmel’s Epley.
To improve her swimming skills, she met weekly with a swimming coach at Fairfield YMCA in North Long Beach.
She improved her cycling time by spinning an exercise bike in the garage and Weingart YMCA.
She went to weekly weightlifting and monthly chiropractic and acupuncture sessions at Fitness Chiropractic in downtown Long Beach to play soccer and tire her knees when she was young. She also lost £ 20.
She also had to train her mind and her body for the race. “The toughest soldiers are well aware that the body follows the instructions of the mind,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave anything on the table on the day of the race.”
On Race Day, 2,818 athletes, including Epley, finally arrived, jumping from the dock into the Caribbean and into a world full of colorful underwater fish and corals.
“I think it was 50 or 60 feet to the bottom, but I could see the details and waved to hundreds of colorful fish, sea urchins, octopuses, stingrays, jellyfish and friendly scuba divers on the ocean floor. There was no turning back when I jumped in, “Epley said.
She finished a 2.4 mile swim in a good time and it went into a bike race.
“I wore a helmet, white racing sleeves, socks, and cycling shoes,” she said. “My food and drink was already fixed to the velcro pouch on my bike. I held one foot over my bike and it turned off.”
She said that completing three 112 miles around the island was the greatest adventure of her life to date. A winding course in a downtown area full of tourists and loud music … Children waved and shouted “Si se puede!” On a tin-roofed road in the countryside. … A lush tropical expanse… and a picturesque seascape surrounded by breaking waves.
Then came the rain and prayer. The storm finally passed, but it left a flooded street and swallowed the rider’s feet and tires into a few feet of water. “The last 30 miles of the bike race provided a clear blue sun-filled sky, and it was then that I was trying to achieve it, both in my life and in my good times. Did.”
Next was the 26.2 mile marathon, but Epley said he felt like he was on the marathon’s “Easy Street” because “this was my jam”.
At the start of the marathon, she got a lot of boost when she saw her sister Michelle Baker, who traveled to Cosmel with her family at 5:30.
“I ran the marathon all the time, except for the toilet stop while squeezing the treats and water,” she said. “Tourists and locals filled the streets, bars and restaurants with cheers, shouts and whistles.”
After finishing the race, she called her husband Jeff and his sons (Miles (11) and Wesley (7)) who were having a party at a long beach watch party. “Their support was overwhelming,” she said. “They and more than 20 friends yelled out and told me how proud they were. They were given the opportunity to participate in this race and were further supported by family and friends. Fortunately, I felt like the luckiest person in the world. “
Of the 2,818 athletes who started the race, about 550, or almost 20 percent, did not finish.
It was her 5:30 clubmate who ended up with Epley:
– Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineer Lorie Grimes-Ladesma, 51, said the scenery on her bike was breathtaking when it wasn’t raining.
– Evan Hoover, 59, a founding member of the 5:30 Club, allegedly came up with the name. The oldest eight-month-old Hoover in the group is the United Sports brand CPA.
– Arnoldo Casillas, 59, lawyer and founding member of the 5:30 club.
– Pedro Ximenez, 45, a former Dean of the Westery School who was an admission and junior high school dean at the Peninsula Heritage School and called the racing experience a “great adventure”.When
– Four brothers: Viet Nguyen, 39, case manager of Nguyen Lawyers. Nam Nguyen, 36, an analyst at the Department of Defense’s Defense Contract Management Bureau. Mingen (43) and Tuanguen (43), Vice-Principals of the Nelson Academy in the Long Beach Unified School District of Signal Hill.
5:30 All members of the club said their family and friends were motivated to do their best.
When asked if Pedro Ximenez might not be able to finish the race, I thought Pedro Ximenez gave a great answer. Your mind begins to do tricks to you. Yes, there may be moments that never end, but I’m sure there are people waiting at the finish line or going home and cheering for us. m First or last, don’t end. “
He added: And that keeps me going out there for those long hours. “
Lightning, monsoon can’t stop Ironwoman Marcelle Epley and her friends – Press Telegram Source link Lightning, monsoon can’t stop Ironwoman Marcelle Epley and her friends – Press Telegram