Racing has given me many things but the greatest gift has been my best friend!
I met my best friend almost five years ago. I worked in the gym and she would take my cycle class. Always sitting in the back row but never slacking. Dragging in her four children under four; week after week made me realize that was someone I had to get to know. Little did I know she was going to become family!
We quickly realized we had so many of the same goals and dreams. I had never done a triathlon but always wanted to and Alesha was signed up for her first. We both wanted to run a marathon but needed the push to actually follow through with it! As we started to become really good friends, so did our children! We would set training/play dates at the gym. Anything to get our workouts in. On a lucky day, we would make it outside. Very hard for Alesha because her husband was frequently gone on business, but that was never an excuse! In 2014 we completed our first triathlon together. It was so much fun!! We saw each other on the bike. Cheering for each other, and high fiving on the run! It will forever be a top race! I took 1st AG and she took 4th. This would not be our last race together! We went on to complete several half marathons and our long-term goal of a full marathon-leaving our mark! Both taking 1st in our AG! Although Alesha left with a little more than we came for (stress fracture); we were not done! Ironman, here we come!
Yes, crazy but that’s what our friendship is made of! We both signed up for The Great Floridian. Training was going great, logging miles and getting stronger. Until one day Alesha went out for a run and felt a POP! Yep, hamstring. We were both devastated. She was out but encouraged me to keep pushing forward. “Become an Ironman,” she said! Training went on. Definitely was not as much fun without my training partner, but she was always open for me to share my success and breakdowns of training. Almost like my personal Ironman therapist.
October 2015; I will never forget this day. Not just because I became an Ironman but because of the people that were there to share it with me. By this point, Alesha had moved across the state so her son could attend the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. I was not even sure she would be able to share this day with me. 4 am I got the call. “Are you ready?” she said. “We will see you soon!” All four kids in tow they were making the 3-hour drive! I searched and searched for her as I exited the water, then again coming out on the bike. Still nothing.
I just got in my zone and raced. Sugarloaf here I come! For those of you that don’t know, there are hills in Florida; this bad boy is no joke. I started that horrible slow climb. “I think I can; I think I can...” is all I kept saying to my self. Keeping the zone. All of a sudden I hear “What are you doing? Push harder Chelsea!! GOOOOO!” and tiny little voices, “Go, Miss Chelsea!” There they were! That day I not only became an Ironman but I was Overall female. A magical day!
Alesha was next!
In between, I had got pregnant with my girl and Alesha had a few bumps in the road. Never stopping her. A couple scares with breast cancer and following the last lumpectomy; six weeks later needing a hysterectomy. She quickly recovered and jumped back in. She signed up for a spontaneous sprint. Just to see where she was at. I loaded my boys and newborn and we were off! The tables had turned and I was so excited! I wanted to be there for her success. Chasing around the course with 7 children was amazing! I found my new love for racing: cheerleading! She killed this spontaneous race- two years off from racing and took 3rd in AG! October she will race again. The date is set, support crew shirts are made and we are counting down the days.
Sometimes it’s not all about racing. It’s about the friendships you make along the way!
Written by Chelsea Eboli
Follow Chelsea on Instagram! @cmeboli