Ray Lopez at Kemah Triathlon

I completed my first Triathlon in Kemah, Texas April and it was a GREAT experience. What enhanced the experience for me was I was racing for a CAUSE and it was bigger than me! I was racing for Cherish Our Children International (COCI for short) and helped support under privileged children around the world. I would like to share with you!!!

 I am part of Team COCI (www.teamcoci.org) and we invite athletes to choose one event each season that challenges you to reach a new performance goal while we support your efforts in raising fund for the world’s most vulnerable children.

My situation is a bit different as I did not have a base line goal to beat as I was just doing my first event. So my goal was to complete the race and stay alive! The last part is a bit of a joke but that is actually what I responded to people when they asked of my goals.

To me, my bigger accomplishment was making a stand for children around the world. Some I have met personally through Team COCI functions and some I have watched videos on. I have never participated in any type of fund raising event so the experience was completely new to me. I was not sure what I was registering for, but I knew I could make the difference. I started sharing my story and what I was doing with the people around me and everyone was so supportive. The interesting part of this process was I got to know people better and learn more about them by sharing what I was doing. It created an opening for new conversations that I had never had with certain people and the end result was a closer relationship. It did not matter whether the end result was a donation to my page, the act of sharing what I was doing lit me up and also inspired the person I was sharing with. I remember sharing with someone what I was doing and what I was committed to and she forwarded the email to her contacts and I was getting support from people I would have never asked! I learned by my sharing you really never know the impact it makes. I would like to acknowledge the people who listened to me and helped support me in my event. Through the support of my family, friends and colleagues I raised $1,750 for COCI for this event and finished in a tie for 3rd place in the Giving Challenge (I tied with my wife). Thank you everyone for the support.

To me, this was the biggest impact because it made the difference for more than just me!!! So, it would be incomplete unless I shared my race experience. I swam 500 meters in the Gulf of Mexico, biked 12 miles and finished up with a 5k run. Going into the event I knew the swim was going to be the biggest challenge. I was telling myself to concentrate on my breathing, go at my pace and pray nobody tries to swim over me! I was expecting to get out of the swim in about 12 minutes based on a previous swim a few weeks back. With the waves it took me a little under 20 minutes. The waves played a huge role in the time. I felt as if I was swimming up and then I would ride the wave down. I remember kicking somebody and it felt as if they were directly underneath me. I was using too much of my legs so my left quad started cramping 3/4 of the way through. I fought through it and made it to the end of the swim. I was hoping it was not a muscle used on the bike! I do remember smiling out of the water so it could not have been too bad. Then it was off to the bike. The bike really sucked on the way out and I got passed by several people. I noticed myself looking at the people passing me and how they did not look in great shape but here they were zooming past me. On the way back the wind was on my back so I picked up the pace and finished the bike strong. Angelica (my fiancé) was in bike transition cheering me on and one comment that stuck out was “look at all bikes”. I looked around and most of the bikes were racked which meant I was far behind all the other athletes. She first said this I thought she was complimenting me on my good performance but then I realized she was telling me I was far behind and needed to catch up. I laughed inside a little and just kept going. The next portion was the run. I took off on the run and took it easy. I was not running fast however my heart rate was 190 beats per minute the whole run. I completed the run with no walking and made it to the finish line. My mom and Robert were close to the finish line cheering me on. I jumped in the ice bath and my muscles said Thank you.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you my experience. I look forward to racing more triathlons and being part of Team COCI.
Ray Lopez
Team COCI