Back when I was a kiddo, I lived for amusement park visits. Unfortunately, I usually only got to go to one about once a year. It was always for my Mom's company picnic for work, and we were priviliged enough to go to the now defunct Astroworld (RIP) in Houston, TX. I absolutely could not wait for this day every year. The event would always take place in blistering Texas summer heat. We would eat at Denny's on the way there and would be in the park before they ever even let you cross the yellow painted chain to run for the rides. I waited at that chain, anxiously, excitedly, constantly changing my strategy on where I would run first.

The selection of rides was relatively static. There may be a new show every summer, but for the big thrill rides, a new one only came along every so often. But even with that same group of rides every year, there was one - oh, that one - that always made me shiver. At the time, I was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old. I had been to the park and ridden all but two rides in the previous years. I loved the roller coasters. The drops, the sinking feeling in your stomach as you plummeted down a drop, the screams of the kids behind me.

My Mom didn't share the same passion, but luckily her best friend did. I spent every visit at Astroworld with Mom's buddy Brenda. Brenda loved the rides as much, if not more, than I did. She would happily ride everything with me - twice. But that one ride. The wooden roller coaster with four drops. It rattled. It wasn't kids screaming, it was adults. All the cool kids with their HyperColor shirts and sunglasses rode it. The teenage cool kids. I was barely in middle school. The Texas Cyclone.

I had psyched myself up one year that the next year would be THE year. I would ride the Texas Cyclone. I would walk up there with Brenda and I would ride.

The day finally came, company picnic time. I put the ride off all day. We would get to the west side of the park and Brenda would say, "Are you ready?" I would find some excuse - I needed to go to the bathroom, I was thirsty, after we rode something else.... Finally, that was the only one left. It was ride the Cyclone then go home.

The path up to the ride was a sidewalk that ran through the base of the coaster. As you walked up to the loading deck, the cars sped over you - thumping, screaming, shaking. The wood shook. Paint flakes fell off the wood. Did I mention the screaming? The walk to the dock took 3-5 minutes. My stomach flipped. My hands were shaky. I could actually feel tears starting to well up into my eyes.

We finally reached the stairs. The line wasn't terrbly long that day, so we only had to wait a few minutes until we were at the front of the line. I watched the people in front of us load up and get shuttled out - excitement and fear in all of their faces. Even the cool teenage kids. They looked worried. In two minutes and change, they were back. Hair disshelveled, some faces smiling, others with a mild look of shock. The seat bar raised, the gate opened.

THAT IS EXACTLY HOW I FELT THIS MORNING. I felt just like that little girl, years ago waiting to ride the Texas Cyclone. My stomach flipped, and while making coffee, I even had tears well up in my eyes.

My swims have not been going well. Sure, there have only been TWO of them, but I have no patience. I expected them to be a bit better than they were. The brick workout was a huge wake up call as to how my body will react to a multisport event. I'm nervous. I'm scared. I'm excited. I have no idea what the hell I am doing.

But I remembered - this is why I signed up. I signed up because I loved roller coasters. I love scaring the shit out of myself then coming through on the other side smiling and laughing. This is why I do what I do. It's why I did a half marathon, then another. And it's why I have decided to give tri a chance. I love the rush. So while I am feeling like that little girl, I cannot wait to get on that ride tomorrow. I am so ready. So excited. It's going to be tough, but I will do it. I'll share when it's all over.

Oh, and as for the Cyclone? I walked through the gate then stepped right across the seat and headed back down. Yep, I bailed. I cried the whole way down. But that summer I got lucky enough to make a second visit to Astroworld, and I decided I never wanted to feel that way again. So with my Dad, I boarded the ride. It was amazing. Awesome. It became my absolute favorite from that point on. And when I found out a few years ago that it was being destroyed and the park closed, tears welled up in my eyes again. This time though it was because the Cyclone would forever be gone and I could never feel those nerves walking up in line again. Until now...

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