Letter: Oh, yes. You can.

Oh, no. You can’t!

Oh, yes. You can!

What is your mind telling you at this very moment? 

Have you ever really stopped to listen to what your mind is saying to you, minute by minute, day by day, year by year, decade by decade? 

Be honest with yourself and your one precious life. How are you living it? 

The Malibu Triathlon has been a family tradition ever since my husband and I biked along Zuma Beach in the late summer of 1996. As we biked in the parking lot, we saw people setting up an event. We asked the person, “What are you doing?” They replied, “Setting up for the Malibu Triathlon tomorrow.” My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I looked at each other and looked back at the person setting up the tables and asked, “Is it too late to sign up?” They replied, “No.” We both said—“Sign us up.” 


We didn’t even have swim goggles, but we thought, why not? That was 24 years ago. We managed to get to CVS later that day to purchase a couple of goggles and we ate pasta the night before, but that was the extent of our preparation for the Triathlon the next morning. What was our time? Who cares—we had the time of our life! 

Since 1996, I’ve participated in the Malibu Triathlon time and time again. With friends on teams, with my son and daughter, and even managed to win the “celebrity” division when I was the Malibu Mayor in 2008. (I had hoped to represent Malibu and inspire others to say “If she can do it, then anyone can!”). 

Last week, I signed up for the first ever Virtual Malibu Triathlon at the last minute. The regular Triathlon had been cancelled because of COVID-19, but the “virtual” Malibu Triathlon was on. I wanted to see if I could do it, and to also give back to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles—a wonderful local nonprofit that literally saves children’s lives on a daily basis. 

I decided to do another “train and taper” week—one of my favorite things to do. Work hard and also rest at the same time. Because I have been running and biking on the peloton—I knew that, most likely, my body could handle the four-mile run and the 17-mile bike portion, but the swim . . . well, not so much. Little did I know that I already had a secret weapon pushing me to get in the ocean and swim with sea lions, sharks and dolphins. 
What was that secret sauce? My mom and her wetsuit. I had helped my father clean out my mom’s closet recently (she passed away from Covid on May 5, 2020). My father gave me her wetsuit. At the time, I didn’t even think about ever using it, but I thought maybe we could use her wetsuit for visitors who didn’t have a wetsuit. 
On Saturday Sept. 26, I put on my mom’s wetsuit to do the triathlon. 
As I entered the ocean with its crashing waves—a part of me thought, “Oh dear God. What if I have a heart attack?” (I had tried to get my husband and friends to join me, but they just weren’t ready.) Thank God my husband did agree to watch me from the beach . . . just in case. More importantly, thank God I was wearing my mom’s wetsuit. 
The water was cold, the waves were crashing and it was just me and the wide open ocean ahead. I didn’t want to go, but I had just seen some friendly neighbors on the beach who had just completed a birthday swim for a local 80-year-old earlier that morning.
No excuses. I needed to do this. I needed to conquer my fear of being alone and in the ocean. My mind started to say—No you can’t. Then, I remembered that 80 year old who had just swam, and I had my mom’s wetsuit on. My mom was a fighter. She was strong, to the bitter end. Tears began to well up, and the salt water began streaming from my eyes. The salt water licking at my body seemed to meld together with the salt water in that vast ocean. I put my head down and dove under the wave and began the long—not so long, really—half-mile swim.
I managed to complete that swim and the triathlon yesterday. It was my longest time ever clocking in at 2:49:48, but it was honestly one of my best Malibu Triathlon times so far.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to do the triathlon and forever grateful for my mom, and that voice inside my head that said—Oh, yes. You can! I hope my mom can also inspire you to never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. All you need to do is listen and say—oh yes! You can! Thank you, Mom!
#RiseandRaiseMalibu #OhYesYouCan

Pamela Conley Ulich

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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