I've been thinking a lot in the offseason [dangerous, I know]. When you hang out on triathlon message boards and read triathlon blogs and talk triathlon every day with triathletes ... you tend to forget that it's a very (very very very) small group of people who do what we do.
Sometimes I feel like everyone I know has done a marathon and an Ironman and has qualified for Boston/ Kona/ podiums/ wins. It's what happens when a lot of your friends do what you do. and while we shouldn't rest on our laurels and our past races and our past PRs - it is, of course, our goals and ambitions that drive us to the bigger and better - we should remind ourselves that what we do is pretty damn cool. and pretty damn impressive.
you might be dissapointed with a crappy half marathon, but to someone who has never run a mile - you are a rockstar. you may never qualify for Kona, but you are among a very small group of people who can say I AM AN IRONMAN.
Just "tri-ing" is a big step. It's one of the reasons I just became a mentor on beginner triathlete. it's so exciting to see my mentees take on their first sprint triathlon, their first half marathon, their first half ironman. I will never be elite. I will never run a sub 3 hour marathon or a sub 4:30 HIM. But: I can encourage and support and pass on what I've learned to others. I'm very much looking foward to encouraging my mentees and see their progress and successes.
As 2009 comes to close I urge you all to step back from your 2010 goals, from your 2010 races and predicted race times to look back over the past year, the past few years, and congratulate yourself. you are a rockstar. just for getting out there and doing it. just for leaving it all on the course. just for signing up and showing up.
That Guy. You know him. He can also be That Girl, and often is.
It is that guy (or girl) who you see at every race. He's at every one. Everywhere in the country.
He is always more tan than you are. He is usually a good bit thinner too. His calves have those mysterious vertical striations that define each individual muscle; as if to say, "I have spent hours training each individual muscle in each calf- each individual muscle fiber in fact."
He/she has triathlon clothing that is super cool that you've never seen before. You have no idea where it came from. If you were to ask him- if you mustered up the courage to approach him- you would get some vague answer like, "Ahh, well, I know Dave McGillicutty at Sweetass Trisports and he got these samples, prototypes really, that he….. blah, blah, blah…." And you just wanted to know where you could buy a pair of those cool trishorts he has. Maybe they would make your ass look like Michalangelo chiseled it too. Prolly not though.
So this guy (or girl): His bike is clean. It is also weird. It has parts you think you may have seen in a magazine and, is that what carbon fiber looks like? Half the stuff he has, no, all of it, is stuff you've either only seen in magazines or never even heard of.
He's wearing sunglasses. But he didn't buy them. They just kind of "got there". He drives a special car just for doing what he's doing now: Getting ready for a ride, a run, a swim workout or the triathlon you're at now. He has stickers all over it.
You know when he talks about "Hawaii" he isn't talking about the state as a vacation destination, but rather, an event that you've only seen on TV. He is either talking about getting into it, having already gotten in, or why his last race there wasn't as good as it should have been. It had something to do with some chemical in his body you've never heard of. "Too much polychondrotineospandoplasm in my maldochondriacts during the last ten miles of the run. I should have know better." Yeah, an obvious mistake for someone like that guy (girl). Another thing that guy knows that you don't. Polywhat in his maldowho?
So you get to the race and there is that guy. Setting up all his stuff in the transition area like he's done probably a thousand times before, or so it seems.
And that guy is the reason why so many people are afraid to give this sport (and many others) a try. Because you know you are not That Guy (or girl) and they will look at you and think "Oh, another novice athlete…." And maybe you are embarrassed by that. I know I have been.
That guy is experienced, dedicated, accomplished, fit, knowledgeable, well versed and respected in the sport. You are a beginner. So you are at the bottom of the food chain here. You may be the big woman or man at work and at home. But here you feel like the first day of kindergarten and you don't even know where the bathroom is but you have to go. It's been a long time since you felt like that.
And you'll feel embarrassed in front of that guy.
Consider this though: You are that guy. You are that girl. Don't understand? Let me explain.
On the hypothetical morning we're describing you got up early, loaded up whatever bike you have (the old mountain bike you've had since you were 16, that old ten speed from college, whatever), put the gear you scrapped together in your car and went to the race. You stood there in your sweats and registered, set up your transition area as best you could.
Welcome to the show my friend. You are walking the walk.
You made that monumental leap off the couch and into the realm of That Guy. And now you, to millions and millions and millions of people- you are That Guy.
The next time you go to work when the conversation comes up about what you did Sunday morning you will say, "Oh, ahh, well I did this little triathlon, my first one, I'm not really any good, I was nearly last…."
But to the people at work, and your family, and your friends, and everyone else not there on Sunday morning (and some that were…) you are That Guy. The guy who does those endurance races. Who works out all the time (even if you don't). Who eats right (even though you don't).
Pretty soon it will get around work, what you did Sunday morning, and someone will ask you, "Hey, ahh, have you ever done that one in Hawaii?"
And then you answer, "Oh, Hawaii, no, I'm not that good. I've never done Hawaii…" And to you now it is just "Hawaii". You are That Guy. To someone out there you are That Guy.
Everyone has That Guy. He's better, faster, smarter, luckier. The interesting thing about That Guy is, to someone- you are that guy. No matter who you are, there will be That Guy. Don't let him bother you. Do what you do. Remember, to someone, you are that guy.