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Meditations on my upcoming triathlon

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I am now fully equipped for the triathlon, having received my wetsuit in the mail. And having tried it on to make sure I could actually get into it. With black boots and a mask, I could be a chubby superhero:

Yesterday, as I was biking in the pouring rain, I contemplated the fact that there is a substantial non-zero chance that I will be in last place at this triathlon. This is not some kind of ploy to have people cheer me on or anything, it's just a reality: I am fat, I am old, I am slow. I do not mind being last, but I mind the reason WHY I will probably be last.

And it has nothing to do with my own fat/old/slowness. It has to do with the fact that most people who are in the shape I'm in, or even slightly better, wouldn't even consider entering a triathlon. Not because, "ugh, I'd never want to do that" -- which is a perfectly legitimate way to feel, as no one is required to participate in athletic events that don't appeal to them. No, it's because there are many people in this shape or slightly better who are thinking, "wow, I could never do that."

And that's sad to me. It's sad that people don't feel like they should participate in such events unless they are going to be good at them, and they will never get good at them because they won't participate.

I have seen this at pretty much every 5k I've attended, particularly the ones that are labelled "5k run/2-mile walk." I realize that the race coordinators are trying to make the event appeal to a wider audience, but there seems to be an implication that if you can't RUN for 5k, then you'd better settle for the walk. At every one of these events, I start out in the middle of a good-sized crowd of walkers and slow joggers. Then we get to the turn-around spot and suddenly I'm at the back with only a handful of people. After a while, that handful diminishes further as people who can't jog the whole way drop out. Some of them, no doubt, have a physical reason why they can't continue. But others would rather slink away and remain anonymous than finish and see a time that embarrasses them.

I say nuts to that. If it takes you 50 minutes, or 75 minutes to finish a 5k, you are still lapping the guy on the couch. If it takes me 4 hours to complete this sprint-length triathlon, I will still be able to say that I did it. And I will have fun, because I don't have to be young and thin and fast to enjoy my body moving and taking on a challenge.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Here here, Miss G! I agree totally with you!

    I did my first race EVER at age 57 - because my Spark Teammates encouraged me to try. I came in 2nd place - because it was a small venue (300 racers) and there weren't many in my age category. After I accomplished that, I felt like I could do more. One of our teammates - JaneTris - encouraged me to do a triathlon. I finished 5th in my division - again, a small venue super-sprint with not a lot of women in my age category. But, I tried it and I finished. And I came back for more this year!

    You look great in your wet suit. Did you like swimming in it?
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    1679 days ago
  • OPTIMIST1948
    I didnt see this post until AFTER you had your Tri, but I still think there is tremendous wisdom in accepting yourself where you ARE and moving forward from that.
    1681 days ago
    You look great in the wetsuit! I love the superhero comment. When I ran cross country in high school I came in last a few times, which was not the coolest thing back then as a teen, but it still was great to know many of my friends would not even attempt a 5k. Speed and finishing time is relative, but the ability to get up and move your body is absolute!
    1685 days ago
    Quitters never prosper. You can't get anywhere if you don't try.
    1686 days ago
    I love that thought...lapping the guy on the couch! Keep Sparkin'!!
    1686 days ago
    MissG, you are Awesome! For just a second I thought you were planning on biking in your wetsuit, since you were talking about it raining and all. Haha.
    You will do great on your triathlon. Why? Because you are going in with the best attitude in the world!
    I am looking forward to reading ALL about it!
    1686 days ago
    My first triathlon I was last place, and I had to have my cane transported to T2 for me.

    This triathlon I was NOT last place, and I did NOT use a cane.

    You go for the gusto, whatever!
    1686 days ago
    I never thought of it that way but your right. Just because I won't be good at something doesn't mean I shouldn't try it. Great blog!
    1686 days ago
    You are going to have a great race because you are participating for all the right reasons. I wish more people would TRI it! I always say that it doesn't matter when you finish. It matters that you showed up, you went for it and you did finish. Have fun!
    1686 days ago
  • HILLSLUG98239
    I'm nearly 200 pounds. I've told a LOT of people about my triathlon plans. No one, including the super-fit triathletes I've told, has given me the "you're crazy" look. No one has suggested I can't do it.

    I talk a lot about how active I am. I know a lot of people at the courthouse see me coming & going on my bike and going out for walks at lunch. I'm hopeful that I serve as a reminder that fitness is not reserved for the thin. Fitness and good health is something we all deserve, and even fat people can make positive changes.

    But I'm sure I'd be more of an inspiration if I was a superhero. emoticon
    1686 days ago

    Crossing the Finish line is what is important, not crossing it first or at the lead of a pack. Sometimes we forget that the goal doesn't have to be the gold medal for us to have done something pretty darned amazing.

    And LOVE the super-hero pose. (Just need the towel cape. ^_~)
    1687 days ago
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    1687 days ago
    1687 days ago
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