This morning I did my 25th sprint triathlon. I did my first race in May of 2008. Sprint triathlons, before you get impressed, are short. They may or may not be fast but that’s more about the triathlete than it is about the race. Typically they are a quarter mile swim, a twelve mile bike ride, and a five K run. Today’s race was about 15 miles on the bike, but otherwise was standard.
Pre and post race selfies. (I don’t look fabulous when I get up at 5 am, throw on clothes, brush my teeth, and hit the road with my bike and such. So the pre race selfie doesn’t look noticeably better than the post race selfie. It is what it is.)
I have never placed in a race. In fact, I am frequently last in my age group. In spite of doing this for a decade I do not seem to be improving. I have enough of a growth mindset to believe I could improve if I were willing to put in the time and energy. I am not. I exercise three to five times a week for thirty minutes to an hour. But that exercise routine isn’t really training for tris. I (mostly) eat healthy. When I race, which I do two or three times a year, most years, it is ugly. It is slow and it really isn’t impressive. But I keep doing it.
And, I realized today, I do it with a smile. I know this is true not because I am aware of it but because volunteers, police officers, and fellow racers remark on it. Every race multiple people say something to me about how I am smiling through it. I am not sure why this is true. There is nothing to convince me I am actually enjoying the process. I like having done triathlons, not actually doing them.
I also tend to be absurdly polite during races. Athletes and volunteers are, for the most part, some of the kindest, most encouraging people you’ll ever meet. They cheer everyone on and encourage each other. It’s a delightful community. They are still, at least some of them, pretty darn competitive. They don’t always warn you that they’re passing on the bike or the run (I am so grateful to those who do because it freaks me out when I don’t get a warning and someone flies past me) and aren’t always willing to let you pass in the pool. (Can you tell I’m better at the swim than the bike or run? It stinks that it’s the least amount of time, by a long shot, in the race.)
I warn folks if I’m passing. I thank folks who warn me. I thank the volunteers and police officers who are stopping traffic and encourage us all. I know I’m not going to win so it doesn’t really cost me anything to take a second to let others know I appreciate their efforts. Maybe I’d behave differently if I had a chance at placing…