Back on the Course

This morning I did my first in person, outdoor sprint triathlon in almost two years. By luck, it’s the same race I’ve been doing for more than a decade and was the first tri I ever did. In addition, I had the bonus today of doing the race with my husband and a good friend. I’m pretty sure they both kicked my butt. I’m totally okay with that.

Me with the list of racers who’ve been doing this for 10 years or more.

I’ve never been a big sport person. I was on the high school diving team my freshman and sophomore years. I was terrible. But very few kids were on high school diving teams so my mere presence earned points regularly. In college I did synchronized swimming for a year. It wasn’t a competitive sport and was a blast.

Early in my teaching career I played softball with some colleagues. We were definitely not a competitive team. We were out there having fun. I also spent some time coaching a youth synchronized swimming team.

When my second kid was born I decided I had to put some effort into getting back in shape. I signed up for a 5K to make myself run. That worked for a bit. But then I realized I could run a 5K without training – not well, to be honest, but I could do it. So I needed to take it up a notch. As I love the water, note the diving and synchronized swimming, a sprint triathlon felt like a good option. My second kid is 14 and I’ve been doing sprint tris for that long. I suck at them. I’m slow at all three parts. But I keep doing them.

The finishers medal from today’s race. It might be my favorite.

Today, it felt so good to be back at a race I’ve done more than any other. I recognize the race organizers. It’s in the town I lived in from 6th grade until I got married. I know the course, for both the bike and the run.

Then, there’s the community at a triathlon. Athletes, volunteers, and the families and friends of the athletes are all supportive and encouraging. People talk to each other like they’re old friends, even though they’ve only just met and likely will never see each other again. The cheering and cow bells for everyone, regardless of their ability or if they’re strangers.

As I neared the end of the run and could hear the cheers at the finish line, I got teary. I felt like I did a couple of weeks ago when my oldest and I went to see Straight No Chaser at Wolf Trap. The feeling of being in community with a huge number of total strangers. A shared experience. It is a powerful feeling and I’ve missed it very much.

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