It never fails me to realize my involvement in my sport (triathlon). Being able to be part of this on so many different levels, coach, announcer, athlete to name a few is something I never, ever take for granted. I get to see this sport from so many different perspectives and for some reason, especially right now I feel like I am falling in love with it all over again.
This weekend Curt and did first timer and transition clinics at the Strassburg Sock Keuka Lake Triathlon. Our clinics are always free because it is our way to give back to the sport that has given us so much. Through the years we have literally done everything. We know what it’s like to be a beginner and have no idea what to expect. We know racing intricately and we truly love to share that.
A woman came to both of our clinics, and I had a feeling she was a beginner by the look in her eyes. That “oh my GOD I can’t believe I am about to do this.”. She listened intently and asked good questions. She revealed to us at the end of the session that she was going to wait until the morning to register, just in case she chickened out.
I think the hardest part of taking on a new challenge is the sign up. I remember a few years ago one of my athletes was considering an Ironman. He sent me the ‘what if’ email, and we bounced around the idea. Then he said “I hit submit and went outside and threw up.” and now….. he’s a seasoned veteran at the distance.
Now it doesn’t have to be Ironman… in fact another post for another day coming soon is about my love of short course. But hitting the proverbial submit button is the hardest part. The second hardest part is walking up to the starting line.
So we convinced her to sign up that night. She did. I had tears in my eyes as I got to announce her across the finish line, realizing that I got to witness such an amazing feat. The look of sheer terror in her eyes from the day before became pure pride. She came up to me after the race and I got to give her a BIG HUG. I don’t know her, I didn’t know her before yet I felt so proud.
I absolutely LOVE to watch people overcome THEMSELVES. To allow something to be new and awkward and totally out of the realm of what they think is possible. And then do it. There was a day when I was fascinated by the pros, these days I am fascinated by people like this woman. It’s a different journey for her. 24 hours previous (and longer) she had no idea that she was capable of this. But she prepared and she learned…. that she IS.
That’s the journey I love. I love to see people achieve things they may not have thought they could. Or they thought they could but weren’t sure….. or maybe didn’t take the time for themselves.
Recently one of my childhood friends got started in the sport. A high school swimmer, I am sure he knew he could do it. But I got to see the look on his face when he crossed the line for his first. In fact I got to announce him! There is something about that moment that grabs me.
As a race announcer I get to see thousands of those looks, from people I know and people I don’t. Want inspiration at a triathlon? Stay until the end. We all know the most inspirational time during an Ironman is midnight. You see what you don’t see off the front. I can’t even explain it.
We all bring our own story to this sport. If you are like me you have a few stories and a few different chapters. As a coach I love to know the why. WHY are you here. WHAT brings you back? It helps me as a coach, but truth be told…. it inspires me.
We are working with such an amazing group of people right now. Their stories range from “can I do this?” to “It’s my first year as a pro…. how do I navigate this?“. I don’t have all of the answers, but I love the journey of learning them together. As coaches we are just the GPS on the dashboard, our athletes are really the drivers. My coaching education has now spanned almost 13 years. I have learned some hard lessons, but the lessons that teach you the most are the hard ones. I have learned some important lessons, again the ones that teach you the most are. I have even learned when I need to step out of the way. I can’t fix everything and I can’t fix anyone. But I can help direct into the right direction, and sometimes if the athlete doesn’t think it is the right direction…. it’s enough to enable them to find it. It’s part of being…. human.
What I gain from all of the roles I get to play in this sport far outweighs what I give, I am certain of that. And that is what has caused me to begin this new chapter of my triathlon career. A book has many chapters. Life has many chapters and so can, triathlon. This one is called short course. More on that later.
Thank you. Thank you to all of you who allow me to be part of your journey. Whether I am the GPS (coach), whether I get to connect with you in a clinic, or whether you choose to do a Score This !!! race and allow me the honor of bringing you through the finish line….. I am sorry for sounding corny but man… it’s an honor.