I have been thinking about this a lot recently … about triathlon … running … swimming … biking. What about it that I enjoy. What gets me up at 4:30 on a Saturday morning to bike 50 miles, then go to the pool for a couple of more miles, then drag myself home, and Sunday get up again for a long run … then as a reward get to go back to work on Monday? Most people would see this as crazy. Does that make me abnormal .. or in some way am I more normal now than I was three years ago?
I am certainly not in it for monetary gain. More money has been spent in this endeavor than I will ever see in return. I will never be a pro. Not only because of my age and my ability level, but because I don’t have the mind set to be a pro. That single mindedness that is required to be that type of person. I’ve never been like that, and in my 50th year I am certainly not going to miraculously change to being that type.
I am not in it for glory. I will never stand on the podium as the winner of my age group, or Clydesdale class. Maybe when I am in the 80 year old age group and there are only two of us in Crystal River .. and even then probably not. I had written about this much earlier, about the killer instinct, and the fact that I don’t have that. I’ve found it recently at times, but it is not part of my make-up. I am not sure what the psychology is behind that issue. Maybe I tell myself that I don’t care about being beaten so that I don’t feel like a failure when it happens?
I don’t do it for weight loss. I went a whole year (2012) at the same weight, even with training 6 days a week and constantly in calorie deficit. If I was in it for weight loss I would have given up a long time ago. With the new way of eating I am losing again, but have gained the last three days, but I persevere and keep going. So no, weight loss and health is a by-product. It is not why I do it.
So why do I?
I think there are many reasons.
The people I have met through training are some of the best people I have ever met in my life. They support you when you triumph and even more so when you fail. When you DNF or DNS a race, there is no ridicule or disappointment. There is only support. Where in your life can you find that? Your family isn’t that supportive (normally) and are more inclined to find fault in what you do than see how it positively affects you and your life. Work definitely could care less. I have only worked in one place that felt supportive as a family should be, and that was Healthy Start in Tampa. I have not felt that any place since, and probably never will.
The way I feel about myself has changed. Not 100% turn around, but enough that people have noticed. I like to joke about it being me getting ornery in my old age, but this has given me a sense of pride and accomplishment. So at work when that person doing 60% less than every one else gets 100% of the credit, I look at them like, you know what? He’s the golden boy (or girl) because they have their nose shoved half way up the bosses ass, but I am betting he couldn’t go 70.3 miles swimming, biking, and running and still be standing at the end. So now when I see something wrong, or unfair, I am not quiet like I would be in the past. I state it. And I state it directly. Because, as the saying goes, the people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind just don’t matter any more. I am not out to please them, nor bow to them, nor treat them like they are better than I am. When they can toe the line with me at 6:00 AM and plunge into water so cold that it takes your breath away, but you finish that mile (.2) even if you backstroke the whole damn way, then bike until your legs burn like fire, then run when your legs feel like bricks … until they can do that along side me … they don’t matter. I think about what it means to people other than me, hearing when they cross the finish line of an Ironman … their name called out “Missy Asskicker .. you ARE an Ironman”. I have not heard that yet, but when I watch it, or hear my friends have their names called, it gives me goose bumps. I remember Jenny crossing the finish line at St. Anthony’s in 2011 breaking into tears because she hurt so much, but being so proud of what she did … and now seeing that she’s completed Half Ironman’s and the St. Anthony’s distance now being “a good work out”. That change, that metamorphosis, is something to behold. It is special. And that is part of it too. When you finish it is life changing. Exhilarating. But what is better is to watch someone that you have watched go from beginner to finishing, someone that you had a hand in helping along, like Megan. It’s as good as doing it yourself. What group of people can you name that finds triumph not only in their own accomplishments, but in someone else’s? Not a fake triumph. But a true feeling of victory.
So, no, triathlon is not a sport. It is much more than that. It is a way of thinking, or being. Triathlon … is a way of life. When I say I am a Fat Slow Triathlete, it is not meant as a deprecating statement. I am proud of being a Fat Slow Triathlete. I am out on that course longer than most people. I have come in last more than once. But the bottom line is that I have finished every race I have started. Every one. Even with bike issues in Augusta that added over an hour to my race (and probably more because it fried my legs) I did not quit. Even when I panicked in the swim (more than once) and wanted to quit and get the hell out of the water I didn’t give in to the fear. I finished.
I am a Fat Slow Triathlete …
… and I will be reckoned with