A few days ago I received my information packet for the HITS Ocala Triathlon in two weeks. In it was the normal things, like the Athlete Guide and Parking Pass, but there was one more thing; a link to a site to “share your triathlon story”.
Unlike a lot of people, I don’t mind these things because it gives me a chance to put down in words just why I would pursue a sport like this when knowing I will never be a top competitor and in most cases will be scared to death until I get out of the water. I mean, legally crazy people don’t do things like this right? Anyway, the third or fourth question gave me pause. It was a simple question:
Who is your idol in Triathlon?
I am sure that when they posted this they expected the usual answers …
Now, don’t get me wrong, these people are outstanding triathletes. But are they my “idol”?
An Idol, to me, is someone you look up to, respect, admire, aspire to be like. While these people are ultimate pro’s, I don’t know any of them personally, so it’s hard for me to consider them an “idol”. I have no idea what, if any, hardship they have had to overcome in their life to get where they are. I have no idea if they help the needy, give free lessons to age groupers, brake for animals … anything that I, personally, would consider worthy of “idolship”. In the end I think when you put professionals, celebrities, and the like up on a pedestal as an idol you inevitably end up disappointed (as an example, how many people idolized Lance Armstrong?).
To me, an idol is someone you have to know personally. Some who you are aware of the things they do in and out of the sport. They may not be perfect, after all who of us is (with the exception of me of course), but they give of themselves, they overcome, they have gutsy performances that leave you with your mouth hanging open, or shaking your head as they fly past you on the run even with a broken toe. THESE are the people you respect and look up to each day. In my case, they are:
Jennifer Cultrera: For getting me involved in the sport and being beside me in every race, every challenge, every victory and every last place finish. She has faced her own challenges and demons and never backs down. She is one of a kind. Above all, though, Jennifer is a great doctor, because she actually cares about the patients in her care, a trait that is all too often missing these days with doctors. She had every opportunity to become jaded, and has remained true to herself and her mission.
Kristie (KC) Concepcion: Our Coach, who we connected with through Daily Mile, and who freely offered us advice and support in the very beginning, progressing from acquaintance, to coach, to friend. She is one of the FEW people I take advice from, both in Triathlon and in day to day life, and I don’t give that freely. I can be kind of stubborn in that way.
Summer Bailey: As I mentioned earlier, broke her toe in T1 in Augusta, and finished the race, lapping me as if I was standing still. This girl is no bigger than a minute and is one of the toughest people I have ever met. In addition, she is a cop, and that in of itself deserves respect.
I met Megan as a part of Team in Training, and there are MANY reason to look up to this woman. Not only a very good athlete, but someone that doesn’t back away from a challenge, moving from running to being a triathlete in one season. In addition, Megan herself is a cancer survivor, but you would never have known that by her actions or words, but above all, Megan is probably the most supportive person I have known. She always has the time to lift you up, give you encouragement, tell you that “you can do it”, even when she has doubts about her own ability.
These are the people that deserve to be looked up to, the people you know, the people that have helped you and were there for you when you needed them. The people you have witness give gutsy performances, not on TV, but right in front of you. I hope that when others fill this out that they mention these local triathletes, or coaches, or team members. These are the ones out there each day after working, taking care of kids, paying bills, cooking dinner … and still finding time to train and prepare for long distance races.