Sensitivity and the Fat Slow Triathlete

Note: This is an update of a previous post from May 2013. I was about to write about the subject again and was re-reading the previous post I had on the subject, and still feel these points are valid, so I have added this and made some new comments. Many have seen this already, but many new readers have not, so indulge me this one. Thanks, and Merry Christmas. 

Once again, before I post this entry, I have to admit to an admittedly “unmanly” aspect to my psyche.

I am a very sensitive guy.
Now, in this instance, sensitive does not mean I drink red wine daily, get manicures, cry at movies, and own the blue ray version of “The Notebook”. The answer to each of these would be No, Never, Rarely (“Parenthood”, “Big Fish”, “She’s Having a Baby”, and “Toy Story 3” are movies that tear me every time), and Please Stick Me In The Eye With a Fork First.
No, in my case it means I wear my emotions on my sleeve. If you know me personally you know this to be true. I say what I think (a trait that seems to be getting worse the older I get), even if it hurts someone’s feelings (usually unintentionally  … but I admit to doing it on purpose at times. I’m human. I like to poke the bear every once in awhile.), if I don’t like you, then you will know it, without question. I have a low tolerance for what I perceive to be dismissive or disrespectful. Maybe this is my Italian background? Probably not, but I do think it is due to how I grew up, being dismissed and disrespected, to the point that at my age I have decided to not put up with it anymore.
This obviously goes over very well at work.
I did grow up hearing my grandfather say that hard work is its own reward. He said that if you worked hard you will get noticed and you will advance. This has hardly been my experience. I served in the Navy for ten long years, advanced very quickly, and made E7 before exiting. I started college at the age of 27 and earned a BA, a Masters in Public Administration, and eventually an MBA. An example of what this work got me was evident in my first week at my present job. A peer had received an email from someone in another department and printed it out for us all to read. It was horrendous in grammar and spelling. It read like a third grader had written it. She then showed us the sender. After her name, in bold type, were the initials MBA.
Great.
Now, some know that all MBA’s are not the same, especially with the diploma mills like Keiser and Phoenix out here now, so I have seen numerous people carrying that credential who shouldn’t be, but there are more than that of us who worked our asses off for our educations, so when my direct supervisor made the comment “well that’s what happens when you get an MBA. You turn stupid.” It gave me immediate pause. This person, who I have to take direction from, has no respect for my experience or education.
Great start to a new job.
“But John,” you ask. “How does This relate to Triathlon??”
Let me tell you (remembering the aforementioned fact that I am a sensitive guy).
I work my ass off training for these races. I know I still am not the best, and that I have a lot of work still to ever become a top 10 in my age group, but for someone to post on Facebook, and in their blogs, that I somehow do not have the right to be racing if I have trouble in the swim, or on the bike, or on the run, is disrespectful and dismissive in my mind. It’s that elitist attitude that some athletes carry around with them that makes them want to have these races to themselves. These are the same people who buzz by you on the bike without saying on your left because they feel like, since they are “better” than you, then you have no right to be “in their way”. You know who they are. Those local to me have seen these assclowns doing loops at 28mph around Flatwoods. Are these athletes less dangerous than the weekend warrior plugged into music and oblivious to anything around them? 

I say they are the same.
I am not saying that I don’t understand their frustrations. Even in my current fitness level I have become annoyed at the swimmer in front of me flailing around, or doing a breast stroke, preventing me from passing. It takes every ounce of self control to not correct a swimmer in the pool doing “laps” making as much noise as they can, goggle-less, and head out of the water, barging worse than the Exxon-Valdez. During the Disney Half this year I got frustrated with the slower runners/walkers in front of me (and they had to be slow to be frustrating me) when we were being funneled, so I get where these “elites” are coming from. A lot of this stemmed from the recent announcement that an Ironman race is installing “rest rafts” on the swim course. I totally disagree with this, so let me be clear on that. If I were doing full Ironman races I would be ranting against this too. There are kayaks, buoys, etc. on the course in case you have an issue, so I do not see the need for these on the course. The only reason for this, as far I can see, is the ability for more advertising. Right up there with Carfrae pushing low-fat chocolate milk or Biscotti Cookie Butter in swag bags (this actually was an item in this year’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon). Money talks. But to make a statement that if we have anxiety or nervousness about a race prior means we are not ready is not correct. I work my ass off 6 days a week swimming, biking, and running. 

I am Fat, I am Slow, but I toe that line at every race and have finished every damn one of them, mostly in last place, but I am betting most of these elites can’t say the same thing.

Recent activity on the NSNG Facebook pages have shown this as well. There just seems to be an intolerance of others that don’t think exactly like you these days, and it’s a bit upsetting. I am not being political here, but I think it goes back to the “either you’re with us or against us” statement about 12 years ago. If you disagreed with anything the country was doing, you were labeled “un-american” by most of the talking head’s on news networks. This has spread to social networks like wild fire. I even started “unfriending” (such a juvenile word I know, but can’t think of another to convey the point) people during the recent election when their political rants went over the top. What happen to tolerance? What happen to civil discussion and debate? My mind has been changed a number of times by just listening to another person calmly discuss and explain a position. What happen to that??

The faceless, mostly anonymous, aspect of Facebook, Twitter, etc. has created a culture of invulnerability, where you can say anything you want, no matter how moronic or hurtful, and feel entitled to say it. I wasn’t going to get into the Duck Dynasty thing, but this comes to mind right now. I read what he said, and on the surface thought, “well, that’s his belief and he spoke his mind”. OK. It doesn’t affect me personally at all and makes no difference in my life. Who really cares what this pseudo celebrity thinks? Why have we assigned such importance to it?? But here come the Facebook Police, from both sides of the issue, either condemning him or holding him up as some hero of free speech. 

Look, this is the United States, you have the right to say anything you damn well please, but it is also a country, supposedly, of tolerance and compassion, which we have lost somewhere along the way. If you say some that doesn’t represent the values of the company you work for, it is NOT infringing on your right to free speech people. I think maybe we all need to re-evaluate who we label as important enough to care about what they think.

Simple words, even when used in context, get blown out of proportion because of the over-sensitivity of the current culture. Even something I posted on Facebook was jumped on by one person because she felt it was a “bad word”. I said a person’s comment was “stupid”. Actually what I had stated was  that you “can’t sure stupid”, stealing from Ron White’s comedy act. Bottom line is that you can be a very smart person and say stupid things … doesn’t make you stupid (watch C-Span for awhile and you’ll get my point. No politician is really stupid, but man they say stupid things all the time.).

The other thing I saw yesterday was the same thing we see every year at this time, the debate of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”. Seriously. Does it really offend a person if you say one or the other? Does it really matter in the large scope of things? There was another issue I read yesterday about using the spelling of “Xmas”. Once again, the person against it was saying it “takes the Christ out of Christmas”. Now, I know we all know this isn’t true right? Right??

“Xmas” is not a non-religious version of the word Christmas, and actually dates back to the year 1485. The “X” is the greek letter “Chi”, which is short for the greek word , which means “Christ”. “Xmas” and “Christmas” are actually the same thing. So please, let it go people!

Until next time, have a Merry Xmas!!

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