Imagine training hard for an event, knowing you've done everything you possibly could to have the best race possible. Between the job, the kids, the aching back and overbooked chiropractor and life in general, it's amazing you're going to be able to do this at all. All of the sacrifices will be worth it (and believe me, there's many if you're the working, parenting variety of triathlete). Now imagine getting to your ready-to-go bike in the transition racks with less than two hours until race start, only to see a gaping hole in your tire staring back you. Sure, one of your competitors will have a spare tube for you, but who carries an entire spare tire? No one. This is what my friend Speedy was dealing with at 5am Sunday morning, complete and utter disaster.
Enter our heroes of the day, Jeremy Wilson from Speed Theory and Chris Manore from Leading Edge Triathlon Club. Faced with a panicking athlete, Chris used his connections and approached Jeremy, who had a spare tire and let Speedy use it. Chris and Jeremy, you may never read this but if you do, you should know that your act of kindness made the difference between wasted sacrifices and Speedy finishing second in her age category. So from the bottom of Speedy's heart (and mine), thank you!
My race was seemed typical to me. The swim was the hardest I've ever done, every single meter of the 500 meter course was a battle with the freezing cold ocean. The bike went well, even the downhill (yes, I white knuckled the brakes) and the run was what I expected, painful but I still managed to hold a slow and steady pace. I expected to go home with a PB and toast myself with a beer. Until I saw the posted times. My time was one of the slowest I have ever had. Ever. Normally this would be the part where I questioned ever racing again, saying mean things to myself and wondering what's the point if you're so slow? But not this time. This time all I could see were all of the little victories that can't be described by a set of numbers. Successful swim in breathtakingly cold temps, feeling stronger than ever on the bike and of all things, my fastest run to date. I had fun, left everything I had on the course and actually felt kind of proud of myself. And it only took five years to realize this! Who doesn't love a good epiphany?
Triathlon is all about the camaraderie between athletes and regular, every day humans pushing themselves into the "How is that actually possible?" realm. Ask any triathlete and they've benefited from the kindness of others in unexpected disasters. Stand on the bike course and you will hear the calls of "Good job" or "You're doing great" between competitors. How many sports can boast that kind of sportsmanship? Just don't get in the water. Nobody has any friends on the swim.
Another race done and dusted and more importantly, a big step towards the next goal: A half-Ironman race in 2015. Who's with me?