Monday, September 14, 2020

The Littlefoot Sprint Tri

 Technically it was a duathlon. 

And I just remembered that the one other time I did this race (10 years ago), the swim was cancelled on that day as well. Anyway...

In any other year when you show up to a local sprint triathlon, there are significantly less race wheels and Ironman tattoos. But on August 17th at 9:00am when registration opened (I know the date and time because I had a reminder set), all of us crazy tri-obsessed athletes sold out the Littlefoot Sprint in 4 hours.

My favorite part about the race was transition. Not necessarily T1 and T2, but the whole setup of it: the blow-up arches, the bike racks, the volunteers, the casual pre-race conversations with the athletes near your rack. I missed being around the energy that only comes with this collection of people. 

It's very specific.

We all love our sport so much that we've been waiting around all year for Racing Underground to send out an email saying, "this race is happening." (I know I'm not the only one who set a reminder.) There's nothing casual about this group. That doesn't mean we're not friendly and supportive of each other. We deeply missed cheering for each other out on the course. We want everyone to feel fulfilled and accomplished and successful in their own way. 

But we also want to cross the finish line before everyone else. We're secretly hoping that today will be our breakout performance, regardless of what we've been doing all summer. We really do want everyone to win... but we want ourselves to win just a little bit more. We came here to have a good time and do what we love to do, and we're also willing to bury ourselves in pain to move up a spot on the leaderboard.

It's comforting to be around these people because we're all the same kind of crazy. We've been missing not only our sport, but our people. This year I've realized that it's important for me to be around my team, but I didn't realize until Saturday that I also need to be around other racers that I don't really know. 

The funny thing is, I actually do recognize a lot of their faces. I recognize some of their names as I'm stalking the start list the night before. Maybe we've never actually spoken to each other, but it's also entirely possibly that we have. I probably made a really bad joke at some point mid race, like I did on Saturday as I sat on the ground in T2, looked at the athlete sitting on the ground next to me and said, "I'm more of an Ironman transitioner." That's neither a funny, nor well thought-out joke. He gave me a very sweet pity chuckle but he didn't laugh. The point though, wasn't whether or not the joke was funny. The point was that it was a joke I could have only made mid-race to another athlete sitting on the ground taking his sweet ass time in T2. Because he's my people.

Even though the commitment and consistency of training are what matters over the long term, we need race days to remind us that it's ok important to celebrate who we are and why we do what we do. We are our best selves when we're in our arena, feeding off each others' energy. We take comfort in the fact that the mass of people out there paying money to physically torture themselves truly gets us. They see us, and we see them on a deeper level than most people do. They're rooting for us in a way that most people don't have the capacity to root for us....

While simultaneously hoping that at least on this day, they're just a little bit faster than we are. And that's what we're hoping as well. 

So cheers to my people. I missed you guys. I hope I get to see you again soon.

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