Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The 3 parts of a Triathlon

This was posted to the list on Tuesday Apr 7, 2009 1:53 am


Though I'm still a triathlon newbie, I'm learning more every day!

I initially thought the three parts of a triathlon were "Swim, Bike, Run". Right?

Not quite: After what I've seen over the past several months, and with all the traffic on this list, I know that "Swim, Bike, Run" form just one part of a triathlon, namely, being a "Competitor". I now know there are two other vital parts of a triathlon: Being a "Volunteer", and being a "Spectator".

At my first introduction to triathlons, a very enthusiastic TCSD member took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. First: Go watch a tri and cheer for EVERY competitor. I was a spectator at last fall's Women's Tri: There is NOTHING better than cheering the LAST runner across the finish line! Woo-hoo! I also watched the first half of the CAF tri at La Jolla Cove. I saw a man with no legs and one arm fly through the swim. Wow, wow, WOW! More recently, I screamed and rang cowbells, scaring cyclists at the SuperFrog/SuperSeal event.

Next: Volunteer. A bunch of us volunteered at the last club tri of last season. After helping set up bike racks in the transition area, I was one of the people telling everyone to dismount from the bike before crashing into the cones. Not difficult, but I felt it was important! Those who recently volunteered at the Oceanside 70.3 did so much more.

While learning about "Spectatoring" and "Volunteering", I also started learning the "swim, bike, run" parts; the "Competition": Without the help of Beginner's classes (especially Jonathan's Beginner's Swim), the services of club sponsors (I did business with many of them), and tons of one-on-one advice and lessons, I'd be nowhere. With all the help, I figured out how to run on wobbly knees, I finally learned to swim, and I discovered all over again why I love my bike.

One thing I've learned from TCSD is that your first triathlon matters more than any other. My FIRST EVER tri was the March club tri. NEVER before have I had spectators cheering ME on by NAME! And if it weren't for the volunteers, I would have missed the timing mat, not once, but twice! My splits in that very first race exceeded my best hopes. Clearly, I've had LOTS of great help!

There are three active roles on the day of a triathlon: "Competitor", "Volunteer", and "Spectator". Each needs the other two for complete success.

Shouldn't we each be good at all three roles? It seems to me TCSD is very much about all three.

Then again, I'm only a newbie. Where does "Attend Club Meetings and Events" fit in? What about all the free coaching seminars? What about "Do Crazy Things To Raise Money"? What about helping each other with the "non-tri" parts of life?

All these together seem to me to form the next higher three aspects of "triathlon":
1. Go to triathlons in all roles (Compete, Volunteer, Spectate).
2. Be an active part of the Club (meetings/events/sessions, mentors/mentees, lead/assist).
3. Live the "Triathlon Lifestyle" (do all the above as often as possible, and help others do so as well).

Do I have this right? This triathlon newbie wants to know!

There's another thing too: In just a handful of months, I've encountered many "heroes" within TCSD. These people do amazing things, in ways I can't fathom, with talent and energy that leaves me gobsmacked. I have a hunch I'll stop being a "newbie" only when I start to become some kind of a minor "hero" for other triathletes and TCSD members. I hope so.

Maybe that's what "triathlon" really is, at least within TCSD. Three simple things: Striving to become more than what we were before, letting people help us along the way, with the goal of enabling the same in others.

Yeah, I'm sure "swim, bike, run" fits in there somewhere. Maybe as a metaphor. A really hard physical metaphor.


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