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The solitary triathlon creature

My latest triathlon magazine came in the mail yesterday. I breezed through it in maybe 30 minutes...it was interesting. But then I was done. I've been staying away from the websites, too, just checking in now and then to see if anything worthwhile has been posted. This is a contrast to when I first started thinking about triathlon--or marathons even--and was far more intrigued by the details. What other people did, how other people trained. Everything was so foreign to me...the jargon, the equipment, the mentality of people who bike 100 miles THEN go run 26 miles. So I soaked it up. If you're new to the sport, I recommend you do the same. Triathlon is not a sport one does casually. 

Not that I'm entirely uncaring about other triathletes. I love to talk to them. Most are nice people. Some are a bit high strung, obsessive. Heh. But I like to stay up-to-date on the sport and the state of the art bikes even if I never plan to ride one. It's just that...I've gotten to a place where I'm comfortable. I don't need to prove or compare myself to anybody else. And I'm in the sport because it's a fun way to stay fit and have a goal. I like things simple (oxymoron in tri?). I've gone that way with marathons, too. Rather than do the big city, expensive, production-filled race with 45,000, I'd rather do the smaller, cheaper race with 10,000. Lines for portable toilets are overrated. 

Sometimes, it feels like that runs against the grain though. When I first got into the sport, I used to think triathletes were a little...rude? Annoying? Too type A? Especially with the rise of measurement...power meters, stroke rate obsession, cadence obsession, aerodynamic obsession. We measure and compare everything. Heart rate. FTP. Not that I'm ever without my sports watch while on a run...I'm trying to change that for easier runs at least. 

So, eventually, the talking about the sport is more boring than actually doing the sport. At least for me. It also doesn't help that I'm not currently training for anything so there's little to talk about. That will change come spring and summer. For now, I'm excited to have an actual race on my calendar since marathon registration opened for October. Something to look forward to. I'm looking forward to being out on my bike again and even getting in the water--even if an outdoor swim seems like a fantasy given the 10 inches of snow on the ground. 

In my head, I've been debating all this...thinking about not doing an actual triathlon this year and holding out until registering for Ironman, which is my real goal. Why do a 70.3 on the way if I don't feel like it? Of course I do feel like it, but have been asking myself if maybe I'd rather just bike and swim and begin heavy run training and call it a summer. I've written before how much I love to race. Maybe it's better phrased: which race is my A Race and how do I feel about my B Race? When does a B Race turn into a "just focus on your A race?" Does one have to race at all to be an athlete? I know there are lots of this type already lurking out there...the people who sometimes-train-but-maybe-not. I mostly race for the experience and because it makes sure I get time to do what I really like...which is run and bike. And swim? Ha. 

Don't get me wrong, I've joined a triathlon club. Which is ironic considering everything I'm saying. I'm still a solitary triathlon creature. I mostly joined the club to have someone to swim and bike with...I like a group ride or workout now and then. But I joined to socialize. Er...socialize is the wrong word. I want friends who are into the same things as me. If I do want to talk tires, there you go. "Oh man, I have a 60 mile ride schedule for this weekend, wanna give me some company?" 

Ultimately, sport...especially endurance sports...is about selfish motivations and personal triumph and pushing individual boundaries and independence. But it's also about camaraderie. As you start to watch the Olympics, the more fascinating story to me is less about the accomplishments in the heat of competition. And more about the hard work the athletes did to get there and the unifying force that is sport where we find common humanity in others. 

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