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Member Corner
#YouAreTriathlete
By Mary Gandee


She wakes at 4 a.m. so she can get in her training before going off to work a 12-hour day as an elementary teacher. He rides his bike on the stationary trainer after missing his workout. He missed that workout because he was giving CPR to a heart attack patient.


She drove her kids to school and then rode her bike for 4 hours.


She runs to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence.


He runs to outrun the storms of life.


She swims, bikes and runs because she feels the greatest joy when wind and water are on her face. She is stride for stride with her friends and she is happy.


He runs as his young son rides his bike. Side by side the walls are down. They talk, man to man.


She is 5 years old and just realized she can swim, bike and run ... all on her own ... just like mommy. They are friends, swimming through the murky waters of lakes and life.


I once had a doctor tell me my heart rate was too low. The doctor would expect that from a marathon runner. I sat up a little taller, smiled proudly and said, “I am a marathon runner.” My smile faded as she said in a condescending tone, “Well, a real marathon runner.”


An athlete I coach just posted that someone said she wasn’t really a triathlete, she was just obsessed with it. The protective mom/coach in me really wanted to find that person and have a little chat ... on “triathlete time” at 4 a.m. I stared blankly at the screen wondering what I could possibly add to the building comment line. It had to be supportive, encouraging and it had to let her know how much I care. Then I saw what her sweet husband wrote, #IgnoreThe-Noise. It was perfect and we humans are not. We say some really hurtful things, do some hurtful things and make some noise that simply doesn’t need to be heard. My comment went something like “what husband said.”


IT’S YOUR TURN


Share your multi-sport experiences with fellow members. Submit a photo, drawing, poem, personal essay, social media post, etc., for publication in USA Triathlon Magazine and you could be featured on this page in an upcoming issue. Send submissions to communications@usatriathlon.org with “Member Corner” in the subject line.


Then I started thinking about the ATHLETES I have coached over the past six years. They have ranged in age, speed and skill, but they have not ranged in heart. It doesn’t mean they all want to stand atop the podium. It means they all love being triathletes. Some love the training, some the racing, some both. Some are in it to be with people and some to be alone. They tri because they want to do something they’ve never done before or because they never want to stop. They tri for someone who they have lost or for something they want to find in themselves. As they tri, they learn they are not only athletes, they are so much more. They can do so much more, love so much more, help so much more. They learn they can cross finish lines they once thought were just dreams. They get knocked down, fall down, injured, choke, DNF, get flats, get lost, but they never fail. Because they started. They are triathletes.


Dear doctor who told me I wasn’t a marathoner. Dear person who made that hurtful comment and people who will make them in the future. I forgive you. My wish for you is that you one day can toe the lines of early mornings, sleepless nights, full-time jobs, families, friends and community in this unique and awesome sport. I hope that you can one day understand what it is to call yourself a TRIATHLETE! To every triathlete out there, look around.


You are all triathletes. I don’t care how fast you go, how pretty it looks, how expensive your bike is or that you have clipless shoes or the latest aero helmet. I don’t care how long your race is or how much you train. I care that you find joy in the journey. Someone once told me DNF doesn’t mean Did Not Finish, it means Did Not Fail. Now finish off that pot of coffee, load up your sports bottles and pack your bento boxes with bars and electrolytes. Lace up your shoes and clip in. This is an amazing ride! As the water rushes past your ears, the wind whistles through your helmet and your footfall strikes the ground, only listen to that noise.


As that dear husband said, #IgnoreTheNoise #YouAreTriathlete.


78 USA TRIATHLON SPRING 2015

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