|Meditations on my upcoming triathlon
||[Jun. 11th, 2013|11:53 am]
I am now fully equipped for the triathlon, having received my wetsuit in the mail. And having tried it on to make sure I could actually get into it. With black boots and a mask, I could be a chubby superhero:
Yesterday, as I was biking in the pouring rain, I contemplated the fact that there is a substantial non-zero chance that I will be in last place at this triathlon. This is not some kind of ploy to have people cheer me on or anything, it's just a reality: I am fat, I am old, I am slow. I do not mind being last, but I mind the reason why I will probably be last.
And it has nothing to do with my own fat/old/slowness. It has to do with the fact that most people who are in the shape I'm in, or even slightly better, wouldn't even consider entering a triathlon. Not because, "ugh, I'd never want to do that" -- which is a perfectly legitimate way to feel, as no one is required to participate in athletic events that don't appeal to them. No, it's because there are many people in this shape or slightly better who are thinking, "wow, I could never do that."
And that's sad to me. It's sad that people don't feel like they should participate in such events unless they are going to be good at them, and they will never get good at them because they won't participate.
I have seen this at pretty much every 5k I've attended, particularly the ones that are labelled "5k run/2-mile walk." I realize that the race coordinators are trying to make the event appeal to a wider audience, but there seems to be an implication that if you can't run for 5k, then you'd better settle for the walk. At every one of these events, I start out in the middle of a good-sized crowd of walkers and slow joggers. Then we get to the turn-around spot and suddenly I'm at the back with only a handful of people. After a while, that handful diminishes further as people who can't jog the whole way drop out. Some of them, no doubt, have a physical reason why they can't continue. But others would rather slink away and remain anonymous than finish and see a time that embarrasses them.
I say nuts to that. If it takes you 50 minutes, or 75 minutes to finish a 5k, you are still lapping the guy on the couch. If it takes me 4 hours to complete this sprint-length triathlon, I will still be able to say that I did it. And I will have fun, because I don't have to be young and thin and fast to enjoy my body moving and taking on a challenge. And that is awesome.