Motivation comes in many packages . . .
It was a long drive to Sugarland Texas. It wasn’t as long as I had expected, but it was still long enough to make my legs ache a little. I have got to learn to stop and stretch during my long drives and not drive straight through.
I met my Cousin, Michael at his place in Houston on Saturday. Michael had just flown in from France and had literally not slept in 24 hours. He sat next to a child that didn’t allow him to close his eyes at all. This would be his first triathlon and what better way to introduce yourself to the sport than with no sleep!
We went to the packet pick up in Sugarland. We parked and as we were walking up to the place we were met by Mr. Outside Voice. A gentleman, maybe five foot 6 inches with grey hair cut in a crew cut style, welcomed us LOUDLY. I first thought he was speaking so loudly because we were outside, but then we went inside . . . hence why I named him Mr. Outside Voice. He was very motivated to be there and do his job, which he did very well. He was very nice and helpful and you never had to ask him to repeat himself.
After picking up our packets and buying a pair of tri shorts for Michael, we decided to drive the bike course. NICE. Very flat, smooth roads, shaded roads for the most part. I don’t think I could have asked for much better.
I was concerned about this race since the only other race I had done in the great state of Texas, I DNF’d (Did Not Finish). However, after driving the bike course and the run course I felt much better about this Texas race.
We arrived early as I like to for the race. Michael was not sure why we would get up at 3:30 in the morning for a race that didn’t begin until 7:30 AM. It was a 40 minute drive to the site from his house and I just like to get there first to set up and breathe a little of the stress out.
It was already hot at 5:45 AM. I began to panic a bit. I was sweating like I did at the race I DNF’d. I was feeling jittery which wasn’t helping matters either. I set up my transition, looked around for Michael and relaxed as best as I could. I checked out Michael’s Transition and he was ready.
Motivation comes in many packages. As I was setting up there was a woman who was doing her first triathlon. She had no idea what she was doing. She didn’t know how to rack her bike or anything. I was happy to help her. It was motivation to me to be able to do that, since I felt experienced. At this point I haven’t checked her number to see how she did, I hope she did great.
As the race came to start we lined up along the pool in order of our race number. I was in the middle. I really need to work on my swimming. I am decent but, not good. There was a really cool woman about two or three numbers behind me. I knew I was going to be trampled by her in the swim, she looked like a monster in the pool and I was scared. She had a silver one piece tri suit with pigtails. About lap one and a half she woooooshed by me like silver streak. I was humbled. About three other passed me but, they were fast, very fast.
The comical part of the race was the exit from the pool. If only I could have been a spectator instead of a participant. I was about to jump up and swing my leg over and roll out of the pool when a nice gentleman offered me his hand and assistance getting out of the pool. I though for a second . . . Does this guy know how big I am? However, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and grabbed hold tightly. Another man noticed my girth and ran over I latched on to his hand as well. Now it becomes interesting. There are two rather strong men utilizing every muscle in their body to pull this 376 pound man out of the water. Both of my feet a secured on the side of the pool and by this time the blood vessels in the men’s heads are showing and the redness in their faces becomes alarming to me. I think at one point they were close to giving up but then they realized that my grip was strong and my will was great and if they gave up, a swim was in their future. So they bucked up and gave a last groan and up I went!
Transition was slow, but deliberate.
There is not much to say about the bike. It was flat, I was happy.
Transition was fastest I think of any so far.
Oh the run. I mean the walk run, walk run, walk run. Those Texans, they sure know how to get a guy moving. I was wearing a new shirt since the dark navy blue one that I have been wearing soaks up every ounce of sun. So I have on an LSU shirt (Go Tigers) and LSU became my name during the run. I loved it.
“Come on LSU, let’s go!”, was the most commonly utilized motivational cadence I heard. I also heard plenty of “GO TIGERS!” So it seemed there were a few LSU fans in attendance.
One of the volunteers ran up next to me and told me very sincerely, “Man, you are my hero, I mean it, you are awesome.”
Now let me ask you, how could you give up after hearing that. I had a really bad pain in my foot, right in the front padding. It felt like it was actually tearing. I was in pain. It seems that is the case in each race, but the pain just seems to rotate around my body!
I was about 1 ½ miles into the run and I was closing into what I thought was the last leg of the race. You see Michael and I drove what we thought was the run course . . . NOT! As I turn a corner thinking I go right and then into the last nice shaded finish a volunteer directs me to the left.
THE LEFT?!!!! LEFT???!!!! What? I was struggling quite badly with the foot, but I turned left and gimped on. The volunteer that told me to go left hollered out to me. “Only 2 miles left, you’re doing great!”
2 MILES!!! What!?? I thought I was in the last mile easy, but that turned out not to be the case. And again, on I gimped.
Motivation comes in many packages.
Before I go into the most motivational piece of the race I want to share what I have shared in many of my writings. The Triathlete community is awesome. I have never met a group of individuals so supportive and motivating than in this group of multi-sporters. I don’t think I have met a kinder, nicer group of people. They make call you out when you’re slumping, but they will be there to help you get going again. I never want to deter anyone considering beginning the life of triathlons. It is a wonderful sport with unbelievable people in it.
On to the ultimate motivation of my day.
As I was entering the last left of the run about 500 yards to the finish I couldn’t feel my foot. That was a good thing. I was running so slow I was actually losing time! Many people were cheering me on and I was loving it.
It was so hot.
As I was about 25 yards from the finish this guy says to me, “Come on tiny!” Now, first off the tiny thing kinds stung. Anyone that knows me can clarify to you, I am anything but, tiny
I took it in stride and continued to struggle on when I heard the same guy as I had just passed him say to whom every he was with, “If that fat M*ther F*cker can do one of these things, I sure can.”
I was so angry!
I wanted to turn around and spit on him!
Instead I began to run faster and because of that I beat the time I wanted to finish in by over 2 minutes! I thought about going back and saying something to him. I thought about going back and knocking the . . . But, I didn’t.
I told myself that next year I was going to come and do this race and wear the same LSU shirt and hope that guy was there and he could see me 50 to 75 pounds lighter and I would get mine. Even though he would still probably say things that aren’t so kind.
I am not putting this in here for sympathy or to get people fired up at an unknown rude individual.
This is for my friends that are trying to better themselves and become healthy. I am a very fat man. I get looks left and right, up and down at races. I get comments of all sorts. If looks could speak I would be interested to hear them. It happens. But racers who may look at you out of the corner of their eye and question why you are here to race, those are the first ones to congratulate you and show excitement for you when you have finished.
You will get weird looks. You will hear comments. You may even have some rude jerk who comes right out and shows his ignorance as I did in this race, but the one thing you must remember is this.
You are tri-ing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The next thing you must remember is that those who are racing next to you respect you and are rooting for you and their respect is the respect that truly means something, not some loser standing on the sidelines.
It is so awesome these days when I am setting up my transition area and a fellow racer asks me if this is my first triathlon. I love to gently smile and tell them, “no, this will be my 6th.”
YOU CAN DO IT. I am with you. Struggling, sweating, hurting, and laughing! Let’s get healthy.
Until next time . . .