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The “I” in Triathlon

In today’s world, social media has been infused into everything we see and know. Most of us have at least a Facebook account, belong to numerous groups, have more than one page, “like” just about any comment or picture we are mildly interested in, and have multiple “friends” that we do not know yet share common interests with. I, personally belong to at least 4 or 5 triathlon interest groups. Being a so-called “member” of these groups, reading what others post, and following their stories has lead me to one very important conclusion: For such a small group of people, triathletes are a strange cast of characters. With that common thread in mind, I have recently nailed down a few of the habits that all triathletes share. ​ ​We love to talk about ourselves. I see this in myself all the time; I mean I write a blog about mainly…me. Outsiders do not understand. At first glance, it may seem like we are only into ourselves, rattling things off like our athletic accomplishments, how many miles we ran over the weekend, our PR at any given race, our “A” race next season, or the new bike equipment that we just purchased. But in actuality—wait, who am I kidding? What else is there to talk about really? I guess when we are talking to each other we get the narcissism that accompanies just about every triathlete I know.​We love to exceed. We aim to surpass the goals that we have set for ourselves (and then of course talk about it). We obsess over seconds–to beat our PR by just one second is a major accomplishment in my book. We look at last year’s race times, over-analyzing every split, figuring out a way to shave seconds or even minutes off the swim, bike, run or either transition. We compare races, trying to comprehend why in one swim we were 2 seconds slower/100 yards when we felt perfectly awesome on race day. To outdo oneself, after all, is the greatest victory. ​We memorize every turn on a course. I never thought I was guilty of that…but it turns out I am just as guilty as the next triathlete. In speaking with a few others recently, I found myself talking about the turn-by-turn specifics of Syracuse Ironman™ 70.3. I knew exactly when and where she was talking about. We find comfort in speaking with athletes that know “the hill at mile 9” or “the turn by the church before you go up the hill.” ​As I observed people around the room at my local tri club’s annual dinner, this was never more clear. The obsession with triathlon was in the air, and all of the triathletes had a few things on their mind: themselves, their goals and their accomplishments. I even saw at least one person flash their Ironman™ tattoo (and it was not me…come on, mine is in plain sight). Sometimes I sit at my desk at work pondering the question: “How can a group of people be so self-involved?” But then the picture of me accepting my 1st place award at the podium catches my eye, and I think: “Hmmm. I bet if I got one of those cool Speedfil hydration systems, I could shave 5 minutes off my bike split.” And I am immediately on-line searching for next-year’s destination race. ​ ​

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