If All My Friends Jumped Off of a Bridge ~ Want Some? Get Some!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

If All My Friends Jumped Off of a Bridge

So, there!  I did it.  I signed up for my first triathlon.  Yeah, I know.  One of those. 

An integral part of Triathlon training
Many men in middle age buy a sports car or take some other pleasurable extreme.  I did most of my pleasure seeking in my twenties, so now I'm signing up for suffer fests.  In a couple of weeks I'll be running Rock Creek's Chattanooga Stage Race, a 3 day stage race covering 60 miles, and in September I'll be doing the Rev 3 Cedar Point Triathlon

140.6 miles of super extra flat land in Ohio.  The largest elevation gain I'm likely to encounter is if there are waves kicking up in Lake Erie that day. 

Doing something this long requires a solid "Why?"

The Start:  "Why am I doing this?"
4 hours in :  "Why am I STILL doing this?"
5 hours in:  "Why am I STILL doing this?"
6 hours in :  "Why am I STILL doing this?"
et cetera...

First, let me tell you why I've never done one before.

Rollin' it out, trail runner style.

I know that I am a trail runner.  How do I know?  One way is that I instinctively make fun of triathletes.  I mean, those clothes, their fuel belts, their Oakleys?  Another giveaway that I am an animal of the trail is that I enjoy a race as a mostly social gathering.  I'm not really dawdling, but I would not call what I'm doing "racing."

Triathlon training, on the other hand, is all about shaving minutes, seconds, and legs.(and arms?)  Now, get this, I'm reading beginner training books and, to be fair, they usually have a sentence about how your goal for your first triathlon should just be to finish.  Then, they spend a couple hundred pages talking about gear that will save you ounces or a minute of time and techniques so that when you're racing, you can climb higher up into your age group. 

I mean, some people are training balls out so they can place a little bit higher in their age group.  No prize, no recognition, and some are sacrificing their adrenal glands, sleep, social life, and family.  Don't get me wrong. Many know how to balance and have a healthy perspective, but normal people usually just blend into normalcy such that I don't notice them.

There's nothing wrong with trying to get a better time or being a better racer or moving one place in your age group in a race versus last year, but I can't justify some of the seemingly unnecessary intensity that some think it requires. 

I could continue and go further down the hater rant hole, but let's refocus and look at why I DID decide to sign up and do my first triathlon.  The reason: Meg Wempe. 

Meg is a triathlete. She's also an Ironman.  Meg also likes the trails.  Though we've known each other since high school, it was only about 3 years ago that we started running together on the trails of upstate South Carolina.  We've even done a few trail races together.  One day in a bout of smack talking, Meg says "You may be able to beat me in a running race, J Scott, but you couldn't beat me in a triathlon!" 

There it is.  It was that easy.  All someone had to do to get me to train for 3 months and then drag my body across 140.6 miles of Sandusky, Ohio was talk the tiniest bit of trash. 

That sort of motivation only lasts a little while, so I had to search for a more meaningful, long-lasting "why."

Enter the non-profit Team Red, White, and Blue. 
They help returning vets by organizing social and athletic events to reintegrate them back into the society that they belong.  Many of our modern vets return with physical, mental, and moral injuries and find themselves severely disjointed from their community, friends, and even family.  PTSD, survivor's remorse, and a host of other obstacles often drive folks to drug and alcohol abuse, seclusion, and suicide. 

Meg and I are a couple of these
Team RWB gives folks a social and physical outlet to reconnect, belong, and function actively. 

I believe in what they do and how they do it, so that is
my "why." 
Meg and I have a team called "Team Outsiders."  We love to be and recreate outside.  Also, when we were in high school, Meg and I were voted "Most Unique"  for our senior class superlatives, so the name is very appropriate. 

Team Outsiders has a donation page to raise money for Team RWB, please take time and give as little or as much as you want to help our returning vets that are having to overcome so much.

When I am training and I hit a tough spot, I think of many of the testimonies of the soldiers who have returned and are in so much physical and emotional pain. I also think about how there are so many in their position who would trade me, pain for pain, to be in the position that I am.  Team RWB gives them the chance to exchange some of their war-related hollow pain for athletic related enjoyable pain. 

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