Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Slowest Triathlete That Day

I watched as she reached deep inside to summon one last bit of energy as she drove her body across the finish line. Her face was red, her breath coming in gasps, each running step seemed painful, but she crossed the line that hot August day. She was not the first across the finish line that day, in fact the first across that line had been finished for nearly an hour and a half. The first place winner did the entire sprint triathlon in less time than it took her to do the bike leg. He was joined by his kids as he breezed across the finish line, they each took one of his hands and he jogged to the finish with them. She was joined by her grandkids as she struggled to get to the end of the event.

She, the last place finisher (though first in her age group) impressed me much more that day than that first place guy did. He competes as a pro and this year took 2nd in the ITU Cross World Championships and 3rd in the Xterra USA Series. She finished a sprint triathlon, something she had never done before.

He went into that day knowing he would finish, and odds are he knew he was going to take first place.
She went in not knowing if she could complete the course.

He jogged easily across the finish line.
She needed every ounce of energy she had left to get there.

What he has accomplished as an athlete is amazing and inspirational.
What she accomplished that day inspires me more though.

It is astounding to me that some people have the talent, the drive, and the athletic background that lead them to just leave me in the dust on a race like that. I am impressed and inspired by those people. The people that really blow my mind, however, are the ones who at age sixty decided to tear themselves free of the sedentary lifestyle they had been leading, the ones who decided that they would overcome their obesity, to get rid of the cigarettes, to throw out the junk food and change the way they were living their lives.

I've met quite a few like her now. At the same event I was talking to a man who had started training for a triathlon after his doctor told him to change his lifestyle unless he wanted to die in the next six months. Now he competes in triathlons regularly. My brother lost 130 pounds and now bikes everywhere and has completely overhauled his diet. These are the ones that make me proud, these are the ones that inspire me.

This is the reason I want to be a personal trainer. As much as I would enjoy training an athlete to higher levels of achievement, what I really want is to take those who don't think they can do it and show them they can. I want to take people who cannot walk a mile and teach them that they can run a 5K. I want to inspire them, and be inspired by them.

So now, I'm going to get back to studying the muscles that act on the shoulder.