Being a woman who began running and triathlon a LONG time ago (1971 and 1982 respectively), the “talking about” ones accomplishments on social media is interesting to me. When I started running, I just did. I didn’t talk about it. There were no means to write about it, tweet about it, FB about it and post “selfies” and finish photos. Hell, up until the mid 80s there WERE NO SUCH THING as finish photos! Running as a conversational topic was almost taboo, as few women, at least in my small midwestern town, were. I felt too “different”. It was something guys did, right? I was almost embarrassed to admit my love for it, and then quickly came to the realization at a young age that I didn’t have to explain it. Especially to those who didn’t run. Why bother?
I rode my bike to school and work and took the teasing- “Why do you wear those shorts?” “Isn’t your car working?” “Isn’t that helmet hot?” I even ran to and from work a few times, keeping extra clothing in my classroom to change into, along with deodorant and a towel so I could at least wipe off under my armpits before teaching all day.
I took flack for being at conventions on weekends and choosing to swim in the hotel pool during lunch break (really, you SAT all morning in meetings, and you are going to SIT during lunch and then AGAIN for 3 hours after lunch? No thanks!) I came back to my meetings with wet hair, but awake and refreshed.
I was stared at while pushing a contraption made from PVC pipe, three tricycle wheels and an old car seat, while I ran over to the mall, walked the mall halls and then ran back home with my daughter and some new material to sew clothes for her.
I was yelled at by guys in triathlons and marathons (“damn women anyway”) as I passed them or stayed with them in races (this is true!) in the 80s. Are there guys “out there” still like this? Probably, but hopefully they are fewer and far between.
I still don’t feel the need to share everything about my training and racing. I am competing in my 122nd tri tomorrow. It’s gonna be tough as I have trained minimally because of a heavy work schedule. But I get to swim in a cold lake and am looking forward to that. I will probably put a couple of photos on FB but that will be about it. I won’t write a race report. There would be nothing to say really. After all it’s “just” a swim, a bike and a run. Something I have done every day for the past 40+ years. I love training. I love racing. I love writing about my experiences. But I also know where I stand in the scheme of things. I am NOT awesome because I compete in triathlons. It does NOT make me a better spouse, mom, co-worker, friend. I am NOT fast for my age group. I will probably never qualify for Kona unless I really retire and invest a lot of time and $ into getting there, and choosing my races very carefully. Is it that important? It’s always at the back of my mind, but really I can train for and “do” an Ironman distance any day I want. I would just have to plan it and choose my day and course. I used to ride 120 miles with a good friend “just because”. We were the only ones who knew about it and never told anyone else. Why would we? I am thinking about doing an IM by myself without fanfare. Without buildup. Without a coach. Without a play by play of my training and of course there will be no race report. Only I would know. Would you? Or do you need that audience?