Do you? Would you?

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?

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5 thoughts on “Do you? Would you?

  1. Really interesting food for thought. Hearing my name at the finish or seeing my family at the finish is definitely reason enough for me. If the WWW went down tomorrow, I’d keep racing. I think that in the age of information, a lot of us wouldn’t be brave enough to give it a tri (haha….) without countless race reports and inspirational stories to read up on. I journal my journey because I think it’s hilarious to look back and read about how nervous I was about my first 4-mile run. I don’t think I would remember how anxious I was without an account of it. Anywho, thanks for the perspective and please keep writing!

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    • Thanks Sheri….it’s definitely a generational thing. I have a difficult time writing about myself/accomplishments and putting them out there for all to see as I do them just for me and really never had that need to tell anyone. I only started the blog because I was on a team last year and it was recommended we do this. Hardly anyone read it-so I don’t post very much. I mostly Facebook/twitter now…

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  2. You ask interesting questions, and make some points that have largely been forgotten in a time when information is so accessible….thanks for the thought-provoking post!

    Personally, I really appreciate the inspirational stories I’ve read – and I look forward to following the adventures of other racers (especially other strong women). As Sheri mentioned above, I do hope that you keep writing – I really appreciate what you have to say.

    I started a blog, less about sharing my story publicly (I’ve only recently changed the settings from “private” to “public” and for a specific purpose) and more about wanting to capture snapshots (and words) about my experiences. I remember reading something that my mom had written a long while back, and it meant something to me to have her words, about her experiences, and being able to know her just a little differently for it. I like having that record of me – in my own words. I don’t share it on facebook or tell my friends I’m keeping a blog – I’m still pretty private when it comes down to it.

    Would I consider doing a race without support?…yes and no. I’ve participated in events where my family was there, and it was good to see them. I have also participated in events without them and been all by my lonesome (including travel) and that is great as well – in different ways. Without them there it is more about me facing myself than anything else. But – I got into this crazy tri business in the safety of a group – with other new moms and people who never thought they could do it. I don’t know if I’d have had the courage to go for it without them. So – yes and no.

    All that said – I don’t think I could train for a big event – or do one – on my own.

    In some ways I think it would be easier to do without involving my family…however I also have to recognize the part that my husband and kids play in my ability to do what I am currently able to do. Even though the journey is for me – every step of it affects them (and would whether I included them in it or not – as it involves time and energy spent elsewhere). What I visualize on those tough treadmill runs in the basement at 5am isn’t hearing “you are an ironman” (though hey, lets not kid myself, they would be freakin’ fantastic words to hear); it’s seeing my two little girls at the finish line and knowing that they will remember that piece of their mom that gets me through the tough spots.

    🙂 Emily

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    • Thanks for feedback….I appreciate it.
      And those words “…..you are an Ironman”…well I crossed the line once in 1996 before he started saying that, and spent the next two hours looking for my wayward ex-husband who happened to spend most of my IM race in a stripper bar, so no good memories there. The second one in 2009 had the announcement attached but I didn’t race like I thought I was going to, so it was kind of a let down for me. I felt more accomplished climbing out of the Grand Canyon with only two friends waiting for me at the top or my daughter saying “thank you” for putting her through college…it’s all in what one has experienced I guess. Gotta find some time to write soon! Happy Thanksgiving!

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  3. I’m not scolding anyone…I encourage those who are going for whatever they want to do. I have been nothing but supportive in my comments on your blog…as far as I know. I am just telling stories too. I don’t consider any of my races accomplishments though. That’s where we differ.

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