Another year of training, getting ready for another shot at qualifying for that good ‘ol elite license.

The actual race review for me is pretty short. I had a nice triple PR on day 1, about 30 seconds faster in each discipline over last year. However, the whole field got faster so I literally ended up placing the same as I did day 1 last year. No closer to qualifying than I was a year ago.

A highlight of the weekend was that my dumb face rubbing my pec out got into the highlight reel on the race video this year. Woo. Note to self: try to be more conscious of video camera drones and people hanging around.

Clermont Draft Legal 2016 from Vantage Point Aerials on Vimeo

On the macro level of things, the results are great for the sport. We need more competitive men if we’re going to get on the podium. It simply isn’t great for me on a micro level with draft-legal aspirations. It essentially seals my fate as a 70.3+ athlete (which I was fighting against because I love the draft-legal format) for the future. First one up will be 70.3 Eagleman in June. Updates later on how that goes.

There’s always something to be said in regards to the race, the in workings of my mind as the race unfolds, mental prep going into it, the training it took to get there, the effort put forth to the finish line and a new PR, mistakes made, positive steps taken, etc. But this year really has cemented a different impression on me. Something I think that will be more lasting than whether I was 29th or 75th.

People.

We meet so many people in our lives. Surrounded by hoards of others like us, yet so dissimilar that often we find it hard to reach out and say hello.

Somehow though, on race day, no matter the age, gender, experience level… you can always seem to find a friend. Despite the supercharged competitive atmosphere, the triathlon community as a whole and especially at races like Clermont where hopes and dreams are on the line, seems to be a microcosm of the best of human nature. Hospitality, kindness, courtesy, generosity: all seem to be in abundance.

Maybe it’s in part to do with the suspension of reality that occurs at a race. Where the worries of every day life cease and all that matters is relaxing and getting ready to race. Your entire being, distilled down to a singular purpose. Devoid of the stress of bills, jobs, or headaches outside of your nutritional strategy to race.

No where else is it better distilled than a snippet of conversation I had with a new friend before I was to return home. “Headed back to reality in T-minus 5 hours.” I told her. To which she replied “Don’t do it. Reality sucks. It hit me like a bus this week.”

Of course I’m sure there’s a large sense of hyperbole in her response, but is there any sense of reality for which we all yearn? To live in a place where we can meet and connect with new people. People we understand, get along with and relate to coming together in a community that lives outside of our digital-Facebook-social-media laden lives.

There’s a part of me, the part that drives me forward to goals that seem “impossible” to the “masses.” (Allow my blanket statements for now please). This part believes that hard work and determination make anything capable. Connecting with people across distances farther than most people go for vacation. I seem to have found a knack for picking up friends across a continent and even across country borders. Maintaining such relationships is anything but the “norm.”

These people you meet, at races, or on vacation as well in my case, that you seem to be drawn to or connect with, have this suspended state of friendship/relationship progression. Where you make such fast friends with them that you’re closer than you are with many people in your city yet are hours long flights away and you end up in situations you’d never dreamed. Staying with their family in a vacation home, hosting them as they fly in from another country just to see you for a week, late night skype calls across borders and time zones, plotting joint vacations or races to be able to hang out or simply sending a text or e-mail to try and stay connected.

People.

The story of our lives I believe is told in large part about the people we want to associate with and those that want to associate with us.

Maybe it’s simply a shadow of childish thinking to believe in connecting with people beyond regular boundaries. Maybe one day it will hit me more plainly. For now however, I still believe in figuring out what it is that you want and doing it, rather than focusing on what “can’t” be done and surrendering to  conventional wisdom.

I’ll stick with Dan Pena. “Conventional wisdom is almost always wrong.”

 

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