Yesterday I volunteered at the Boulder 70.3. This is totally unremarkable, except for two things: 1. I had never worked at a triathlon prior to yesterday and 2. I was pressured into working the aid station by Coach Darren, as I was not feeling up to the task of attending a triathlon. I had serious trepidations about going to the race. I did not think I was emotionally ready to watch a triathlon.
My initial fears about my mental status were unfounded. I had fun handing out ice and water and hanging out with my running group. I actually felt somewhat like a hero, giving the athletes much needed relief from the heat of the day. Their downtrodden faces lit up when I yelled “Ice” and they eagerly came over to grab a cup, or have it dumped into a hat or shirt.
Working the aid station allowed me a whole new perspective on the racing scene.
- When I first started racing, there were very few options in attire. Mostly, people wore bathing suits. I remember one particular race in which the run went through a quiet neighborhood. I recall thinking to myself, “Wow, we really look ridiculous running down the street half naked in our bathing suits.” The men, especially, in the just their Speedos. Nowadays, the clothing options are plentiful and that was abundantly clear yesterday. Most athletes were wearing colorful tri tops with tri shorts, many sporting their club logos. Lots of people wore arm coolers. Except for two women who were kickin’ it old school and wore a standard bathing suit.
- People were so incredibly polite. I heard “thank you” and “thanks for being here” more times than I can count. The athletes were orderly at the aid station when they came through in groups. I did not see a single discourteous person the entire time I was there.
- Triathlon truly has a “finish or die” attitude. I arrived at the aid station around 11 am. The athletes coming through were mostly walking and they were on their first loop. They still had 7 miles to go! The people who gutted out the heat or lack of fitness or poor nutrition, I say kudos. To the individual who walked the entire run with a boot on her foot, I ask, “why?” As someone pointed out at the aid station, it’s not like this race comes around every four years!
- Speaking of nutrition, it is very clear that most people do not take enough salt. I saw hundreds of uniforms mottled with salt stains. People were gray in the face, cramping, hunched over, and looking pretty bad.
- We went through a tremendous number of cups, bags of ice, bottles of water, Gatorade and cola, bananas, gels, bars and pretzels. One racer even asked for a piece of pizza that was provided for the volunteers. Of course, we obliged him. Triathlons truly are a moving feast.
|Who doesn’t love pizza and Gatorade 12 miles into a 70.3?
On another note, I rode a friend’s mountain bike to race. It was my first time on a bike in 6 months. On the way down, I thought to myself, “This isn’t too bad. Maybe I will start riding again.” On the way back, I thought to myself, “This really sucks. I can already feel my ribs and I am getting very uncomfortable.” So, it looks like my hiatus from riding will extend even further.
Congrats to everyone who raced yesterday.