From time to time, those of us on the CGA Triathlon Team are still fortunate enough to hear from ENS Ian King, our former club president who graduated last May. After the standard, “hello” and “how are you?” and initial moments to catch up, what Ian always manages to mention is just how much he misses the team. He expresses to us just how different triathlon is outside the world of collegiate athletics and outside the Academy. Out in the “real world”, triathlon is very much an individual pursuit; you go to races, stay in your hotel, wake up on race morning, go through your personal routine, sometimes with a friend or family member along, but that’s the extent of it. The focus is on you, your abilities, and your race. Enjoy the team while you can, Ian tells us, because it’s a truly special dynamic that you won’t find anywhere else.
This outlook never really occurred to me. To me, triathlon has always been a sort of “group event.” When I ran my first tri at Lake Lanier, Georgia back in high school, we made a family occasion out of it – my mom ran the race as well, and my dad, aunt, uncle, and cousins all came up to get a cabin at the lake for the weekend. From that setting, I transferred straight to the CGA Tri Team that Ian so fondly describes. I’ve never been exposed to the world of triathlon as an “individual sport.” Yes, you’re given an individual time, but for me, this has always been a team sport just like any other. Tri season is over for the year, but looking back on our two biggest races this season, while my personal performances aren’t memorable, the team’s performance, and even its simple presence, at each event made those two weekends the best of my fall semester.
On September 8th and 9th the Tri Team was down in Washington, D.C. for the Nation’s Triathlon. It was our first major race of the season, and we had a lot of new athletes on the team, many who’d never run a tri in their life, much less than the full 32+ mile Olympic distance that Nation’s entailed. It was a fun weekend, but with the amount of travel and workload it required, it was a “trying” one (if you’ll pardon the pun). Nonetheless…we had 15 people racing. To put that in perspective, that’s more racers for this one event than we’ve had total active members on the team in some years past. It’s fantastic, seeing how this team’s grown.
And having a large team is a huge part of what makes triathlon fun. Yes, you run each race “alone” at your pace – but each race, each course, is its own small “adventure” that you undertake together. Between two stops in the transition area, out-and-backs on the bike, turnarounds on the run, you’re almost guaranteed to see your teammates at some point during the race. And when there are a full 15 of us proudly sporting USCGA jerseys out on the course, we see each other a lot – and every time brings a smile to my face. It’s really hard to care about how much your muscles are aching when you can look around and say, “Oh look, there’s Mary. YEAH, GO MARY!” It’s really hard to want to quit when you see your teammate running a little farther ahead of you than usual and you realize, “Wow, Kyle’s having a really good race. YEAH, GO KYLE!” There’s distance between each of us on the course…but our acute awareness of each other cuts that distance down to nothing. We’re all in it together.
This is Not an “Individual Sport” (Continued)
More about Jessie.