On Sunday I had the honor of going to support my daughter, Maddy, doing her first triathlon. (A combination of swimming, biking and running) It was a sprint distance , women only triathlon, sponsored by Irongirl at Sandy Hook. Maddy is a veteran supporter of triathlon, having cheered her father over nearly 36 finish lines during his endeavors as a triathlete over the years. Over the Summer she decided the time had come for her to switch sides and so she trained from a fitness level of sub zero (!) to race ready in just 5 weeks. It was time for her to see the sport of triathlon from a different perspective – and by the same token, time for father to switch sides too!
I love the sport of spectating. Having participated in a few triathlons myself over the years, I am lucky that I feel no compunction whatsoever to do another one. Ever. So I’m never resentful of being the one on the sidelines. I am actually extremely grateful, often, that it’s not me that has to head into the chilly ocean at 5am in the morning! I love watching the participants gear themselves up for their big day, I love making signs with the kids to cheer their Dad on, working out the best spectating spots for the event, how to get from the swim finish to the “bike out” in the quickest time possible, positioning someone at the “bike in” and the “run out” to make sure all bases are covered to ensure maximum cheerage! It’s quite an art!
Maddy was of course super excited for her race. She trained really hard, and was ready to give it her best shot. We all woke at 4am and were in the car by 4.30am. Archie was thrilled. (Not!)
So I have set the scene I think, that I’ve been to a lot of triathlon events over the years and that I was pretty sure of what to expect on Sunday morning at the Jersey Shore. Usually when you turn up to transition, (the place where racers move from one activity to the next) athletes are very stressed out. Dare I say grumpy sometimes. They are extremely focused on getting to their place, getting their gear set up exactly right, making sure their gismos and gadgets are all working correctly and really focusing on their own performance in the hours that lie ahead. There is a palpable tension in the air which is exciting to be part of but it’s not a group thing, it’s a “lots of individuals” kind of thing. There’s not much laughing, everyone is serious and focused. (Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for these athletes and I am merely observing the behaviors I usually see on race morning and comparing them to those I saw on Sunday)
Sunday morning presented an entirely different picture which was amazing and overwhelming to me. Instead of a palpable tension in the air there was an incredible feeling of camaraderie. Women from age 14 through 79 were gathering in the dark and immediately there was a sense of community among them. Athletes were laughing, hugging, kissing and helping each other. Getting organized in the transition area before the race was an opportunity to greet fellow trainees and offer words of encouragement and support, not eye up the competition. My husband remarked on how much fun they seemed to be having and was surprised at the feelings of genuine warmth that surrounded everyone.
As the race began, supporters really became spectators watching a big community of women, drawn together by a common goal of achieving their dream of doing a triathlon. Whether they wanted to just finish the race to prove they could, whether they wanted to beat their personal best, set a new course record, or simply to achieve a goal set at a time when a goal was the only positive inspiration they had to keep them going. Perhaps at a time when life was so tough they needed something to help them get out of bed every day. Whatever the reason, these women bonded together on the course, helped each other along, supported each other through the swim, stopped to help those with difficulties on the bike, ran to the finish line hand in hand, lines of women, hands held high, triumphant in their success, and their celebration. Together all the way!
That was the inspiration for me on Sunday. Yes, all these woman swam, biked and ran, some fast, some slow. But more importantly they did it together in a way that I have never witnessed at a sporting event. They were all thrilled for each other and wanted to celebrate each other.
Today I was so proud of my daughter, and so proud to be a woman!
In honor of these amazing athletes the juice of the week is Irongirl Juice, with the key ingredient of spinach of course for that iron content. But you will also find a good dose of courage, hope, love and laughter in there too, which altogether make it a juice well worth trying!
1 handful spinach
Push the spinach into the juicer chute before turning the juicer on, pack it down hard and put an apple on top. Turn on the juicer and push the apple through slowly. Then follow with the other ingredients.
Enjoy over ice.