We have a little race here in Key West that happens twice a year. It’s the FKCC Sprint Tri and it takes place every September and March. It’s (allegedly) a 600 yard swim (I got 440 on my watch this year), a 10 mile bike (8.6) and a 5k (close!). You get the point. But I LOVE this race. For many of us here on the Rock, this race was our introduction to Triathlon.
Though it was my first full Sprint 4 years ago, I had done it as a relay twice prior. And oh my god. Was I terrified. I still get nervous, but nothing like the first couple of times. I mean, race day is a bit like having the flu isn’t it? The night before the race is in bed early, tossing and turning, fitfully sleeping. Then up in the dark, fumbling your way to the bathroom feeling nauseated and sweating. You try to take in some food but really, solid food just makes you more nauseated. And you basically spend some hours living off of just electrolytes. You hope you’ll make it to the end but you’re afraid it won’t ever end. But, you finish! Sweaty, salty and happy to have survived! If you’re me, you probably had one last spectacular vom at some point during the run.
With a couple dozen Sprints under my belt, my pre race/race feeling is less horrific bout of flu and more like slight motion sickness (excited to be on the water! but a little nauseated). And though my nutrition is pretty on point, I occasionally have some GI issues (usually right in front of a friend. sorry Josh).
We just had the FKCC Sprint last weekend. It was super fun. I love racing with all my friends. It’s usually a pretty small field and I like it like that. It makes it way less intimidating for newbies. For the most part, everyone has a “let’s just go have fun attitude”. Sure, there’s some competition. But it’s mostly friendly and for pride. For awhile though, it wasn’t very fun. There are quite a few very talented triathletes on our island that would talk down about the race for a couple of years. They would , loudly, make sure everyone knew that it was “just” a training day for them. They’d want everyone to be aware that after the race, they were still going to go out and get their 50 mile bike in. They would definitely mock the “everyone gets a trophy” (even tho some don’t) aspect of this race. It was super disheartening for those of us who felt like this was an Ironman. We trained and pushed and this was (is) the extent of the distance we could do. It turned off newbie to the race, it caused a whole lot of discontent among the community. I have to say though, that in the past few months, that attitude has shifted. And I’m proud of our amazing Triathletes for that. It’s super important for all triathletes, no matter the skill level to go out and support the local race. Whether you race it with grace or you volunteer your time. These local races build our sport!!!
I no longer stand on the dock crying at the FKCC Sprint like I did that first time. But you better believe that I remember that feeling! Remember that the next time you do a “little local race”. Somebody next to you is probably a first timer and is fighting back the tears and nerves. All it takes is some encouragement and a smile and you can be the difference in the race for them! I can’t wait for the next FKCC Sprint!
(and I get down off my soapbox…)