Admittedly, and on purpose, I took the title of this Blog from the Runwell "Perspire 2 Inspire" campaign that they are doing because it just makes so much sense on so many levels. In this blog, I want to recap my Labor Day weekend trip to Ironkids National Championships and the 5150 Championships.
I was honored to have 42 of my Kids and Teens that TRI team members and their families travel to Des Moines, Iowa for Ironkids Nationals. All had to qualify for the race and while each young athlete had their individual goals, my intent for them is always to be safe, have fun, exhibit good sportsmanship and inspire others to be more active through the sport of triathlon. All finished the race and while some had great performances, others did not. That is where the Perspire 2 Inspire comes into play. I addressed many of my young team members after the race and of course congratulated them for putting out their best effort but as always, I used that opportunity as a teachable moment.
By now, my Kids and Teens that TRI get it. They know that Coach Bob will have words of wisdom for them but that they must also apply my words to real life. To those who did not achieve their performance related goals, I reminded them that the act of preparation and all of the training, dedication, motivation and life balance was one of the biggest successes of the day. A race is just a race and not something that defines you as a person. Rather, it is how you approach every day leading up to the race in your preparation that matters. Are you taking care of yourself? Getting enough sleep? Practicing good nutrition? Balancing school and family and friends with training? Are you doing the proper things to recover your body? It is these things that I remind them that are of greater importance than a placing in one race. Doing the right thing on a daily basis teaches character. Even more important though is how you react to a race that may not go the way you wanted it to. It is okay to be upset but it is not okay to lose focus of why you are doing this or exhibit poor sportsmanship because things didn't go your way. Be proud of your effort. Be proud of who you are as a person.
It was during these teachable moments where I reminded them what Perspire 2 Inspire really means. The day was much more than just a performance. It was shaping their lifestyle and not only theirs but also their parents, siblings and friends and for that, they should hold their chins up high and be proud.
I was conveniently reminded of this during my race the very next day. I was honored to have qualified in the amateur elite category for the 5150 championships and approached it as a challenge. Sure, I was the oldest out of 35 guys in the category but I never let chronological age stand in my way of achieving something great. For me, having qualified as a 42 year old amateur elite was no easy task but even more important was the message that I wanted to send to my Kids and Teens that TRI team and my family. I never make any excuses going into a race. If something hurts, I deal with it. If I am sick, I deal with it. If I am tired, I race the best I can on that day and that is what I want my team to remember. It is all about a positive mental attitude and giving your very best from start to finish.
Interestingly, I had a horrible swim that day, had no legs on the bike at all but I had very good transitions and a fast run. I knew my swim would be slow when I took my first few strokes but I persevered and did my best to get out of the water as fast as I could. After hopping on my bike and testing out my legs, I knew it would not be a PR bike and I was okay with that. It is how you react to the cards that you are dealt with that truly defines character. At that point, I did not succumb to failure or simply just finishing the race. I was still racing despite knowing it was not my best day. But I thought back about all of the fun that I had preparing for this race and I had friends and my son cheering for me along the way. It really doesn't get any better than that.
Upon crossing the finish line, I was excited to see my friends and my son but truly embraced the next thing that happened. After I crossed, I saw Hunter Kemper standing near the finish and I went up to him and congratulated him on his 2nd place finish. I have worked with Hunter for many years on his nutrition so we know each other and to say that he is a class act person and athlete is an understatement. He was one of the very few pro's that I saw who was still hanging around the finish chute after his race to talk to age-groupers. He then came over to my friends and shared good conversation and took some photos with the kids. Hunter is, and has always been, one of my most favorite professional triathletes because of what he does off the field of competition.
Perspire 2 Inspire. Enjoy the journey in preparing to achieve your goals but more importantly, to inspire others to do the same thing. All 42 of my young athletes did it. I did it. Hunter Kemper did it. We can all share our love of sport in different ways. Find your way and lead others to it.
Until next time...