It all starts with an abrupt comment, made by a small man as he exited my local coffee shop (Banyan Cafe). While I was enjoying my early am. almond milk latte, this little guy sat next to me...silent. I asked him a couple of questions about Tonka trucks and Ninja Turtles (typical man stuff). Oddly, he didn't answer any of my questions, he just starred at me in my military uniform. 10 minutes pass and the little lad and his Dad are on their way out. I'm pretty sure he took 5 to 6 steps, did a 180, ran back inside and screamed a phrase that changed my life (or at least my week). He stomped in, paused for 3 seconds and screamed "You look like a tree"! That seemingly insignificant moment reminded me how FUN it was to be a carefree, nose picking 6 year old. EVEN though I still occasionally pick my nose, I kinda wished I was a kid again, filled with blind courage. Soo really, the "take away" from this moment leads me into something I contemplated on my 5 hour drive home from Panama City. No matter what, focus on where you've been and LOVE what you do. Keeping it simple and innocent makes a big difference.
The main reason I wanted to travel to this race was so I could support a close friend as he tackled his first triathlon as "Race Director". I don't usually try and fill 4 weekends in a row with races, but I thought I would give it a shot. Sprint triathlons are intense enough, however there is usually a 2 hour post workout involved. I suppose the real test will be in 2 weeks, once I've competed in two highly competitive Olympic distance races. So here is the White Sands Triathlon low down.
It was so awesome to travel to Panama City stopping at awesome vegan/organic restaurants and cafes along the way. I stopped at this place called Sweet Pea Cafe, a totally raw/delicious experience. Small venue, walls lined with ingredients, menu written in chalk and EVERYTHING is homemade right in front of you. Moving on, the food was awesome during the whole trip...Mellow Mushroom Pizza, a farmers market falafel wrap and fresh caught blackened fish at a neighbors!
This race is very "up and coming" and is definitely the #1 sprint on the Emerald Coast. Since this event is under New Management, I see it growing larger and larger every year. Sharing the course with Gulfcoast Triathlon and Ironman Florida, this race has a lot of history behind it and is obviously a great venue! Smaller, locally organized and sponsored races really bring a great feeling. Local races that don't treat athletes like dollar signs really keep this sport alive. The Swim came with crystal clear water, calm rolling waves and the water temp was perfect. An unseasonal cold front rolled in the night prior but actually led to perfect conditions. The Bike course was well marked, safe and was rather fast! Despite the wind and being blown around a bit, it was perfect. The Run was a simple out and back, well supported and flat. Honestly, it was everything you could expect from a first class event.
Alright, it's obvious from that large smile on my face, I had a blast and I will be soliciting many of you to join me next year!
Back to my general thought about racing and getting back to our "roots". I had a lot of thinking time today, which means my mind was content listening to static on the radio while my mind was jumping around through hundreds of random thoughts. I LOVE competition, but I think being too focused on the numbers, results and overall place can be taken a little overboard. Triathlon is a way of life, not just something we do. We aren't just a "brand" or an advertisement and it's easy to forget that. We race for our own reasons, each story taking a unique twist. Essentially, I heard a really awesome interview with Macca today, it reminded me that even the top pros take a step back to appreciate the sport, it's heritage and how fulfilling it can be to race with your heart. It all makes sense when I heard a guy crashed at Kona, broke his bike, picked it up and carried it the last 20 miles so he could "Finish" the race. IF that doesn't freaking rock, I don't know what does.
It often takes something small to remind us that we are taking life a little too seriously (kids are a great example). It doesn't mean we have to severely change anything but it's nice to stop and appreciate what we have, remembering we can truly accomplish anything if we focus enough time and energy. So I hope for a great race this next weekend at St. Anthony's and at future races as well, but I truly believe I'll get better and better just by loving what I do and surrounding myself with others who feel the same way:) I'm grateful for all of the support and great friends I've met thus far.
P.S....Still need to check out Tom Cruise in Oblivion. I hear it's amazing.