I did not enter this sport to play stupid. Plenty of people have questioned my choices about training in conditions that would encourage the average person to take cover in the comfort of their homes. Let me be clear: I train in the weather we encountered today in Boise. I was prepared. Perhaps others were not. The fact that others were not apparently have some people berating the officials (from what I've seen on Facebook) about making the bike leg shorter from 56 miles to 15. Did I not just say I entered this sport because of it's inclusiveness, it's invitation to others to choose a healthy lifestyle and give it a go? Here are some of the comments that have me concerned:
- "If you are not prepared (and a lot of people were not) then don't do it."
- My take: From what I have heard, Boise presents as a great race for beginners. I value the people in this sport who strive to attract new people to the world of triathlon. To encourage people not to do something just because they aren't as strong as some of the more serious triathletes is damaging. How could we possibly encourage others to participate if we have people making comments like this?
- "They made the wrong call. The wind is not that bad. Don't triathletes prepare for all conditions? Seriously...it's pathetic."
- My question: Did you actually drive out to the plateau with the worst wind conditions to see how they were yourself? From what I gathered from people who have raced this course in the past and who actually LIVE here, the weather in one area of Boise is not the same as that in another. For instance, I checked in my bike in the rain last night. Upon heading out to drive the bike course, we had sunshine. Having said this, I did NOT go to the areas the officials claimed had dangerously high winds, so I cannot comment on the validity of the decision made by the officials, and I will not. But seriously? Unless you went out to see for yourself, I don't think you can comment either.
- "It was the wrong call. Awful officials..."
- My opinion: While I find myself slightly disappointed that I didn't have the opportunity to put my training to the ultimate test today at my first Half Ironman event, I do not, and WILL not fault the officials for the final decision they made. I watched an older gentleman shiver while sitting on a curb waiting for his swim wave to start. His face was blue. I stood next to athletes young and old absolutely chilled before even entering the water. There wasn't a single person not shivering...no, SHAKING with cold. Quite frankly, I think it's people who make comments like this who are "awful" for the sport of triathlon. We should take pride in the fact that we are a friendly, inviting group. To tell an old man that could have been my grandpa to "pack it" simply because he wasn't strong enough to handle the conditions is pathetic.
On a final note, my race report is coming. I just had to get this off my chest. For those of you who disagree, feel free to do so. I have an opinion, too, and I think it's a legitimate one. So by all means, call me what you want: Pansy, Chicken, Girl. Whatever. I'm happy to know plenty of hardened triathletes with warm hearts. Those are the people I'll stick around, continue to train with, and strive to emulate.
For those who finished today: You are a true competitor. Truly inspiring.
For those who decided to throw in the towel: You made the right decision. Don't doubt yourself about it. As my mom would say, there is no sense in risking your safety for one race when another one will follow.
For those who were disappointed with today's decision: Find another race to prove yourself. DON'T blame the officials for considering the safety of the ENTIRE field of athletes today. YOU are not the only one out there. Respect the fact that the sport of triathlon is compromised of a wide array of competitors: different ages, different backgrounds, different goals. This is just how the sport should be advertised. Don't tarnish this sport with poor sportsmanship and behavior.
On that note, I'm finished blowing steam. I have a body to recover. Good night, and congratulations to everyone! To those who followed me and others competing today, I can't express enough thanks and gratitude for you taking the time to leave thoughtful notes of encouragement and congratulations. It didn't go unnoticed. Thank you!