Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Just Us Narcissists Here

I'm amused by the criticism thrown Tri-Geek Kahuna's way after a recent post about triathletes and their proud commitment to a way of life. From the safety of his/her couch, an anonymous commenter called us smug, pathetic, sneering, obsessive-compulsive narcissists. Holy banana cakes.

That's a lot of big words for someone who refuses to come out of hiding. I've recently threatened to disable anonymous comments on Life Is A Tri, believing that they simply encourage stupidity. After all, how much good is an opinion you won't attach your name to? Not much damn good at all, that's how much.

But more than that, I have to say that I've never been a newbie in a sport where people were friendlier and more willing to share encouragement, ideas, advice or a helping hand. Triathlon training and racing are often pretty solitary endeavors. And I suppose some of us like it that way at least some of the time ( I know I do.) But before the racing starts - and certainly once it ends - I've not found a group of people anywhere more outgoing, engaging and just plain fun to be with. Not exactly textbook behavior for narcissists, is it?

Can we be self-absorbed on occasion? Sure, but so can anybody in pursuit of a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal as my Prior Place of Employment used to call them,) regardless of whether the goal is athletic or intellectual, personal or professional. That doesn't excuse it but neither does it make us unique.

I vividly remember losing my triathlon virginity in July of 2003 and the sheer number of people who stopped to offer a few encouraging words after learning it was my first time. Must've been that look of stark raving terror on my face or maybe the fact that I had NO freakin' idea how to set up a transition area. I don't remember any smugness and if there was sneering at least they were polite enough to sneer out of earshot. And on that day the only thing pathetic was me.

Yep, I love hanging out with triathletes and, much to this confirmed introvert's amazement, they don't mind hanging out with me either. And, dear reader, if you're wondering about the welcome you would receive should you venture into the tri waters, as I've said before triathletes are really just thousands of friends you haven't met yet. It's a pretty inclusive club. Welcome.


Flatman said...

Well said. Everyone in the Tri community that I have met, emailed, shopped with, chatted with, etc...have been the nicest people I have dealt with on a whole! That's saying something.

I really appreciate all of the new friends I have made and am yet to make since joining the ranks!

mipper said...

here here! i only have aspirations to do a tri and yet i am encouraged at every turn. triathletes are elite, not only in physical capabilities but also in social abilities as well. excellent post.

Wil said...

Very cool post! I've also had the best experiences meeting triathletes.

I think that when people push themselves that far on a regular basis, the important things in life become, it's too exhausting to be petty and mean!

nancytoby said...

Nicely said! I can remember setting up my transition stuff on Sunday and the woman next to me asking if I had enough room, and I said "Yeah, there's plenty of room for everybody! You'll all be gone by the time I come through!" and I was right!

soccerdad said...

well spoken, steve. i've met many triathletes and runners over the past few years and virtually every one of them would willingly go out of their way to help you. even the "elite" athletes and the few professionals i have met have been super. it's a wonderful community.

Shelley said...

Well said!! All anyone has to do is give it a tri and find out for themselves why we love triathlons so's sooooo about the people!