April 21st – Why being an Age-Group athlete is kind of like being a superhero…
Long before the sun is rising in the sky, while children lay tucked up in bed, couples snuggle in close, as the vegas strip begins to dwindle into submission, the age-group athlete awakens to an early morning alarm calling her into action. Scantily clad in lycra she begins her routine by initiating a workout, fine tuning her body to churn out intervals, increasing power output and V02max. She sweats, aches, and digs deep into the hurt locker, hungry for change, hungry to make a difference and to become the ultimate machine. With the workout coming to an end, she smiles, satisfied with the effort and work applied, but then begins her transformation back to her mere mortal self. A shower, change of clothes, breakfast and a coffee and she heads out into the world; the 9 to 5 grind, her ‘normal’ life. She enters work and begins her ‘normal’ day, unbeknown to her colleagues the secret hurt locker session she experienced just a couple hours prior. To the world, during the day, she is a healthcare professional. Once her day is by with and she is finished with the niceties of her day-to-day employment, she heads once again back to that hurt locker to suffer in silence, pushing, grinding, hurting, trying, believing…thats it…believing. And so it goes, a ‘double-life’; from the 9-5 routine to scantily clad exercise in an entirely different sort of uniform. Each day she puts in the work with no immediate reward or return on effort. Each day pounding away in the hope that one day she will be needed. But superheroes don’t wait around hoping to be needed, they ARE needed; they are needed to instil hope, faith and belief in others that they too can change, better themselves or achieve seemingly impossible goals. And what better way to enforce this than race day.
Along the course she digs deep into her inner superhero to find the strength, mental power and focus and determination to guide her through the course. Donning her team kit, she resembles not the day to day mere mortal, but an athlete. Acknowledging volunteers for their efforts, she hopes to show them how much they are valued and instills self-worth and gratification. Taking in the crowds of spectators, giving a knowing nod of appreciation for their cheers, she knows that that simple human gesture acts as a reminder that she is still human and that they could do what she is doing. She hopes to empower and motivate with her work. On the way back to her car still dressed in her ‘superhero’ attire, a new athlete congratulates her, however she will not pursue a conversation of self-appraisal but instead shows her admiration and interest into this new athlete, providing encouragement for future events and to continue this lifestyle of healthiness and happiness.
It may all sound ridiculous, but sometimes we age-group athletes need to take a little more comfort in knowing about our ‘superhero’ status. We live and train these double lives, often with family, friend or work commitments that professional athletes may not have to deal with. Undeterred by these challenges we show that with determination, hard work can overcome adversity, belief can self-efficate our own abilities and push us farther than we ever dreamed of, and a little motivation can move mountains….well maybe not literally…
So this blog goes out to all my fellow age-groupers, some of which aspire to and may become professional, others content with the challenging ‘superhero’ lifestyle, either way, this is for you. You know who you are; you are special, motivating, hard working, influential, empowering, dedicated…you are superhuman.
Swim, Bike, Run. Believe.