By Aaron Runyon
Race Date: 10/1/16
I struggle to write a meaningful race report without sounding cliche. I want to say things like, "life is unpredictable," "just have fun," "goals aren't always meant to be accomplished," and even "enjoy the experience." But as race day unfolded for the Santa Rosa Island Tri these were the things that came to mind. Why? I think it is because triathlon, and endurance sports in general, are a mirror for life. In such a short amount of time, a single race, you can experience such an array of emotions. Anticipation, excitement, joy, pain, frustration, hopelessness and so many more. Considering you often experience these with some of your closest friends and family it is no wonder that I often leave races feeling as if I have lived a whole lifetime in a matter of hours. To me, this is why trying to describe triathlon elicits larger than life, often cliche, statements that people have used, and over used, to attempt to capture life's experiences.
After several years of challenging weather Saturday blessed those who raced with near perfect conditions. SRI Tri is a bookend race for me. Not just the last race of my tri season but a chance to see friends one last time before winter drives me to other activities. I spent the morning taking the time to talk with people, including jokes about whether myself or another team member would have the slowest swim split (I won) and as I walked down the beach to the swim start and the sun was just cresting the horizon illuminating the glassy surface of the gulf I thought, "enjoy the experience."
Fast forward to the run and I was thinking the almost exact opposite. It felt terrible as it always does. And, as I was unsuccessfully chasing first place in my age group I was thinking, "goals aren't always meant to be accomplished." We learn more from failure.
For another trio from our team, plagued by unexpected injuries and bike wrecks, who were preparing for an impromptu GCTT relay, it was a slightly different story. Thrown together at the last minute because they all wanted to race, but due to their individual limitations had to specialize in one event each. They still wanted to be out there on race morning though. Soaking it all in. "Life is unpredictable."
In the end, it was a perfect day for racing, for learning, and for living. However, the event serves only as a prologue for many families. Early Sunday morning many of the same triathletes, now with kids in tow, are back at the beach for the Sea Turtle Kids Triathlon every year. As I watched the event, with my own three year old begging to race and not understanding why he could not, I couldn't help but be amazed. I saw challenged athletes, one with a single leg prosthesis, a visually impaired child with a guide, along with kids from all walks of life compete and complete a triathlon of their own with smiles on their faces. They reminded me yet again, "just have fun." Enjoy the ride.