Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts from a Triathlete

Sometimes I'm disappointed with myself.

Most triathletes are age groupers with full time jobs other than training and racing. We are constantly under the gun to work a full week or more, get our training in and handle all of our other responsibilities in life.
Just the other day, I was driving downtown thinking about when to get my next ride in, how can I take advantage of this great November weather, what are we going to get my 2 month old son for Christmas, bills, what to get my mother for Christmas, when will I find time to send out Christmas cards, what's my budget going to be for triathlon gear next year, how's my bonus at my job going to treat me, will I be able to make the races I want to do in 2011, how can I work out the training and racing logistics with a full time job, wife and 2 kids, just to name a few things.

As all those thoughts were swirling in my head, I was waiting for a turn signal and I saw a bum on the corner with a sign asking for money.

I had been at this intersection dozens of times and seen many bums taking turns holding signs for change at that corner. Usually I just looked on or maybe squinted for a second to see what they wrote, but I never really gave much thought to actually giving them money, until last Saturday.

The reason for my trip downtown was to visit my 2 month old son who was checked in for his 6th hospital stint after complications from his second surgery. I had been so wrapped up in my own world of kids, family, hospitals, bills and triathlon world that I never really took notice.

Maybe it was because this time was the first time I was first at the light, close enough to hand him money that I really took notice.

I had been too busy in my own little world to stop and really be thankful for what I have in the midst of complications with our second child and personal economic challenges.

As triathletes, the majority of us are doing this sport as a personal challenge or a way to stay fit. We don't need to swim - bike - run on a Sunday to stay alive. Of course exercise is important to a healthy long life, but not to the extent we take it. We don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on gear and entry fees. We don't need to travel to different states to consume 140.6 miles. Even Bryan Payne from Training Payne Blog posted about the need to just love swimming, riding and running without the need for all the hoopla that comes with being a triathlete. We choose to do all of this, and there's nothing wrong with that. That is, unless you do not appreciate what you really have.

Instead of complaining about what training we missed, how our bike speed sucks or how we need a new bike, we should be counting our blessings and being thankful this holiday season.

- I am thankful for my wife. Not only does she put up with me and my ideas and training, but she has the education and experience in the medical field to be with our son as he tries to get better in the hospital and knows when to call BS on a doctor or nurse that doesn't know what they are doing.
- I am thankful for my 2 year old daughter. Her smile and goofy sense of humor make the bad days good days.
- I am thankful for my newborn son. Even though he has been sick a lot, I look forward to getting him home and watching him grow up.
- I am thankful for my mother and mother-in-law. We can always count on them to be there for support with our daughter when I have to be at work and my wife is in the hospital with our son.
- I am thankful to my employer. Instead of feeling underutilized and unappreciated, I feel grateful my company has the flexibility for me to take days off for child surgeries and long lunches to visit him.

Compared to the homeless men on the corner, life isn't that bad. We have a house, we have cars, we have our health so to speak, we have pets and I have bicycles that I don't need in order to survive. Should we Triathletes feel guilty? We should not. We don't need to quit what we love doing, sell our tri gear and give it to charity. But, we are in a unique position that most of us can give something. Spare some change, give your time, or help an organization. Do something. I had money in my pocket and the light turned green before I snapped out of myself absorption enough to give it to that homeless man.

We triathletes are a privileged group. Don't squander an opportunity to help someone less fortunate and pay it forward. I'm sure my son will provide me with the opportunity at that street corner again. I'll be ready, I hope you will too. Happy Thanksgiving.
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