So, um, yeah. I went running with Desiree Ficker this morning. Well I was virtually running with Desiree. Desiree lives and trains in Austin, when she's not kicking a$$ at Kona. And see, I am in Austin too. For training, which translated means, "for meetings punctuated by training runs on Town Lake."
So I left my hotel early this morning before it was light and jogged to the nearest Starbucks on the corner of 15th and some uknown river name street here in the Cap City for some chemical inspiration to get in a key run session. In my ears I hear Simply Stu talking with Desiree about her Kona breakthrough.
Hey, this is Desiree's town. She could walk in at any moment. Right?
Well, she didn't walk in, but nevertheless her voice stayed in my ears through the Grande Drip and out onto the warmup portion of the run. How refreshing and wonderful she is, seemingly surprised that people were cheering for her and excited by her progress and accomplishments, an attitude so different from the average NBA or MLB player who acts as if we owe them our adulation and genuflection. Desiree told a tale of having the husbands and boyfriends of her competitors cheering for her at Kona. Man! Lisa Bentley's significant other giving Desiree time gaps back to Lise in the biggest race of the season??!!
I guess I should not be surprised, because in my experience, limited though it may be triathlon is not really about destroying your opponent. It's more about "striving with" your fellow racers against a common enemy--whether its the clock, the course, father time, your own fear of the water or your own perceived limitations, fear, failures and demons.
Desiree and Stu finished up about when it was time to work--about 6 miles of fartlek in the middle of a ten mile run. I was running on Town Lake, a course I'm sure Desiree has run many times. Although I did not see Desiree this morning, I saw the same wide range of folks she must see when she's out there "striving with" us.
I saw fetching pony tails attached to college coeds.
I saw biceps and beer bellies attached to UT frat boys.
I saw buzz cuts without beer bellies attached to freakin' fast Austin Firemen.
I saw a sweat band and grey locks attached to an amazing lady masters runner.
I saw birkenstocks and leashes attached to earth mothers walking their dogs.
I saw strollers attached to soccer moms walking their infant future soccer stars.
All of us were out there striving with each other and enjoying a perfect morning. The cool thing about our sport is that if I had seen Desiree at the water fountain, I would have felt perfectly comfortable giving her a high five and introducing myself, and she would have been just another runner out there on the same path.
We are all, after all, on the same path. We may have different starting lines, different goals, different limitations, different obstacles, but at the end of the day, the differences are not nearly so significant as our commonalities.
We're all in this together.