Dear Team USA friends and peers,
I want to congratulate us on being here. We are a unique group who have a common thread of doing well in athletic competition when a 3rd party system of judgment gave us high marks. How we got those marks, though, is a mixture of unique tales.
Some of us were born with genetic gifts that almost made success an expectation. We were both with the ability to go, and using the word go, I mean REALLY go. We are lean and have long legs and a high VO2 max that makes no sense for someone of our age. We were not the best at the crafts of swim, bike or run, but we trained just enough to be better than most everyone else. Many of our peers who work their butts off in their training finish behind us, as they couldn’t compete with our genetic physiology. You know who you are Dave C, Marcus A and Geri L.
Some of us are the essence of sports science. We train focused exclusively on science, and it works. Despite our increasing age, we seem to keep getting better. We learned to make our hard days SUPER hard. Bricks for us are more than a building material for a house. They are the building material of our bodies, perhaps several times a week. By brick I mean race paced effort or better and not some “turn the legs over” sort of 30-minute workout that coaches give their hopefuls who want to do well. We go to camps and we are all in with our nutrition, recovery and workouts. And, we kill it on every stage. You know who you are Kirsten S, Patty PR, and David E.
Yet, amongst us are some who have been dealt a less-than-stellar deck of genetic cards. Some of us had horrible life stories before introduction to multisport endurance racing. We have no hope of winning a medal at nationals or worlds, but we love all that goes with participation. We do more than pay for the police. We are the lights in the sky. We are the essence of overcoming adversity. To this point, I have used partial names. Game over. Kimee Armour, you change a generation of people by being you. You will soon be my favorite podcast.
Some of us have both genetics and train using science. We combine this with memebership in the “prime of our lives,” club. We are the ones that make the rest of us look good on the international stage, convincing announcers that all of us were meant to be endurance racers. We have the best blend of body and fitness, mixed with work ethic and discipline. We show up in records books.
On race day, I hate you and your elite peers, especially when we compete at the same time. Yet, you are often my friend. My perception of your success makes this process worth it. For those of you who read my blogs, you already know this. Gael L, Emma P and Allister B, you are getting a personal copy. Thanks for talking to me as just another athlete. Thanks for setting the bar so high. God, I wish I could ride at 50 kph on race day.
The truth is that I am jealous of your gifts. I can’t hang with you on race day, but I want to.
This program that USAT creates called TeamUSA has allowed us “non-elites” a chance to compete against each other on the world’s stage. It makes us into inadvertent inspirations to a generation both of strangers and of kids. We sometimes discover that we inspired our neighbors to lose weight or start running. People meet us and tell us about how they are now getting back into the gym, when we never knew nor cared that they weren’t going to the gym. We have stopped more than one lost soul from finding another fake leader on social media. This program made us into rock stars in a most unique way, on a most unique stage, without comparison.
None of the mainstream sports are doing this. Imagine if the NFL allowed fans from the stadium a chance to play a game of flag football, say, 2 hours before the opening kick. Yet, as endurance athletes, we get to race the same course as the elites, a few hours or days before they do. And, in many instances, we get to know them.
Sitting in the neurons of this process, are the staff members at USAT. They have created a logic that lets us do our thing and then talk about it until everyone involved is nauseous. Some pessimists conclude that part of their job description is being nice to us and listening while accommodating our princess-and-the-pea sorts of requests.
Guess what? Tim and Lauren aren’t nice because they are supposed to be. They are nice because…. they are nice. We give them something to be proud of and in some instances, our stories are their stories. Their role as administrators of this conjured program gives us a forum to be great. I used to weight > 200 lbs. TeamUSA stuff gives me a reason never to return to those numbers on my scales.
Lastly, it sucks to listen to people complain on uniforms that don’t fit them like a latex glove when they miss the pink elephant in the room. I don’t care if I must recycle my uniform like I do my cracked entrance card I need to use to enter the gym. I get a chance to compete, and that means something.
My kid is about to start triathlon at Arizona State. Do you think that would happen if I just “told him” about my work ethic back when I was a young man? Since he is smart, it is costing him $0 to go to school there and be a part of that team. How can any of us ask for a better outcome?
Next time you see the folks at USAT who make this dream state a reality, just pause and look at them. Smile, and perhaps you could say nothing else but “thank you.” They aren’t “just being nice.” Trust me; they could make a lot more with their organizational and management skills in corporate America than they do at USAT. There is something else going on that keeps them here.
And our job doesn’t end with doing out thing on race day. We get confidence to share in a way that makes us more than part of a country club where membership is for sale. People must step up and work to join our ranks.
Which leads me back to our USAT support staff. Lauren, since a few hundred people are reading this, keep in mind that some of us have talked about you being one of us. We think you could and should be in this uniform, on race day. Please accept our apology in advance if the uniform doesn’t fit right.
I don’t know if you see this next comment as good news or bad news.
Everyone agrees with me.