Before Snowpocalypse happened yesterday across much of the southeast (except in most of Florida where it was ridiculously warm and humid), Meredith of Swim Bike Mom wrote a very raw and personal post titled “An Unworthy Life” about where she is currently in her triathlon life and how sometimes she feels like she’s not a “real triathlete”.
Meredith trained for and completed Ironman Coeur d’Alene last year and has been doing triathlon for a number of years, starting with a spin class at a local gym lead by her former coach, Coach Monster. When she found triathlon and the beginning of a new sport (she did olympic weightlifting previously), she started her blog which has morphed into multiple outlets and partnerships with legit companies such as All3Sports.com but with these partnerships and public appearances, there have been critics along the way, some louder than others.
When Meredith writes about these experiences she does so in a very honest, exposing way. I would say 98% of the people who read her posts are fully supportive of her but its the 2% who feel, for whatever reason, that she is not a “real triathlete” and make their voices magnified with their negativity.
I say bullshit to those 2%. Just because she is not a size zero or a podium stalker doesn’t mean she didn’t cover the same, exact 140.6 miles that the guy who placed first in his age group did. Whenever I read about these 2% encounters, they typically come from guys who I believe are deep down threatened by her success or are questioning why they aren’t partnering with brands like she is.
“Well, the dude behind me, who I have known for a while, said, “Wait. Are you sponsored or something by All3?”
It wasn’t the question that made me cringe… It was the tone of his question.
And the tone felt mean.”
Meredith’s blog speaks directly to me quite frequently. While I may not have kids and a husband to juggle like she does, I too don’t always feel like a “real triathlete”. I’m not a size zero or two nor do I think I ever will be. I wear a size large tri top and shorts and I’m fine with that. Sure I would like to trim down some and I know that will happen when Ironman training starts in a month but I can get through a course pretty quickly and have even placed in my age-group.
As a business owner at the age of 28 I’ve had my share of doubters and critics. Now, I’ve never been one to deal with criticism in the best of ways, having the ability to just let it roll off my back easily but I’m learning because I have to, otherwise, the critics would win and I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing.
“You own an endurance sport nutrition store and have never done a marathon?”
Yes, I do and no, I still have not done a marathon but I am doing what I want to do with my life and have the experience and knowledge to back it up.
So I ask, when did triathlon and sports in general, go back to being exclusive rather than inclusive?
For years, we made strides as a country to desegregate on the field, provide women the opportunity to play high school, college and professional sports and to allow those from other countries the opportunity to find a better life in the US through sports. Our society has gone to one extreme with regards to kids sports where every one gets a medal or trophy so why are we going to the other extreme as adults? Can’t we find a happy medium for all to enjoy sports and grab a medal if they place and not worry about who is participating?
It feels as if we take a step back from this progress when someone voices their opinion as to why someone else would want to be involved in a sport because of their size or lack of speed. I ask those 2%, does someone else’s participation really take away from your experience? If you are so fast, then you don’t have to worry about the person behind you…right?
More and more women (and men) are finding triathlon and running and these women (and men) come in all shapes and sizes, will inevitably race at different speeds and will change the sport, for good. For a long time, its been dominated by 15% body fat, speedy guys but thats just because the sport started with those guys and I am so glad they did start the sport! However, we are seeing a wave of change in who is participating and we should welcome this change with open arms not snicker behind someone’s back and make a comment about their intentions. We are seeing this change because our nation is waking up to the fact that we are not so healthy and are shortening our lives by being inactive. This wave of change is much needed and necessary so we can provide good role models for our kids and to be around for our grandkids and family.
So with that, welcome to the sport of triathlon, I welcome you with open arms!