Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Does Kindness, Compassion & Teamwork have to do with Triathlons?

If you ever considered being a triathlete you probably thought it was an individual sport that you would have to train hard and commit to in order to accomplish your goals. You may have thought you would hire a personal trainer or you may have decided to “go it alone.” For many years I have been running on my own and have enjoyed the solace of my runs. There were times I thought it would be nice to run with others but the groups I had run with in the past had a real sense of “elitism” and that was something I didn’t have the time or patience to be around. In 2008, I decided to start training for triathlons and I continued to do all my training alone. However, in 2009 I decided it was time to consider hiring a trainer. By chance, I came across a trainer that was exactly what I needed. She had recently started a triathlon team but I wasn’t so sure a team was where I wanted to be. I was so used to training on my own and to be around an entire team of triathletes wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for.

Because of the relationship with my new coach, I was asked to photograph a kid’s triathlon that she helped to coordinate. I love seeing children get involved in a sport I love so much so it was my pleasure to photograph the race. What I didn’t know was that decision would turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life and it would help me realize the community of people I had around me in a very different light. Let me explain…

I had been running back and forth between the pool start line and the run finish line the entire race because the kids were sent off in different start waves. So, as some of the older children were finishing the race, some of the younger ones were just starting. After all the participants were out of the pool I stood at the finish line taking photos. What happened next was something that shocked me tremendously. In today's society it seems rare that someone helps or encourages someone else without expecting something in return – particularly kids. But, it still exists! The passion a triathlete has for their sport makes them want to share it and that passion extends to other triathletes around them helping to create a team atmosphere.

The photo below is one of my favorite race photos because of the emotions it evokes in me. If you notice, every boy in the photo except for one is wearing a finisher's medal. All these boys came alongside of the other triathlete and cheered him on to the finish line. Did they know this boy? Possibly. But, as I snapped photos at the finish line I watched these same boys come alongside of many of the soon-to-be finishers and cheer them on to the finish line. It was the perfect example of what the triathlon community is all about: kindness, compassion and, yes, teamwork. It was such a great site it almost moved me to tears.

As I sat back after the race and thought about my previous experiences I realized that I am so thankful I decided to join the A-Team with Amaiza Fitness. I have found that same sense of community with the wonderful triathletes I train with from week to week. Kindnesses, Compassion & Teamwork are not character traits that are a thing of the past – they are present in each and every member of my team and in many of the triathletes I know in my community!

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