Triathletes aren't just triathletes...

they are students, parents, doctors, therapists (of all sorts), nurses, analysts, engineers, computer techs, lawyers, managers, salesman, scientists, and more. Triathletes don’t just swim, bike and run outside of their daily duties but there’s one thing I love seeing among these crazy bunch of endurance junkies…is the passion for caring.  They are humanitarians.  

One Sunday, I met up with a friend to run about 10 miles around our urban park that consists of 1,371 acres encompassing a host of free attractions: Missouri History Museum, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center (small fee) and the amphitheater, The Muny. Forest Park is beautiful park that holds quite some history dating back to hosting the 1904 World Fair and Summer Olympics.  It’s also a place where you see runners, walkers, people roller blading, cyclists, and kids enjoying time with their families. 
A view from the World Fair Pavilion...
Sunset from the Boathouse dock...one of the restaurants in the park. 
One of the original buildings from the 1904 World Fair, the Art Museum.
In the History Museum you can learn about the 1904 World Fair
and see pictures of the set-up, absolutely beautiful!
Most buildings unfortunately were temporary.
After our 10 mile run, my friend headed out for work. I, however, had more training to do.  I needed another hour of biking then 45 minutes of running.  As I was changing into my bike gear…I thought, why not attempt a straight 15 miles without breaking it up into a run, bike, run.  Plus, I didn’t feel like setting my bike up and breaking it down again. 

Within the first 15 minutes of the second leg of my run, I saw a couple kids with helmets on trekking their little bikes on the trail.  The little girl (looked about 7-8 years old) looked right at me as I was approaching them.  I’m observing her body language and it seems she’s going to ask me something.  At first I thought they wanted to tell me something, but I wasn’t quite sure.  Then at an instant, as if it took time for the girl to muster up some courage, the little girl muttered, “ phone ?”.  At first I wasn’t sure this is what she said as she was Asian decent and did not speak English very well.  I looked around them and saw no parents and immediately thought they were lost.  I don’t run with a phone and that’s when the little boy who looked no older than 5, started to get upset.  Like “Puss in Boot” from Shrek, upset.  I asked simple questions and pointed places they could have come from like the Zoo.  We looked pretty close to the Zoo so I held out my hands and said, “come with me, we will find a phone at the Zoo.” By this time they were both scared with the older sister trying to hold it together. 

They grabbed my hand and their bikes in the other as we walked, I caught a glimpse of a very welcoming site.  The St. Louis Police was driving by on their four-wheeler.  I immediately waved my hand high directing him to come over.  I told him I think the little girl knows how to use a phone to call her parents.  He had one in his pocket and was able to talk to their dad.  It was quite challenging with the language barrier but he was able to get the little girl to talk to him as well.  I asked if they were okay and they all thanked me and I took off to continue my run until I felt a tug to turn around and check on them (they were really scared).  The little boy’s eyes lit up and he said, “hi” when I came back and I patted him on the shoulder knowing he didn’t know what I was saying but wanted him to know that he’s okay. The police were able to find their father and went to pick him up to bring him back.  That’s when I took off again and the kids smiled and thanked me. 

Needless to say, it was a great day, a great run and the first time I ran beyond 13.1 miles in training!  It got me to thinking how much triathletes do outside of training and work.  They volunteer for races and other charitable events, promote healthier communities and even fundraise for various causes.  Do you remember Andy Baldwin from the tenth season of the Bachelor?! He’s a triathlete humanitarian.  He’s a physician, works for our country as a U.S. Navy physician, and gives back to veterans, communities and involved in missions around the world.

Another great perk about being involved in the local triathlon club in St. Louis is that we too, are actively involved in giving back.  We have volunteer coordinators that collaborate with local non-profit organizations.  I was able to spend part of a day helping out with a bike drive for Bicycle Works, an organization that collects bikes and bike parts (no matter how old they are).  They take the bikes apart and keep all the good components for their “Earn-a-Bike” program, a program for local kids to learn how to build and fix bikes while building their confidence to follow their dreams.  Bicycle Works also organizes the yearly food drive called, “Cranksgiving” where volunteer cyclists bike to grocery stores to purchase non-perishable food items for Food Outreach.

Triathlon may be an individual sport but it’s the comradery that comes with the sport making it “teamwork.”  I haven’t witnessed anyone tearing apart each other’s confidence or criticize another’s times.  It’s not a dog-eat-world.  Although, you will see a competitive drive while in action.  We put just as much energy into cheering one another on during the race as we would when we race.  We share the anxiety and nervousness of our fellow tri friends in a race.  And, no matter what time we cross the finish line, we are patting one another’s backs with a warm congratulations. 

Next time you think a triathlete is crazy, think what they’re crazy about.

Quote of the day:  I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.  ~ Maya Angelou

Bible verse of the day:   “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”  ~ Acts 20:35

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