Friday, July 2, 2010

Super Secret Triathlon Journal

So, I harbor a secret: I keep a journal. Yes, yes, a paper one... and sometimes I even write in it. There's no typing or backspaces involved. It's just me and some paper, a pair of scissors and some tape.

I used to be a prolific diarist when I was "young". I have a whole bookshelf dedicated to the rants and raves of my childhood self, from aged 8 to maybe 19. At that time, I stopped journaling. It had become a tedious endeavor which I no longer enjoyed. For several months I wrote nothing. Then I realized that I didn't have to write about my days and weeks and months, I could plop evidence of the events I had experienced or the things I had encountered - and I could still call that "journaling".

When I first started triathlons, I kept all the tidbits that come along with racing and training: a consumed gel I found disgusting, a swim cap that ripped right after a race, all my race bibs, and so forth. They were stuffed into a box and basically considered useless. Then, after around my first year of tri-ing, I decided to create a journal and plop all that stuff into it. I'd write what I felt was relevant... if I felt like writing at all. When I started the process, I sensed a pattern that I thoroughly enjoyed: I would dedicate 2 pages to a race, I'd write all my times and so forth, but I'd also give the race it's own personal name. Each race would be entitled: "The One Where..." or "The One in Which..."



Here is how some panned out:
"The one where the chips malfunctioned"
"The one in which I should have been to run faster but couldn't/didn't"
"The one in which my knee wanted to explode"
"The one where I was 5 minutes late to start the race!!"
"The one with the ridiculously long transition distances"
"The one with all the pain and dying afterwards"
"The one which I raced after 6 weeks in Peru"
"The one where a hobo ran away with all the finisher's medals" - this one's my favourite!
"The one which instilled even further confidence in my coach's abilities"
"The one in which I get mild hypothermia"
"The one in which I finally break 3 hours (in an Oly)"



Some pages of this journal do not concern races, but are simply rewrites of favourite quotes, or inspirational advertisements, or anything that would motivate me to go further, both in triathlon and in life. The most important quote of them all is, without a doubt, this one:

You can't learn anything
when you're trying to look
like the smartest person
in the room.  
- From The Poisonwood Bible 
by Barbara Kingsolver

The word "smartest" can be substituted for any adjective people wish to ascribe themselves with: toughest, strongest, fastest, and so on. The biggest thing I've learned about triathlon is that the best way to improve is to be humble about what you're doing (swim, bike, run) because you can always get better. Someone can always teach you something. My ideal situation is to be in a triathlon club, or a masters swim team, or a cycling group where I am one of the weakest out there - everyone else pushes me to be better, they teach me how to improve and how to get stronger both mentally and physically. 

That was a tangent; the point of this post was to show off my awesome triathlon journal. What does everyone else do with their race collections? Do you chuck your race bibs and finishers medals? Do you wear them to work on casual Fridays? I would love to know!!