I was going to share a whole list of things I learned while spectating Ironman Arizona — which was actually the first Ironman I’ve ever watched that I wasn’t doing — but there really wasn’t a whole list of things to share.
Spectating is exhausting. The cost-benefit analysis of just doing the damn thing suggests you should just do the damn thing. You’re already awake and there.
But here’s the real thing I learned after hours and hours of standing on the sidelines and cheering for dozens and dozens of people, listening to so many athletes (fast and less fast) tell their stories and yell out things as they ran by — this is not something anyone said or some larger analysis; this is just what I realized:
After a while everything starts to sound like an excuse. Even if it’s not.
“I don’t feel good. My bike broke. My leg broke. Things went wrong.” It’s not that those things aren’t true. It’s not that some of them aren’t really difficult or race-ending. It’s not that people don’t have very challenging things to overcome during an Ironman. It’s just that, after a while, it all starts to blend together. It all starts to sound like, “This is hard.” Broke your leg? Yeah, yeah, keep running.
This is something to remember for when I’m on the racing side and not the spectating side. Keep your head down. None of it is as important to anyone else as it is you to. Your race is just your race. And I should probably stop talking to people on the sidelines while I’m racing.