I have officially joined USC Triathlon. (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone on the Cal team.) I’m still not sure if I’m going to race, since I’m still not sure if I feel like training for races. I wanted to do nationals, but it turns out nationals are as far away as you can get from Southern California and still be in the U.S. So, for now, the team just provides training partners and fun and a reminder that collegiate triathlon is ridiculous.
Yes, collegiate triathlon has gotten way more competitive since I graduated and the national championship is no joke and, while I have my concerns about making it pseudo-NCAA (or “an emerging sport,” if you want to get technical), that move has brought more money, legitimacy, and maybe talent into the sport.
But, man, it’s still ridiculous.
At the heart of the ridiculousness is that these are still college kids and college kids don’t know anything, no matter what college or what sport. Even the serious NCAA athletes around the gym and facilities seem so cute and unfocused to me right now, despite the fact that they may be way faster and more accomplished than I am. Plus, for triathlon, they’re college kids in a club sport, which means it’s not as much about the sport and more about the club. Back at Berkeley, I thought we were so serious and hardcore and dedicated, but now it’s obvious that we weren’t really. USC’s team is basically the same as Berkeley’s, same kind of workouts, same work hard, party hard mentality. But, I see it through a different lens now.
Now, the totally crowded swim workouts seem crazy to me. The overheated pool and crammed flailing lanes feels like chaos — fun chaos, but chaos. Suddenly, with so many people missing flip-turns and running into each other, I start missing half my flip-turns too and colliding with other swimmers coming off the wall. It’s like I forget how to swim. On the track, we run in the fourth lane, outside of the barriers, and the extra two to three seconds each lap kills me. One day, I asked, “Where’s a good place to bike?” The kids basically told me to ride down to the bike path by my house and along the beach on PCH. Oh, college kids.