I’ve been participating in triathlon for a while now – like, before iPhones were a thing and we all knew how much Michael Phelps ate in a day. (Which, still … boy howdy, that was something, wasn’t it?) And I truly love this crazy sport – and not only because I feel like society gives you a free pass to eat like Michael Phelps if you show up at a restaurant with a multisport medal around your neck and numbers on your arms.
But … it’s not quite perfect, is it? Some people say, “If ain’t* broke, don’t fix it,” but I’m more of a “Everything is better with a little more glitter!” kind of gal. If it’s not Bedazzled (literally or metaphorically), it’s not living up to its full potential.
(Can someone explain “ain’t” to me, please? It isn’t an actual contraction of any two real words. It’s just a made-up noise and, when spelled out, uses the same number of letters as isn’t, which has the same meaning and makes sense. WHAT IS THE POINT?)
Like, three events isn’t bad. It’s pretty good, really. Definitely nothing to be ashamed of. But can you honestly tell me that it can’t be improved upon? Have you never been midway through a race and thought of something that would make this sport better?
Because you know I have. Like …
Dance off take off: Rather than elbowing one another out of the way as we sprint out to the water at the start of the race, what if we instituted a little dance competition to kick things off? She who throws down hardest gets to hit the water first. Not only would it be a great way to make sure swimmers are warmed up before they take their first stroke, but it would provide hella good entertainment for spectators. There’s literally no downside here that I can see.
On your marks, get set...Dance!
Constant vigilance points: I don’t think I’m alone here when I say that I sometimes zone out a bit on the bike portion – occasionally on the run as well. All that time with similar scenery and a more or less constant pace can lull many an athlete into a bit of a daze. Sure, we all pay attention to the important stuff, like traffic, water stops, and hilarious spectator signs, but what if there were bonus points to be earned for seeing specific predetermined items that have been placed along the course, like dolphin statues or Christmas trees or pictures of Britney Spears or a plush monkey in a tree? Of course, you’d have to be able to articulate where you saw it, and then somehow share that information at the end, and, I guess triathlon isn’t really set up for a point system so much as for time … but I’m sure the race directors and other powers that be can figure this one out. Haven’t I already done the hard part here?
Time outs for dog snuggling: It is so unfair to be in the middle of a race, running along like a freaking boss, and see an adorable cuddly puppy hanging out with a spectator… but just have to keep running and not stopping even for a quick scratch behind the ears. That torture is far worse than any other pain I’ve ever experienced out on the race course, I tell you. So, I propose a penalty-free petting option – a paws pause, perhaps? – allowing for a brief boop without losing time on the clock. Can we count on the honor system here? Dog people tend to be good people, after all.
No wait..On your marks, get set...Snuggle!
Sports drink chugging: The folks who can quaff a cup of thirst-quenching fluid without spilling a drop (or, you know, pouring half of it onto their face and another quarter down their arm) are really worthy of recognition. They should get a bonus of some sort. Or … maybe the real bonus there is that they’re well-hydrated and less sticky than the rest of us, in which case I guess this one kind of sorts itself out, huh?
Additional prizes: Don’t worry, I’m not getting all super soft on you and suggesting everyone deserves a prize just for showing up. (Even though sometimes I definitely feel like that’s deserved. This shit is not easy, in case you’ve forgotten.) But, I am of the opinion that it’s pretty awesome to have an opportunity to earn an award even if you’re not the speediest one in your age group. I’m not completely married to all of these, but I’m pretty sure there are a couple of must-haves.
- Best overall look: Obviously, choosing the right kit is crucial, but those whose style is on point when you bring everything – shoes, bike, helmet, watch, sunglasses, etc. – together should definitely get a little something for their efforts. And not only because it makes me feel a little better when the person passing me looks super sharp and put together and like they definitely know what they’re doing.
- Quickest sprint to the food tent; Highest pile of food on one plate; Most impressive post-race chow down: The race might be over, but the competition doesn’t have to be! And I think we all know this could get really
- Best spectator sign: Sure, they’re not racing, but the folks cheering us on – even when they’re big lying liars – really make the day special. Maybe we could make their day special, too, by giving them something more than a high five that sprays them with elbow sweat. Just a thought.
- Most nonchalant stroll to the porta-potties post-race: Because you know how hard it is to be chill when you really just need to go.
- Most creative way to stay cool during the run: I’m pretty partial to ice down the sports bra (and down the shorts … and in my hat), but, you know, I live in Florida and some of the races that take place over the summer are HOT, so people are always breaking out interesting methods for bringing body temperatures down. Let’s give people an extra reason to really show off their creativity here!
- First athlete able to sit on the ground and stand back up unassisted: It’s not that every race leaves us hobbling around forever, but that time immediately following the finish is universally uncomfortable. I’d happily hand out a medal to any athlete capable of crossing the finish line and proving him- or herself able to still move like they still have functioning knees and hip joints. Also, the prize gets better in the higher age groups.
Look, we already have all kinds of variations on our sport – aquabike, aquathlon, duathlon – not to mention a jillion different distances. What’s the harm in shaking things up just a bit more?
Speaking of shaking things up, I’ve got some work to do on my opening dance sequence. Later!
About the Author
Kristen is a busy (and very funny) woman. She's a writer, a certified triathlon coach, a pet lover and she runs Fit Bottomed Girls which is a site dedicated to empowering women to live a healthy lifestyle.