07 January 2012

Humble Pie

The people I think are the most admirable in the triathlon world are those who are humble about everything they have accomplished in the sport. The ones who aren't posting on Facebook about how many miles they just biked, how fast they did their long run, or the stat to every single leg of their most recent race. The ones whose blogs have matter-of-fact, useful race reports that may or may not recount their splits, instead of a race report full of bravado. The ones who do the work quietly and consistently, the ones who don't NEED to call attention to their training and performance because their results say it all. On way more than one occasion, I've been guilty of the faux-pas I just mentioned. When training for my first few Ironmans, I had FAR too many status updates on Facebook about all of my athletic accomplishments of that day. I felt like I needed to talk about everything I was doing to get noticed, get attention and admiration - and honestly, my results were pretty mediocre. Nothing that commanded the bragging I was doing. In the age of Facebook, blogs, Twitter, it's hard not to get caught up in shameless self-promotion. But as I notice the habits of those around me who I do admire, I'm trying to make positive changes in my habits and the way I carry and represent myself to emulate the behaviors I find admirable and not get sucked into the braggart role. This has required many large helpings of humble pie.
Case in point: recently I was introduced to someone who is also involved in triathlon. We chatted for a bit about races and what we did in 2011 and plans for 2012. She was quiet and very modest about the races she had done while I yammered on and on about how I did X, Y, and Z races last year and what I hoped to accomplish this year, blah, blah, blah. Well, later in the day I Googled her to see what AG she was in, etc. Annnnddd, she's a pro triathlete. I felt pretty stupid. And at the same time, felt so much respect for her - she could've easily said, "I'm way too fast to be training with someone like you" or "Do you have any idea how fast I swim/bike/run, do you really think you could keep up with that" etc, etc, etc. But she didn't. She didn't let on one bit about what a pretty kick-butt triathlete she is. And there are other triathletes I've met through my tri club who, in their first Ironman and/or first year of doing triathlon, qualified for Kona. Their FB pages were quiet on those days where they won a race or placed really well in a competitive field - the only activity was the virtual congratulations by others who had caught wind of their accomplishments by either being at the race or hearing it from someone who was there.
So, this blog, my FB page, all a work in progress. If you look at my race reports from 2011, you can tell I vacillated between including my splits and omitting them - they aren't the most important thing in the race report (I think the learning experience of the race is definitely more important) and if people really want to know, they can just check your profile on Athlinks.com. But, it's kind of nice to have the splits in the race report so when I look back, all the info is right there. I hope that if I continue/slip up and exhibit some of the aforementioned undesirable traits, that someone will call me out on it. You'd be doing both me AND everyone else a favor.

9 comments:

beingcat said...

Well said, Caroline. Just so you know, you do not come across as one of those people you're mentioning - at all. I think it is okay to tout your accomplishments when you're really proud of them, but yes, there is a fine line.

I promise I will let you know if you become like *those* guys but I seriously doubt I will ever need to. You are so down to earth and supportive of your teammates. :)

Damon Taaffe said...

It's an interesting take. Do you feel the same way about newer athletes posting workout details? What if they feel that the public postings hold them accountable and serve as motivation? I'm mixed on the whole thing; I don't post much unless it is something pretty epic, in which case it really is a status update.

Caroline said...

@Cat - thanks! I agree, there is definitely a fine line (which is a nice segway into my answer to Damon). I think major accomplishments, especially for those just starting out and reaching important milestones each week, those should definitely be touted - it's a big deal. I don't think there is anything wrong with talking about accomplishments. I think the fine line has been crossed when they put others down when talking themselves up. Or, every single day, all they talk about is how awesome they are and how awesome their workouts are and how superior they are to others. I could just choose not to read these comments/blogs, but it serves as a good reminder of what I DON'T want to become.

Em said...

I completely agree. One of the athletes I have the most respect for, is a local "newbie" pro, who is an incredible athlete, yet very down to earth, kind and rarely posts her workouts or achievements (even though I believe she was the 4th pro at Cozumel this year...) She really is awesome, but never talks about it.

And by the way - I think you're a pretty badass triathlete and one of the more humble ones I know.

Caroline said...

@Emily - I think you are an awesome athlete and fearless biker (something I would *love* to become someday) and I want to talk to you about CX sometime - 2012 might be the year to give that sport a shot!

Katie said...

yes, this. I also wish and hope to emulate this - it's why I stopped doing a "weekly recap" of my training - no one really is interested except to yell at me to take more rest days, you know? well said.

chitoandkgo said...

Caroline, The first time I met you we were in the Providence locker room and you had just gotten back from an awesome race @ Wildflower (sunburned!). I was still trying to remember what the Half Iron distance was. You patiently answered all of my questions and I really appreciated it. You were extremely humble and I've liked you ever since!

Em said...

You've got the running down, triathletes dismount quickly too and you're quick on a bike :-) Just some practice playing in dirt and you'd be ready to roll! And if you are serious for 2012 - we'll chat, because I would be stoked to have you race CX with me this year!!

Ohhh - and CX bikes aren't terribly $$ because they're meant to get beat up and dirty - now might be a good time too to find a used one :-) Hehehe

Caroline said...

@Katie - thanks!
@Kendra - you are too sweet. You are definitely one of the people I was thinking about when I was writing this and you are the type of person I try to emulate and truly respect in this sport.
@Em - I will definitely let you know about CX. I am also thinking about trying to do a little more mountain biking (once I buy a bike). And I might take your advice and look for a used CX bike, just to get me started :)