American Zofingen: A Sherpa Wife’s Tale
This past weekend was John’s first race of the season. The American Zofingen Long Course Duathlon. I am so exhausted from the travel, the schlepping, the spectating, and all the emotions that come with the job of a Sherpa Wife.
American Zofingen is a sufferfest like nothing I have seen before. It begins with a 5 mile loop through the trails which is probably the easiest part of the day. Except on this day, the course was sabotaged and the long course racers were sent 2-3 miles out of their way.
Next comes three loops of crazy climbs and harrowing descents. The bike course is demoralizing and soul crushing.
Just when the athletes think they can’t take it anymore, they have to finish with three 5 mile loops in the Catskill Mountains – like they were a pack of mountain goats.
As a Sherpa, this race was a little more challenging because of the limited aid stations. John could have given special needs to the volunteers (there weren’t many) at the aid station but it seemed easier to have me doing the hand offs. The hand offs took place in the middle of a big climb and provided some very stressful seconds (for me). John raced smart and his pacing was even the entire race. He finished in about 9 hours and 30 minutes but that is his tale to tell. His race report will be later in the week.
From the beginning I cautioned John to race smart and to be mindful of his health as we are 10 weeks out of Ironman Lake Placid. As a wife, I was very anxious for John to finish this race in one piece! I worried he would twist an ankle and I will spare you what I thought could happen on the bike course.
However, as a behaviorist, I find spectating these events fascinating and insightful to the human psyche. Observing the suffering, triumph, and unfortunately disappointment gives me something tangible in my pursuit to better understand athletes and human behavior. Observing behavior in a sport type setting, any sport really, has wide application to our everyday lives. There is something about Triathlon (and other endurance sports) that seem to eviscerate the soul giving way to great self-reflection. I think it is the mental strength required to go the distances and the exhaustion that breaks down vulnerability barriers. Yes, I know there are stereotypes within the Triathlon community but my observations tell me those athletes are the exception. My observations are focusing on the many men and women who have a deep love for Triathlon/Endurance Sports as a lifestyle and are on a quest for personal growth.
I am deeply grateful for the moments where I can sit and listen to these athletes tell their tales, bear witness to their race day revelations, and learn from their experience. The American Zofingen was the perfect race for this. The small field of athletes celebrating the completion of a legendary course led to some wonderful camaraderie.
Here are some lessons on success from the American Zofingen:
- While you can physically train your body, success happens in the mind.
- Everyone is out there for different reasons, having a clear vision of “WHY” is as critical as breathing.
- Success is defined by the effort, initiative, and attitude one exhibits on their journey regardless of where you place in the standings.
- Much can be gained by objectively reviewing your experiences and then letting them go.
- Taking the lessons learned and making them a positive stepping stone to the next experience is key to long term success.
- Success is nothing without integrity, honor, and good sportsmanship.
- Failure and success go hand in hand – one isn’t possible without the other.
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What are you lessons on success? What do you like about spectating sporting events?