Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tri Party, Honoring 'A Tri in Every State'

Mike and Me

My tri pals Scott and Mark threw their "Second Annual Season Recap" party which is a great end to the race season and start to the holiday season. I was really looking forward to it.

My son asked if he could go, and when I explained that it was going to be mostly triathlon people, he said, "I shudder to think of more like you." LOL. Okay then!

It's a little odd for us all to see each other in "normal" clothes. Just for the shock value, I wore a dress (Athleta, of course). Photographic evidence is lacking, but it's true!

Scott and Mark T against the wall on the left, Mark L making the presentation to Mike.

Scott and Mark "Macca" do a tremendous slide show of each person's accomplishments, complete with nicknames, awards, and of course, a few embarrassing photos. This year, Mark "The Transformer" made a special award to Mike Morris, who has been doing triathlons since 1985 - 28 years! (I "interviewed" Mike on my blog in August 2011; you can read that here.)

This is Mike in 1985, "Old school 1985. Tennis Shoes, toe clips, downtube shifters, clunky helmet with mirror, no gels, no wetsuits, no clue about what I was doing. Charlotte Bud Light at Lake Norman."

Mike was recognized because this year, he completed his goal to complete a triathlon in ALL 50 states. His accomplishment was featured in our paper as "The Traveling Triathlete."

Upon receiving his "Tri-ed in 50 States" shirt and framed article, he spoke for a few minutes. The room was silent, and his words were moving. I'm sorry we didn't capture it on video, but he shared a few words in an email to me:
"Triathlon has always been about sharing the experience.  We would ride back from races and everyone would have a different account of something in the race plus the joint bit*#* about the, heat, the waves, the wind or something.  It is those memories that stick with you. The stuff you pulled on each other, the competition among us, and the common experience.  You have one from NZ. There have been many for me over the years.

The experiences of 28 years, seeing people come and go from the tri and running scene is the sad part.  Many have come and gone.  Most of them did not want to stop but medical issues stopped them. We train among healthy active people, but most of America is in sad shape. That makes you appreciate the ability to keep on going.... Look at the male rankings for 55-59, 60-64, and 65-69.  You will see the numbers dropping in half for each age group increment.  My chances statistically of making it for another 10 years is only 1 in 4.  I plan to try and beat those odds."
Mike modeling some 'old' school gear!

Mike has been a part of Team USA for many years at various events and he is just a tremendous ambassador for the sport. I credit Mike with talking me into my first Nationals which snowballed into so many exciting opportunities and experiences. I am one of countless athletes he has encouraged and helped through the years.

I'm in it for the long haul too, Mike, and I hope to encourage others the same way you did (and still do) for me. Thank you for sharing your passion and humble gratitude.