Why do we participate in organized races? Why do I sign up for events like the Highmark Quad? It’s not because I am psyched to be seen in a swimsuit with sun-starved skin in April under the fluorescent lights of an indoor pool. It’s not because I expect to see my name in a newspaper as first place winner of the event. It’s not because I have a corporate sponsorship. It’s not a team sport like soccer where I get a buzz from making the perfect pass to assist a goal. What can it be?
I think we participate in races and lifestyle sports for a few reasons. Although races like the Quad swim are individual pursuits; there is something communal about showing up to a race with a bunch of others to do the same task. There is a pride in being one of a bunch of people who want to take on a challenge and complete it. We want to test ourselves. We want to hold ourselves accountable and see if we can do better than we did last year. A few seconds faster, a smarter flip turn, a perfect dive into the water – the details differ, but the personal successes are there when we look for them.
>Beyond race day, the good feelings of the athletic community continue. When you see someone with a Quad Champions t-shirt, you recognize them as a peer. The fabric of community is woven with shared experience. Abilities vary, but there are universal spoken or unspoken bonds that athletes have. The chill of the pool when you first get in, the odd feeling of learning to recognize yourself with a swim-capped, goggled head, the pondering of whether shaving your arms would shave a second off your time, the feeling of the rip and pull of water from above your head to below your hip, and the way the water shuts the world out and leaves you alone with your body and mind.
Why participate? To pursue good health and be a part of an event over three decades strong that does for individuals and communities. This is why I swim, bike, run and ski with the Quad.
Good luck with all your training….see you on April 26th
Katie Landis (Turk)