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OK, so this is sort of a race report, but it is a race that I didn't participate in. The SOMA Triathlon in Tempe ARIZONA took place this past weekend. I had planned on doing a triathlon in Mexico earlier in the month, so I didn't sign up for this one. Unfortunately, circumstances caused me to miss the Mexico race, so I wanted to do a race, but decided to volunteer instead of doing a race I had not planned and trained specifically for. It would have interfered with a long run (scheduled 16 miler) that is on my schedule for a December marathon I'm planning on.<br><br>
Volunteering is nice, because you don't need to get up quite so early (unless you are volunteering at check-in or body marking or something). I had emailed the race organizers and got a response that was something like "sure we can use you. Show up and we will put you to work." So I slept in and got there around 8am. By this time, many folks were already on the bike course and they happily gave me a shirt and sent me to help direct bike traffic.<br><br>
I stood there yelling "Half turn, Quarter straight" until we saw the last quarterman bike come through. Then we rearranged the cones and just pointed to the turn. It was nice to be able to give my voice a rest, but my left arm was starting to ache so I turned partway around and pointed with my right arm for awhile.<br><br>
I had a bunch of friends racing and so as I was directing the bikes, I tried to spot them. I wasn't very good at it, since I only spotted one on my own. Another I recognized when I heard a familiar voice yell "hi" on her way past. A third familiar voice said "hi", but I wasn't sure till later who it was. I guessed correctly, but by the time I thought I knew who it was, they were probably already a half a loop around the course.<br><br>
I did see a lot of bikes and people. Many different bikes, from typical road bikes to high-end triathlon bikes. Several folks were even on mountain bikes. Likewise, many different types of people, young and old, thin and not-so-thin, serious and smiling.<br><br>
The best part of this race for me was seeing the racers passing by with smiles on their faces. The biggest smile was on a girl <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Very Happy"> that was on one of the mountain bikes that I saw out there. Every time she came around, she had this huge grin on her face that was just contagious. Everyone I was volunteering around saw it and got a big grin on their faces too. We were shouting encouragement to the racers as they came by, but she was on cloud nine. I didn't get her number, but I would like to nominate her for an award. If Best Smile was an official category, she would have taken the top spot on the podium. By the way, she was doing the Half Iron distance race, so she was on that mountain bike for 56 miles and her smile was at least as big on the 3rd lap as the first time I saw her come around, and maybe even bigger.<br><br>
OK, so this isn't a typical race report. It was a hot day (mid 90's) and that made it a tough race. I know that if the Smiling Girl made the bike cutoff, if was just barely, though she was at least 30 minutes ahead of the last bike on the course. Somehow, I don't think her day would have been spoiled if she heard "sorry, you missed the cutoff". She seemed to have figured out why she was racing and was happy to be there.<br><br>
If she did make the cutoff, I know that smile would have stayed on her face for every inch of the 13.1 mile run. Why, because she very clearly "gets it". For most of us, triathlons are not going to be our full-time job. For many of us, simply trying to finish or finish a little faster that we did last time is the point of the race. Participation <b>is</b> winning for most of us. That smile will help me keep the right focus the next time I have a bad run, ride or race and start to get down on myself. I will remember The Smiling Girl and will congratulate myself for getting out there and trying, but most of all for having fun doing it.
 

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What a great attitude! Sounds like she does in fact, get it! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile"><br><br>
And great on you for volunteering! I also just did that for the first time myself and thoroughly enjoyed it! It was definitely something I will do again!<br><br>
Thanks for sharing this. Stories like this help to put things back into perspective! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Smile">
 

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Hey Cactus - I didn't see this until just now; that sounded like a great experience you had there.<br><br>
And that's what I love about volunteering as well - it's people you meet such as your Smiling Girl. Everyone participant has got their own little different story, and I think part of the fun of being on the other side is when you can latch onto it, even if it's just for a brief, passing moment.
 
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