For the past 12 years, I've been involved in the Danskin Women's Triathlon here in Austin. The first two years I was a plain old volunteer. The next year, I joined the organizing committee and spent five years as a committee member. Then my dream came true, and I was offered a position as paid staff. I was still doing all the same work, but I was getting paid for it. I did that for five years.
But this spring, as things started rolling for this year's race, I decided that I needed to exercise some restraint and show some sanity by not being involved. I just couldn't take on one more thing in my life. So I sent the two race directors an e-mail telling them of my decision. I also wrote about how proud I was of the race and the work I've done on it.
The first year I was on the committee, 1999, we held the race out at a little park on Lake Travis, and we had 800 women. Three years later, the race moved to Decker Lake, east of town, and we were able to expand exponentially. This year's race has almost 3,000 women participating. It has become a premiere triathlon.
My favorite thing about the race, though, is how there are women of all shapes and sizes and athletic abilities out there. Many participants are first-time triathletes, and many have never done anything like this in their lives.The air is charged with positive energy and excitement. I get inspired by the women and their stories.
As race weekend got closer, I started to regret my decision to not be involved a little. I know there was no way I could have handled any extra work, but I missed being part of the event. So Friday afternoon I went out to the race site just to say hi. And this morning I took the girls out to the race. In all the years I've worked on the event, they've never actually seen the race.
I'm so glad I took them out there. The finish line coordinator, who has worked on the race for about as long as I have, let Ella and Lily hand out water bottles to the finishers, which they loved. I got a bit misty watching them with their big smiles, handing out water and high fives to the women as they came across the finish. Ella is now asking how old she has to be before she can do a triathlon.
As much as I miss working on the race, it was really a nice morning. I swanned in at 8:00, long after the race had started, said hi to friends, watched some of the race, hung out at the finish in the shade of the medical tent, and left before the heat kicked in.
Being there, though, reinforced my decision to work the race again next year. Because my life will be so much calmer then.