Well, this sister did it. I finished my first outdoor triathlon this Sunday. It was an all-women's sprint (1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run), sponsored by TREK bikes, and it was phenomenal. Not so much my performance (I finished, so I was quite pleased with that), but this mass of super-strong, super-focused female energy. It was so inspiring to be a part of the whole thing.
You know where I'm going with this, don't you?
And, repeatedly, I thought to myself, why can't this be what the face (body) of womanhood looks like? Muscles, hips, curves, tanned skin from spending time outside (not a machine), unfussy hairdos, smile lines, crinkly eyes, sandals you could run in. Guilt-free chocolate. All of us assembled in one place to challenge ourselves and our bodies...but happy about it, not hyper-competitive. You got the sense that people were proud of themselves, not feeling inadequate or ugly (well, except maybe for inner monologues during the run). A beautiful thing, to be sure.
Now, I usually prefer a mixed-gender group, but, for a first-timer, I appreciated the supportive environment...newbies, cancer survivors, sinewy veterans, but all chicks. While looking over the transition area, where 1683 bikes were parked with Elmo balloons and chalk greetings ("We're so proud of you, Mom!") marking peoples' spots, my friend observed, "I'll bet Ironman doesn't look like this." Sweet, a little silly.
For three or four hours, no one was worrying if they looked fat or old or boring. It was all about inner (and outer) strength; about being able to go deep inside and pull out the energy needed to finish. How refreshing. I wish it could be like that all the time, for everyone. All "you go, girl" messages, instead of "imagine what you would look like 20 lb.s lighter."
Wouldn't that be nice. I wish, I wish, I wish.
(P.S. If you're toying with the idea of a triathlon, can't recommend enough the site, Tri-Newbies Online for training suggestions, info, workouts, etc. It is a very sane, careful approach to training, with a lot of advice for first-timers. Yoga, of course, is a wonderful complement to it all, both physically and mentally.)