I was fortunate enough to attend the Nation’s Triathlon this morning in Washington, DC. It was an amazing experience just sitting on the sidelines and cheering on the participants. I absolutely love people-watching, not in a creepy, voyeuristic way, but in a let’s-learn-something-from-everyone-we-meet sort of way.
The biggest thing I felt as I was looking on in awe and admiration of these triathletes was how much everyone was motivated by them and how much all the onlookers supported the participants even if they didn’t know them.
- Motivation is contagious: Just how willpower is contagious – if someone in your group of friends or your family becomes obese, it increases your likelihood of becoming obese as well – so is motivation. At events like this where everyone is aligned around challenging themselves rather than competing with one another, the motivation is palpable.
I experienced small children and older, out-of-shape folks as well trying to run or bike alongside the participants, using the participants as motivation to complete their own exercise for the day. The onlookers feel they may not be capable of completing an entire triathlon but even if they can do a small leg of the run or bike path, that they were somehow connected to the event. And they just turned to their left and saw all these triathletes in the center of the road and connected to an instant source of motivation, on such a subconscious level, that they didn’t even know it was happening. They could see participants of all ages and athletic abilities and wealth/backgrounds all on the same level, just challenging themselves to do something this difficult. The motivation just rubbed off on them and they liked the way it made them feel.
- Appreciation and support for people you don’t even know keeps everyone strong: It’s easy to yell and cheer for the one or two people in the triathlon that you know but I met so many supporters cheering on the rest of the participants that they didn’t know as well. I wondered how they could selflessly cheer others on without any vested interest in them or whether they finished the triathlon or not. First, they have an appreciation for how difficult it is to do something like this: a 1.5k swim, 40k bike, and 10k run is no joke. That makes it easy to yell things like, “You’re my hero! You can do it!” or “You look so strong! Keep it up! This is your race!” Many of the onlookers want to participate in the triathlon next year so they fully appreciate how difficult it must be to sign up and make sure you show up and take part.
Or they just have tried to do one of the 3 parts to perfection and they know how hard it is to do just one thing, that it builds the respect and appreciation for those who can do all 3. This pure respect and admiration just bubbles out and you can’t help but to say supportive things like this. For those of you like myself who may not be able to relate, I likened it to how I have respect and admiration for some of my favorite authors and scientists that I end up tweeting once I’ve read their work. And so they have decided to learn this one trait of endurance or perseverance from the participants in the race. You pick up the one or two good traits from everyone you meet and that’s how you build your own personal repertoire of positive traits. If you find someone with all the positive traits you want, then you completely dedicate yourself to learning from that individual.
- Washington, DC provides an awesome, serene atmosphere: There are so many things to do and see here. I spent yesterday at the Newseum, where I was forced to think about how integrated into my life the news media has become and how important a part of it the news actually is. Today we’re sitting on the Potomac River by the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, in such a historic yet peaceful and calm setting, just able to introspect and think and be motivated. Everyone’s having a great time, despite the physical exhaustion. They’ve plugged into an energy source larger than themselves and they’re recharging from it and we’re recharging from them and from the entire environment and experience.