Our flight back to Iowa leaves in about two hours on this cool Sunday afternoon. The weather back home is finally cooperating with the seasons as the temperature reads 70 degrees, but I have an exams this coming week and the transition back to real life will be a tough one. Let’s call it T3.
I will do a race report on my own time. No one cares just how much I hated the swim or how fast I took a corner on the bike. We all knew it was hot and the bike course might have been a little short. The race was a swim, bike and run of the same distances we are all used to. It was not the race itself to reflect on, but the people we raced against and the championship environment that was really just a bunch of college kids having a good time.
I spent my night before the race teaching the ladies of Northern Arizona University how to do a flying mount on the synthetic grass outside our hotel room. A few of us partook in strange motions with a foam roller before I headed up to the room to take razor in hand and shave into my facial hair what would embody the identity of “Mustache Man” for the remainder of the weekend. Members of the University of Illinois club were also having a shaving party so they were happy to comply when I approached them asking, “Do you want to shave my head?” I figured if I didn’t make the podium I might as well attempt to be memorable in my own unique way.
I find that the “Most Spirited” award is severely underrated. School spirit is unique to each individual institution and it is steeped in the livelihood and energy of the Collegiate National Championships. There are not many opportunities outside these few years of our lives that it is acceptable to sing songs in capes and Trojan helmets.
I am a proud student of the University of Iowa, but I will be the first to say that I find our Hawkeye cheers to be somewhat below par. Outside of simply yelling “Iowa!” throughout the weekend, I think our only Hawkeye spirited encouragement came from a song about drinking beer.
Still, this fact did not stop me from partaking in the school spirit of everyone around us. The University of Illinois might even claim I was their most spirited cheer section as I yelled “I-L-L” every time I saw the orange and blue only to be responded with a resounding “I-N-I”. Wisconsin Badgers rarely passed without receiving a “Go Big Red!” from the Mustache Man. Sure, I want to go faster than everyone else, but I still want everyone to reach their own limits. If that means yelling a few words in my race or yours, I think I can manage that. I may have even spared a couple race day chants for our friends over at Iowa State.
It’s not crazy to say that I made some friends through the weekend. I was lucky and surprised to see the girl from Colorado State that I met at the race in 2012 and developed a bit of a crush on. I met the enthusiastic sorority sisters of my friend from high school. But it is a short time to develop relationships with students that live thousands of miles away, not knowing when you might see them next. Facebook friends perhaps, but phone numbers and contact information was not exchanged. Between two days full of racing and the rest of the time spent getting ready for racing, there was little time left for open socializing or icebreakers despite the strange public forum that a kiddie pool filled with ice can provide.
I find that I can match more faces to schools than to actual names. Yet even something so little as a nod and a smile walking through the expo ensures the idea that there are like-minded students all across the country that would be happy to host the crazy Iowan if I ever found myself on their campus. At the very least, I’ll be seeing nearly everyone in a very short year from now back in Tempe, Arizona. Until then, we will swim, bike, run and study as we continue to live the unique college life of a triathlete to prepare for the unique event that is Collegiate Nationals.