The Nautica Malibu Triathlon was this past weekend, which was officially the fifth race I've worked on; the first four being a part of the Nike Women's race series in Washington D.C., Toronto, and San Francisco twice. Every time that I've worked on these races, I always wonder which is harder, planning the race or actually running the race. Either way, there's months of work leading up to one morning that always flies by. Even when I'm not racing, it's hard not to get caught up in the emotion of the event and I always get this feeling that's best described as jealousy toward the people who are racing right as the gun is about to go off. That energy is something you just can't replicate, and it's the reason people pay hundreds of dollars to do something you technically do for free on your own around the neighborhood.
The last triathlon I raced in was Ironman Couer d'Alene a couple years ago and that was the part that I didn't expect before the race - the overwhelming sense of community and camaraderie that comes with realizing that the thousand of people beside you went through the same crazy journey that led to that day. Throughout my training, I had imagined what race day would feel like a lot, assuming it would be half a day of torture but would feel worth it after I was done. Partway through the swim, I realized I was actually thinking more about how clean and sparkly the blue Idaho lake was and because that distance forces you to keep a slow and steady pace, I wasn't so out of breath that I couldn't chat with other racers throughout the bike. I won't lie and pretend like I was still able to hold a conversation by the time I got to the run, but realizing that I was close to completing something I used to think was impossible made me feel more ecstatic than defeated.
My friend who had raced Couer D'Alene twice before told me it's not unusual for grown men to cry as they cross the finish, because you're in such a state of depletion when the emotion hits, but I found myself laughing like a maniac instead. I was especially enthusiastic about the beauty of the sunset as we drove back to the cabin after the race, to the point that my brother Ryan commented that he felt like he was talking to David from David Goes to the Dentist. It was the ultimate runner's high and there's no way I could have gotten to that state on my own.
The Nautica Malibu Triathlon had an added element of that feeling of working toward something bigger since participants were also fundraising for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. This year, the event raised over $1.2 million for pediatric blood cancer research at CHLA, and a lot of the people racing had been affected by cancer in one way or another. Because of that, the undercurrent of the energy at the beach was a feeling of unity in fighting a very nasty disease.
My role in the event was organizing the celebrity division of the race for the two months leading up to race day. When I worked on the Nike Women's Race Series, I was working with people who are primarily athletes, so this race's crowd felt a little more diverse and eclectic, although they all shared the common thread of agreeing to do a triathlon. We did have a few professional athletes, like Olympic gold medalist swimmers Conor Dwyer and Dave Walters, and NBA player Caron Butler, but we also had actors, news anchors, and even Disney's CEO racing. I thought it was interesting to see how people with different backgrounds leveraged their individual strengths, whether it was a strong social media following to help raise awareness for fundraising efforts, natural athletic ability to help their relay team, or Zac Efron's contribution to making the course more beautiful. ;)
About a month before the race, I visited CHLA with How to Get Away with Murder castmates Jack Falahee, Alfie Enoch, and Karla Souza, where they surprised kids who are currently being treated for cancer. Right away, the three of them jumped into playing make-believe with the kids, jumping on the couch and throwing cushions around their hospital rooms. When I mentioned to Jack that they had a knack for making kids feel comfortable right away, he explained that their job as actors is essentially to play all day, so they were just doing what they know how to do.
Helping the 40-or-so celebrities prepare for their triathlon gave me race envy again, so I signed up to do a sprint next weekend with my friends Megan and Sean. I've also been working on my web design business and finally pulled my website together. I would love it if you would share with the small business owners in your circles! It can be found at at kelseymyersdesign.com.