What counts in sports is not the victory, but the magnificence of the struggle. — Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach
I hobbled out of the stadium into the athletes’ tent to retrieve my after-race bag, and changed immediately into a dry Mizuno sports top, my Endure shirt, and Zensah compression tights. I had another pair of Wave Sayonara shoes to change into, but my feet were so waterlogged I needed to dry them out in flipflops. The pain I’d experienced throughout the race had been a dull one in the background, drowned out by the flow of adrenaline through my veins. But now I could feel every little bit of soreness not just from my gaping wounds, but also from my beaten-up muscles. I could barely lift my arms to slip into my top, and nearly fell over trying to get into the compression tights. I also knew I needed to eat something, but just a small bowl of the vegetable quinoa porridge they were serving and I was done.
After my wonderful welcome to the finish line and seeing familiar and friendly faces, the stark reality in the athletes’ tent was I was by myself, couldn’t find anyone I knew to sit and have a chat about the race with, and couldn’t move around to look for anyone. It was then I missed the close-knit Philippine triathlon community. I also didn’t have a data connection so I couldn’t get any word out about how I was, even though I knew my friends and family had been following the race over the live results site.
I hate to admit it but I felt alone and empty. Is this all there is? I wondered. Fourteen hours of pain for one magical moment at the finish line? It just didn’t seem worth it.