NP_CHI Co-leaders get pumped during Brendan’s first Olympic tri.

This weekend marked the 33rd time the waters, roads and paths of Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline filled with athletes of all shapes, sizes, abilities, and ages to accomplish one singular yet bi-pronged goal: to compete and complete a triathlon. Some were there to improve a past time, others gave their all at a new distance, and another group simply wanted no more than to get to the finish line and say that they had done so. Our tribesmembers of NP_CHI were there in full force, in each category. Whether testing their physical limits, or cheering to embarrassment, the tribe was strong. Our tribe left it all out there. We braved cold water. We recorded hot times. We supported each other. We pushed ourselves. We rose early and stayed long. We tried. And we tri-ed. We succeeded.

A triathlon, like a marathon, is just as much a test of mental strength as physical endurance. Training requires months of commitment. It garners questions and concerns from non-competitors as to the sanity of the individual: Are you sure you can do that? That’s a long way. Have you trained enough?

And sure, these events are a challenge. That’s why they are so honored. And why the finishers gain such a sense of accomplishment at completion. It’s because they have accomplished something. Something big. Something for themselves… and something beyond themselves, too. Standing at the start line, the mental psych-out began. Standing along the sidelines, the psych-up spread. Standing at the finish line, smiles and pride pervaded all stiffness, sunburn, and fatigue. Athletes re-discovered themselves. Spectators appropriately questioned if that could be them someday, too.

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Mitch crushed the big boy division.
Emily dominated her triathlon, as always. 












Talking with tribesmembers before each advancing start wave, the tone was both of nerves and excitement. Others who were to compete jokingly tried to quell the nerves of each other, while simultaneously hoping to convince themselves to the same effect. “The water is so cold!” “I have a hard enough time running that far … never mind swimming and then biking before!” – – “You’re ready.” “Turn on that #beastmode.” “Fuck Yeah.”

Talking with tribesmembers after the race, the tone was of relief and accomplishment. The try-ers became doers. The goals became fulfilled. “Whew, I’m tired.” “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” — “You friggen killed it!” “You looked so strong!” “You did it!”

It was a powerful thing to see the progression of the tribe throughout the past few months; competitors signed up for this in the dead of winter. While it is one thing to create a goal, it is entirely another thing to work towards it to full realization. The outcome is even better still when you have your peers standing beside you, shouting their hearts out, wishing you well when even you have doubts of your ability. It’s that second wind. It’s the third. The fourth.

This weekend was a reminded of the power of the tribe. A reminder of the movement. We strengthened our community. And got others talking about us and our crazy, positive energy. Competitors became qualifiers. Desk jockeys became triathletes. Athletes became accomplished. Spectators became inspired.

The Divvy wave brought out first-time competitors and seasoned triathletes alike. We even had two podium finishers!

It also served as a timely reminder. Whether it’s a triathlon, or your first steps out to the pavement, you hold the power to make a change in your life. You have the power to improve yourself. You can become fit, both in body and in mind. It does not matter your size, your shape, your ability, or your age. It won’t always be easy, but with the tribe alongside you, it will be supported and fun. We’ll get you to that finish line, whatever or wherever it may be. And we’ll do it together. This is your invitation. All you have to do is… #Justshowup.

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