The Sisterhood of the Traveling Seats

As you may know, I was rudely and intimately acquainted with the horror of the severe saddle sore this fall.  I spent my final weeks of century training riding around feeling like I had a golf ball in my shorts.  (Which reminds me - if you haven't ever seen it, you have to read this graphic but hilarious dissertation on saddle sores over at Fat Cyclist's blog.)  Afterwards, I would sit on donut cushions and lay in the most unthinkably bizarre  positions just to keep from crying.  (Think: giving birth to an alien baby.  Yeah, it was that bad.)
The Cobb V-Flow Plus was my savior.  The seat wasn't exactly new - it came from a good friend and training partner who realized she had a few unused saddles in her garage.  If she had not happened to have 2 unused saddles in her garage, I would never have figured out my situation, and may not been able to complete the century.  And if she hadn't struggled with the same issues during her previous century training, she never would have had the sadlles.  She got rid of something she wasn't using, and I was able to afford good gear.

A couple days ago, she asked if I would return the second saddle that I was not using - she had talked to someone else suffering from the same issues.  Without even thinking twice, I tossed in my
 Specailized Jett saddle.  Although it was 100% the wrong saddle for me - like the Cobb was for my friend - it is still a highly-rated carbon fiber saddle, and I hoped there was a chance someone else could get some use out of it.

Then recently one of the coaches helped to collect some gently used gear for one of the new gals who was, like me, a "starving college student."  We all pitched in and soon we had her set with shoes, a tri outfit, and even some jerseys.

Sometimes people will ask me why do you go out of your way to do extra for others? The answer is simple: I really do believe it comes back to you.  Whether it comes back when your other friend just happens to have a well-cared-for 305 that she wasn't using and your old Polar became inadequate for long runs, or whether it comes back to you in the form of some small happiness in sharing, or whether it comes back to you 20 years down the road in some way you never anticipated - it comes back.  I have made my share of mistakes over the years, but even those I don't hesitate to try and make right. 

It always comes back.

Last year, I was to fortunate to have an amazing mentior with the American Cancer Society's DetermiNation program.  He was a volunteer, but he spent enough time pumping me up that he should have gotten paid.  I'd never done an event with the type of fundraising goals I had for Rock'n'Roll New Orleans, and he kept me from feeling totally overwhelmed.

Alumni of the program this year were asked to be mentors to other athletes training for the 2012 race.  I was beyond excited to accept.  There is nothing quite as exciting as getting someone new involved in my sports and areas of study.  It is so much fun to watch their nervousness, wonder and excitment as they accomplish things they never have (and sometimes thought they never would.)  So I've been a Swim Angel, a tutor for an MBA student in Org Behavior, and now I will be a mentor for the ACS.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (if you hadn't heard of it) is a bestselling novel - now movie - about four young girls who share a pair of magical jeans that seem to fit them all perfectly despite their completely different shapes and sizes.  That's how I feel about getting to do all of these great things I am lucky to do for other athletes and newbies: we are all different sizes and shapes, but we can all find something about swimming, cycling, and running that fits us perfectly - with a little help from the right people.

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