On July 8 I am going to willingly jump into the Hudson River. It gets worse, I’m going to get up before dawn, pour myself into a wetsuit (in JULY, remember), and jump into the Hudson River with 2999 other New Yorkers for the first leg of the New York Triathlon: swimming 1500 meters in open water.
For anyone trying to imagine how far 1500 meters is, here’s a couple of comparables: Olympic pools are 50 meters long; most pools at gyms I can afford in Manhattan are 25 meters long. Those 30 lengths in the pool at the YMCA (west side, what what) take me about an hour to swim. It’s a heck of a way to start a morning, especially when it’s the Hudson River. But I’m doing it in just over six weeks to raise money for a nonprofit called Camp Interactive.
(Oh yeah, after the glorious swim comes a 40k bike ride up and down the west side of Manhattan, followed by a 10k run in Central Park. All in all it should take me about 3-3.5 hours to complete, depending on transitions and heat and how much I want to get to brunch… trust me: those little nutritional gel packs are disgusting.)
I’m joining with a team of 9 other guys and gals from the New York Tech community to raise money for Camp Interactive because it’s an amazing organization with a dual mission: to get kids back into the great outdoors for physical activity and inspiration, and to teach them technology skills, giving them a creative outlet now and a leg up on career possibilities in the future.
As someone who has been tremendously impacted in my 20s by both athletics and technology, I am a huge supporter of exposing kids to these things as early as possible.
True story: I haven’t always been an athlete. Between classical piano, cello, voice, orchestra, choir, musical theater, and opera, I spent most of my childhood in rehearsal halls and practice studios. I briefly flirted with sports in middle-school with a half-hearted attempt at soccer and basketball, but I was a fat kid who couldn’t run 1/4 mile without wheezing like an asthmatic, so everyone patted me on the head and said, don’t worry, it’s just not your thing. They told me I wasn’t athletic or pretty, but I was musically gifted and damn smart so I should focus on that and not worry about it. And I believed them.
I never ran a mile until I was 25.
That was two months before I climbed Kilimanjaro, and about a year before I finished my first half-marathon. Turns out the key to running 13.1 miles is to train for it. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t athletic on my first day of soccer practice – it only mattered that I showed up for the second day of practice, and the third. But I didn’t know that; when people rationalized my weaknesses, I believed that was all there was.
A friend forwarded on an article last week that explains the problem: “bright girls believe their abilities are innate and unchangeable, while bright boys believe they can develop ability to effort and practice.”
I want nothing more than for this to change. So I’m doing everything I can to support organizations like Camp Interactive to show girls that they can be athletic, and they can be good at technology, and really they can do anything they set their minds to as long as they are willing to keep practicing.
If you feel the same way, I’d love your help to raise $5,000 by July 8. Click here to donate.