Saturday, October 14, 2006

Avoiding the Hype

Maybe I am overly sensitive to information on Ironman races, but it seems like their popularity and hype has gone off the charts. The World Triathlon Corporation just announced a new race in Louisville, Kentucky, 2007 races like Canada, Wisconsin and Coeur D'Alene sold out in minutes and Kyndra and Tyler are even thinking of doing one. (shameless Laguna Beach plug).

After I did Lake Placid I was super pumped to do another Ironman realsoon but now I don't know. I can't decide how I feel about Ironman-branded races.

The positives
1) Successfully swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 and running (well, sort of) is incredibly rewarding, especially after you dedicate lots of time to training and abandon friends and fun.

2) Ironman Lake Placid was a great experience because I got to share it with my family. Physical challenges not only bring out strength and committment, they also bring out fear and uncertainty, which opens you up emotionally as a person.

3) Human beings grow only when they are chasing a goal. It can be knitting a sweater, meditating for an hour straight, discovering the background of your 18th century Bohemian relative or breaking 12 hours for an Ironman. Goals brings a purpose to relatively random daily acts.

The negatives
1) With the ridiculous popularity of Ironman races, the individuality of the challenge is disappearing. As a 41-year old white male working in the tech industry in the Bay area, it is almost required by law that I participate in endurance sports. We are all turning into sheep, spouting the same platitudes about discovering our inner chi through training, appreciating changes in seasons, blah, blah, blah. I mean how many Ironman bloggers do there need to be, either listings workouts down to the minute detail or railing against imaginary critics when they don't finish a race and feel their experience might be perceived as diminished. Obviously I am one of the guilty ones.

2) I feel like we are all trying to buy meaning in our lives. Pay $20,000 and hike in Nepal, pay $5,000 for entry fees, coaching, travel and equipment and do an Ironman. It's adventure in a can. Are we all becoming Sandy Hill Pittmans.

3) Spending 15 hours or more a week exercising is a great way to avoid facing bigger issues in your life. If my abs are rock hard or I successfully completed the hard workout this week, then I don't have to feel bad when I don't have control on the more important parts of my life. How is this different than drug addiction?

Strangely I don't feel at conflict when it comes to running. This is because so many people have done at least a half marathon that it is not viewed as a big deal anymore. Which is good. Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment for anyone, yet these people do not parade around with the same tude that Ironpeople do.

Running is more the sport of the people, Ironman of the elite. And I'd rather be a man of the people anyday. Albeit, one who has done Ironman.


The Spandex-King said...

you pretty much nailed it

Spokane Al said...

While I appreciate your thoughts, I think many of us continue to train for, or hope to compete in an IM someday for the pure goal of wanting to excel and achieve. We do have a handle on personal stuff and use the IM as a means to accomplish something that we consider to be a bit bigger than life, and perhaps just beyond the norm of our meager human capabilities (much like many do in the marathon.

I believe that most of us are not particularly interested in the flavor of the month or what is hip - perhaps you, with your location in the Bay area which to some is the center of hipness, USA are more in tune to this issue than those of us in the hinterlands.

I also recall when running became the end all and be all and the over-used, over-analyzed in-subject back in the late 70s. I suspect that IM, if it truly falls in that category today, will, at some point, move a bit towards the back burners of party conversation.

Meanwhile, I believe that blogs offer many the chance to write and expound and use our brain power to construct solid, interesting, entertaining lines of thoughts. And when we stop doing that, the readers will vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

P.S. Actually the IM CDA takes between two weeks and a month to fill up. Last year was closer to the later, and this year was closer to the former.

Spokane Al said...

When discussing IM CDA filling up what I meant to say was that IM CDA 2006 filled up in about a month and IM CDA 2007 filled up in approximately two weeks.

So if one is looking for an IM that can be entered in a bit more leisurely manner, he/she would do well to consider CDA.