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.