Wednesday, April 20, 2011

for the love of triathlon

for the last few weeks i have been quite conflicted about triathlon and what i want from it or what my expectations are.  this was because something did happen that i wasnt happy about and for awhile i felt kinda betrayed and let down.  but how can i be betrayed if the situation wasnt clearly defined or each person had different goals or expectations from the beginning anyway ?  and so while i pretend to work at work i came across this post that seemed to convey some of the same sense of conflict.

'so, as i reflect on this sport that has been a part of my life for the last 7 years...i'm beginning to ask the question: "what is this really about?" running, cycling and swimming is the easy answer. the enjoyment of setting personal goals, however lofty or simplistic they may be - and working towards those goals with excitement, passion, commitment and effort is another answer. the desire to be fit maybe - to get in better shape and have "something" such as a race to work towards. maybe it's a social reason - hanging out with friends and meeting new people while doing an activity that is healthy, fun, and competitive. and furthermore, maybe for a select few, it's all about the chance they'll qualify for a special race, get sponsored, turn pro, or win a prize. i suppose these are all good, and very personal, reasons to do "tris."

of late, however, i've noticed a change in the landscape. the tri community has become overwhelmingly concerned with gear, power, weight savings, customization, shaving seconds, body image, bike pricetag, and everything else 'semi-superficial' and materialistic that fits into these categories. don't get me wrong - there's a place for bikes, shoes, clothing, helmets, wheels, watches, races, competition and caring for your body...but are things getting out of hand? are most of us, especially those that don't make a living at this, spending way too much time surfing the web and shops for articles and the next gear trend? are we so consumed with our 'sport' that we've perverted the purity with which this sport, and its individual elements, were created and sustained for so long; and just turned it into our fad and hobby? as i rode the IMTX course this past weekend, i was inundated with fake and nauseating conversations about people's heart rate, mile splits, bike upgrades, next purchases, race schedules, food habits, jealousy, etc. i really just wanted to enjoy fellow athletes company, push each other to train a little harder, talk about life (and things that truly matter), and ride the course. i'm sure some of the good stuff happened, but it was sparse to say the least'.

do i agree with this point of view ?  i think if someone believes that the equipment is going to help them achieve their goals and they have the money to do it then that is their choice.  basically everything comes back to what motivates you to be a part of the triathlon community.  something has to make you want to get out there and do the training.  for me it is the challenge and the enjoyment of setting personal goals  and working towards those goals with excitement, passion, commitment and effort (bit of plagiarism  there but that describes perfectly how i feel).  if i decide that a better bike is going to help me do that (rather than hard work) then that is my choice.  and anyway i have always confessed to my love of mr garmin as well as being a girl who loves to shop her passion.  the pursuit of the latest and greatest gear doesnt bother me as much as the person who wants to win at any cost or that it is all just about the winning.  this is not why i do it and so being pushed into that environment makes me unhappy and uncomfortable.  i am not saying it is wrong if that is your motivating factor.  i am just saying that i dont want to be a part of it.  the only person i want to compete against is myself.  and this expectation is just as personal as the writer above who wanted his experience to be more about your 'fellow athletes company, to push each other to train a little harder and to talk about life (and things that truly matter) and to ride the course'.  i have to agree with this and would seek out this environment anyday rather than one that focused on the 'bling' and the 'winning'.
i read the following comment and it really summed up how i want to feel come race day  - you are never better than yourself, so be the best you can be, both mentally and physically on race day.  treat the day like a celebration of all the hard work and sacrifice and you can't go wrong.

have a great easter. 

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