26 December 2009

Thought and Updates: Kona and Holidaze

I think part of what "veteran" triathletes—and perhaps I am just projecting here—find so attractive about racing is how our minds adapt to overcome what our bodies tell us should not be possible. I am a much stronger, faster, SMARTER athlete now, than I was a decade ago (not a smarter human being, mind you. I am still incredibly dumb when it comes to human interaction on almost every level and I do not think it would be an understatement to call myself incredibly socially awkward.) I think the most attractive part of racing triathlon is actually the mental toughness and endurance that are needed to train, compete, and somehow find the fortitude to trudge on. There are times for all of us when we could just as easily try to justify one of a hundred reasons to wave the white flag out there on a course, but we keep moving. I believe—and I may be in the minority here—that the most disgraceful act a professional triathletes does is not finishing a race because they do not think they are going to have a top ten finish that day. I am glad Normann Stadler realized what an incredibly disrespectful act that would have been when he did not have it dialed in on the run this year at the Ford Ironman World Championships. He basically acknowledged the fact that it would have been incredibly disrespectful to undermine the history of the sport, the sacrifice and dedication of all the age group athletes that worked tirelessly to even give themselves a chance to race on the Big Island, and the their fellow professional athletes who out there finishing despite of what type of race they are having that day. His attitude was really quite refreshing. Now I know I will have some people say, 'Look, they are professional athletes, if they don't have it dialed in that day, they risk an injury that might keep them out for the rest of the season, a substantial payday, etc.' Fine, point taken. I am pretty sure that Normann Stadler on his worst day could walk the marathon, slowly, and be done hours before me. I would venture to guess that Stadler might even be able to ride a unicycle and still beat me on the bike. I am not sure how comfortable he would be after that, but you get my point here.

Okay, the holidaze are past me now. I consumed enough lamb on Christmas to raise the GNP of New Zealand to unprecedented new heights. I even feel sluggish from just getting together with our families. I love getting together with family, but I get really antsy sitting and eating and drinking for hours straight. It might as well be the gluttony triathlon. Sitting, eating, drinking. Nice! Perhaps you could do it by percentage of weight gained over the course of three hours.

Okay, back in the pool for a nice 3500 yard refresher in the morning, followed by a run.

T- a few days 'till 3 January and the official start of Ironman training. I'm scared. Real scared. WHen I look for comfort from veteran IM'ers, they all say, "Welcome to your new part-time job." Wonderful! I don't have nearly enough to do!

I went out for a 10K with Vanessa after a 1000 yard swim this week. I think she has found new respect for triathletes. She told me it was a lot more difficult running after that swim. No kidding? She qualified for Boston. She is still my hero.

Between the months of May and September I hardly wear shirts when I am not at work. Friends who see race pictures of me often ask me if I own shirts. It's the bloody narcissism.


Medievalist86 said...

Thanks buddy. I suppose heroes have mutual admiration for one another! Hopefully we'll be able to work out again this week! I might be traveling tomorrow and Tuesday, but I'll give you a call and we'll work something out.

Kelly said...

Two things:

1. I find it interesting that you think you are socially awkward. I totally disagree. You have an uncanny ability to make everyone feel comfortable and liked, if you ask me.

2. Do you have any pictures of yourself with shirts on?

Mark said...

Yes! Let's get out there for a run soon Vanessa. I think I might have to go for a run today. It is beautiful out.

Mark said...

Kelly, I might have some pictures from pre-2000 where I am wearing a shirt. I will try to find one and post it.

Julie said...

I agree with the first comment from Kelly. Mark, I would never think of you as socially awkward.