18 July 2012

The Friday Top Five: My Five Least Favorite Things About Triathlon

Ironically, my idea for this top five came while I was out pedaling away on the Musselman course this past weekend. You have a lot of time to think when you are pedaling 56 miles. Do you ever just think about stuff when you are on your bike for a long-ass time and start cracking up? Certain things really annoy me about the sport of triathlon. Least of which is the fact that I am just not very good at it—yet. I have finally discovered that you can only race well at a distance that you have the time to train for. Duh. This has come as quite the revelation for me.

5) Ironman Guy/Girl: You know them. The most annoying Ironman/girl has a tattoo on their ankle/calf/neck (like a member of some notorious Los Angeles street gang). Coincidentally, for some strange reason (or maybe not so strange), I started singing NWA's "Straight Outta' Compton" (kicking it old school) in my head as I was passing people on my bike during the HIM this past weekend. Particularly the part that goes "I'm a bad muthafu**er, and you know it."

But I digress....

Look, you may very well be Ironman Guy/Girl. If you are, I'm sorry... sort of. Ironman is to the triathlon world like the Empire is to the Force. They are the evil corporate monster. I have never competed in an Ironman sanctioned event, and I do not intend on ever giving them my hard earned cash. I encourage my fellow triathletes to vote with your legs and head to another race every season. There is a new cat in town. A kinder, gentler, more awesome race series by the name of REV3. You also know Ironman Guy/Girl because they tell you they've competed in an Ironman. They usually think they are dropping this subtly. You know, something like, "Ugh, I want to have a beer, but I am competing in Ironman two months from now, and I do not want to be dehydrated for my race." They will also wear the M-dot hat/t-shirt/shorts/jersey that they paid a ton of loot for so that everyone will know that they are in fact an Ironman. The coolest thing about wearing my Rev3 visor is I have athletes come up to me all the time asking me which Rev3 races I have done. It starts real conversations. Imagine that!

4) Excuse Guy/Girl: You know these types. They pass you at mile 20 of the bike, hammering like it's the final leg of the Tour de France, or early on in the run thinking they are Craig Alexander or Chrissie Wellington. When you pass them later in the race, they say something like, "Hey! Good job... we've been playing cat and mouse all day. (You think to yourself: "No, we haven't. You've been playing cat and mouse all day. I am out here running my race, homeslice). Then, they say it... "Yeah, I am just out here for a training ride/run/HIM. I have an Ironman coming up in September." GIVE ME A BREAK, DUDE! It is funny how they are just out there for a "training ride" when you finally run back into them  near the end of a ride or run. When I perform poorly at a race, I own up to it.

This is what you look like, aero-helmet guy.
3) Disc Wheel/Aero Helmet Guy: My feeling about aero helmet/disc wheel guy is that I better not pass you with my non-aero wheels and my regular biking helmet on the course. Look, I have an aero helmet, and I have worn it at REV3 Full Cedar Point—twice—but I am not wearing one in a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. That just screams "newbie."For some reason the sound of a disc wheel drives me crazy.

2) Cat and Mouse—But Obviously Can Not Keep Up With You Because I Do Not Hold A Steady Pace—Guy/Girl:

These people are SO annoying. This past weekend I was racing and some woman flew by me smoking fast. Less than ten minutes later I look up and see her and a bunch of other people who flew by me earlier. As I pass them, I know they see my REV3 kit and recognize me. So, what do they do when I pass them? Their fragile egos can not handle being passed by someone that they once passed, so they speed up and start motoring. They use every bit of energy trying to keep up instead of just sticking to their race plan and pace. Look, I'm okay with this. These people usually bonk at the tail end of their ride, or when they begin the run. Thank you! If you are this person... YES! I am racing you, but I do not care to play cat and mouse over 56 miles. If you are faster than me, good for you. If you are using every last ounce of energy trying to keep up with me, you need to enroll in some sort of self-help program to work on your self-esteem issues.

1) Elitism: For years, I have had a big problem with the exclusivity of triathlon. Nothing screams "I am a privileged upper-middle class white person" like the sport of triathlon. You might not like it, but it is difficult to disagree with me. I have certainly seen more people of color competing in triathlon, but the majority of the participants are white. I would really like to see someone start a program to bring the multisport lifestyle into the inner cities and provide opportunities for inner-city youth to train and compete. Am I crazy? I feel like I have to do something to make this sport—the sport that I love—more accessible to more people.

That's all I  got. Train Smart!


JFord said...

I totally agree with you on the IM tatt and running in non IM brand races!!

RockStarTri said...

I don't believe in tatts. As Jimmy Buffet says, "it is a permanent reminder of a temporary feeling." I can't understand the obvious corporate logo side of it either and the mystery of people who put the mdot tatt after finishing revCP or B2B is beyond me.

IM do, however, put on a quality event although overhead is high. If I do another, it'll probably be IM brand.

The elitism point is interesting. The whole getting youth involved in multisport is challenging - even kids with desire have little opportunity.

Maggie said...

"Ugh, I want to have a beer, but I am competing in Ironman two months from now, and I do not want to be dehydrated for my race." hahahaha

And I absolutely love my Rev visor too - get so many questions about it whenever I wear it about!

Kelly Covert said...

Holy cow, you have been blogging like crazy! I finally caught up! congrats on the PR, love the list about things you have learned from being married, and I still can't believe you did that MTB race the week of your HIM! Crazy!!

Jeff Irvin said...

Pretty funny Mark! Always love the Mdot tat debate.

"Nothing screams "I am a privileged upper-middle class white person" like the sport of triathlon."

Triathlon is on the list but ranked below many other sports:

Water Polo
Baseball haha!

We could go on and on ...


I'm old school...
No tats but really only one Ironman in my book and that is Ironman
And yes, they have $1500 of mine for the upcoming NYC.... but it's New York, baby!!

Kiersten said...

"These are not the triathletes you are looking for" :)

Mark said...

Jeff, first of all, Yachting and Lacrosse are not even real sports. True, lacrosse does have a lot of running around, but it mostly for upper-middle class, uncoordinated white kids.

Baseball IS the ultimate sport, Jeff. No CLOCK!

Eric said...

Nice Post...I have never considered the tat, mostly since the majority that I see on people are horribly, horribly done.

Elitist? Not in the 80's when I started, but trending sharply that way.

Heather said...

Enjoy your writing. I hoping to do more tris and struggle with the balance of marriage, 4 kids and my time to train.

Would you talk more about the cat/mouse thing. I'm a relative newbie to this and can't figure out the etiquette of passing in a race. I don't race "steady" because I don't have a power meter. I'm learning and I race how I feel. Am I not supposed to pass someone on a downhill when I know they'll just pass me on the next uphill. (working on my climbing skills- but it takes time!) Do I sit behnd them and ride my brakes?
Why do I have to ride "steady" if that isn't what is comfortable to me.
I have the same questions about the run. This past weekend I did an olympic distance but had some stomach issues (kids had been sick all week.) If I stop to vomit am I not allowed to pass the people who passed me when I stopped? Even if I know I'm going to have to stop and barf again later?

I don't know anyone I can ask these questions! Thanks

Hostpph said...

I have to admit that those tattoo looks great. I would love to get one like that.

Christopher Powell said...

I'm an upper middle class white guy with an aero helmet and an M-Dot tattoo. I guess I'm just a blemish on society..... Or do I have to get an aero wheel for that?