I've read/heard comments here and there about the fact that I took longer than 17 hours to finish Ironman Louisville.
I've heard/read about how lucky I was that the cutoff was extended because of the change in the swim start. I've been asked about whether or not it "counts" as an official finish.
I'm not angry about it, or hurt. I've been thinking about it. I wanted to collect my thoughts into a coherent assemblage of utterances to explain what it means that I "almost didn't finish."
About what it means to be, most of the time, last or nearly last, and why it is
meaningless.I like this T-shirt, n
ot just for me. It sums up part of how I feel
...about my first Olympic distance, in which I was also DFL.
...about my first half iron, in which, I believe, I was nearly DFL.
I did this triathlon with a bunch of friends and, of course, Sweet Baboo. I was also lucky enough to have some in-house cheerleaders and of course, a lot of support and cheering going on in Blogland, which still humbles and amazes me.(That's Sweet Baboo, Me, and my fabulous mother-in-law and her husband Gordon in the top photo, right, the day before the race, in Louisville. In second photo, is Me and Sweet Baboo, and Mary Sunshine, and Dying Water Buffalo)
Some of my Albuquerque friends are fast. CRAZY. Fast. There is a picture of all of us on a previous post below, entitled, "Run, part 2" Did you know?
Ironman started in 1978 as a wager between friends about which one was the most fit: a swimmer, a cyclist, and a runner. In 1982, because the Kona race had attracted so many participants, the first cutoff time was introduced, 18 1/2 hours.
Ironman.com does not give a reason for this time having been chosen, such as lactic thresholds or research or such.
The following year, it was changed to 17 hours. No reason. It is what it is.They can't let it go on forever, right? I mean, the volunteers have to go home some time.
There are some smaller iron-distance races in the US that don't have this type of cutoff system.
But there it is.
I've discovered that each person who does a triathlon, whether it's a sprint or a long course, has a different demon facing them when they step or jump or run into the water.
For some, it's the voices in their head that say they aren't good enough,
they want to silence those voices.
For others, it's more tangible: they need a goal for exercising.
Some beat back the ghosts: failures, "errors of judgement", bad decisions, guilty pleas - whatever..."Each step or mile is like a giant eraser"
that cancels out those mistakes. John "The Penguin" Bingham said that.
Some just like doing something that most people find very hard to do. every single amateur or pro, whether they are fast or slow, will head into the same river, lake, ocean, inland sea or pool, and face their demons.
and every one of them is nervous.
They may not look it, but each hopes they trained hard enough and that they'll meet whatever goals they have...when they face the river, lake, ocean, inland sea, or pool...
and most feel that they are unique in that respect.
As for me, I'll tell you a secret: according to my training times, I should not have been able to finish any long course triathlon I've ever attempted.
And yet, well... here I am. Proof that stubbornness trumps speed in many cases.
And so it was, at Louisville, we all went into the same river, toward the same same sunrise, and swam the same distance.
Then we pedaled the same bike distance, on the same road, cursing the same hills. Laughed at the same weird guy dressed like a devil. Smiled at the same folks in LaGrange going crazy with cowbells and yelling. Couldn't wait
to get off the bike.
Then we all ran the same 26.2 miles. Throughout the race, we all followed the same rules, and ran, or walked, and sweated (and sometimes vomited) our guts out... and then crossed the same finish line.
Yes, some of us did it faster. But we all did the same distance
and the heavier, slower ones? Probably expended more
So, who is the better athlete? The ones for whom covering the distance is easy, or the ones for whom it is hard?What does it mean to be a triathlete?
Because if all it means is fast
, then I've greatly misunderstood the whole thing.
I thought it was about challenging myself, seeing how I could make my body go, go, go!
when it really
wanted to stop, stop, stop!
I thought it was about the feeling of accomplishment, and the fun.
So, as I said, my friends are all faster than me....
- Ricky V, finished in 12:53.
- Miquel, "Sharkbait" finished just a hair over 13 hours.
- Mark, "Bones" finished about 13 minutes later.
- Mike, "Wiz" finished in a little over 14 hours.
- Mary Sunshine finished some time before Baboo.
- Dying Water Buffalo finished in 16:17.
- Sweet Baboo finished in 15:35. And then he waited...and waited...and waited.
My time was 17:19.
Pirate had the best thing to say about this:
"You know what they call the last person to cross the finish the line in an Ironman triathlon?"
"They call that person an Ironman."
(BTW, I HATE this picture. I thought my arms were higher up in the air than that. and I should have kept my hat on.
Is that why some of you guys shave your head? So you look good for the photos? It is, isn't it? )
So if you've ever DFL'd, repeat this to yourself:
YOU COVERED, OR WILL COVER, THE SAME DISTANCE AS THE FASTER ATHLETES. That doesn't make you lesser. It may even make you greater.
Besides, who's to say I might not have moved a little faster if the cutoff had been midnight? I've finished every single race I've ever started that had a cutoff, even when I wasn't sure that I would start or not.
So, if you are still wondering if you "should" try to do that race or not, the answer is, well, you should.
Refuse to give up. Refuse to listen to the person or persons who fill your head with worry, doubt, or fear, no matter how much you love them and respect them, unless they have an MD. This is your race, not theirs.
This advice is especially important if the fear-monger in your head is YOU.
It won't be that I won or lost a few races that stays with me. It will be that I tried even though I was utterly terrified. (Oh, yes I was! I avoided buying a very pretty Louisville Ironman Bike jersey the day before the race because I still wasn't sure if I'd finish it or not.)
I like a little fun competition now and then, don't get me wrong. But it has to be fun, not all-consuming. As amateur athletes, what else are we doing this for, if not fun?
I mean, why are you doing this, anyway? Is it to be the fastest? I've got news for you. There is always someone faster. And if there isn't now, you'll still be looking over your shoulder in case there is. Or, are you doing this to finish? Then it doesn't matter where your place is. Statistically speaking, those that are considered "experts" in any field in which expertise can be claimed are within the top 2%. Sometimes less. The other 98% will finish after them.
So, let it go, man. Sign up for that race.
Oh, you, yes you, know the one I'm talking about.
Hell, you've been staring at the race website on and off for weeks.
Quit worrying about whether you'll do it "well" and just do it. If you don't meet your goal, well, you'll learn something, and you'll meet it another time.