When it comes to most popular sports, I really fail to understand the basics
...are those shiny pants for looks or are they performance enhancing? (football)
...what percentage of this game is standing around? (baseball)
...so you’re saying that you can’t run without dribbling the ball, except it’s a pretty slack rule so you can sometimes do it especially if you’re a star player? (basketball)
...why is that fit man rolling around and crying? (soccer)
...ok so that team just scored a point but it doesn’t count because that player fell over, that one raised his stick too high, that one threw his glove, and that one was over there too long? And this is going to be disputed and then resolved with a penalty-shot-free-throw-shoot-out-dance-fight-staring-contest? (every sport)
But now and then the world makes sense to me again because I find a sport with rules that so beautifully simple like “whoever get there first wins.” Music to my ears. There are some variations - whoever gets their first swimming/biking/running/skiing/rowing, etc. wins - but still...
Last weekend I was in California for a Ironman 70.3 Oceanside doing a whoever gets there first sport with the whoever gets there first people, MY people and I felt so at home. We all got it. It’s a race, safe for a few rules, it's self-explanatory.
While the sport is straightforward, there is so much behind getting there.
Here's my experience of getting on this startline
It feels comicl, even now to say I did a half-ironman a week ago while it's barely mid-April. This is usually the time of year, I remember that what I do every day is to eventually race a triathlon but some distant unnamed in some distance unnamed time (June). It certainly expanded my Raincouver perspective of when race season starts. Zipping of my unitard and wetsuit in the wee hours of the morning, slowly looking around meeting the eyes of other athletes doing the same, thinking "are we really doing this today?"
We really were.
- Getting to actually do a race - Vancouver has had quite the dark wet winter so being in the sun, feeling the self-imposed discomfort of a race was just awesome.
- The transition zone was enormous! My buddy Cogger and I were chatting while walking through transition the day before, lost track of what we were doing and then came back to realize we were still walking through transition. That's big.
- Everything was enormous. Every grocery store and restaurant was amazing and the portions were wonderfully huge. Sometimes I worry that I'm not going to get as big enough salad....donut....burrito but NEVER in America..
- The swim was a rolling start – such a smart solution to get 3500 people of varying speeds in to the same body of water. I’m used to age-group wave starts where my age-group is somehow always second to last and then I have to swim, bike, run through everyone else for the rest of the day and I think it’s annoying. Definitely a first world problem, I know.
- Eating clif blocs on the bike – that shit is like candy and I love candy.
- Biking through an army base
- Running Oceanside – literally beside the ocean with Palm trees all around
- Placing in my AG and getting my Ironman 70.3 world championship spot in….wait for it….. Tennessee! Again, this race felt early and although I’m feeling fit, I wasn’t sure if I was sharpened to the exact point of race fit.
- Racing traveling with friends! There is sport travel and then there is sports travel with the people you know and love. Completely different experience.
- Lee running the Carlsbad 5000 the day after the 70.3. I attempted the warm-up and but stopped because my toes protested. Regardless it was a cool event and I was more than happy to be on the sidelines.
- On the bike, I felt like I was working hard. It felt actually harder than I expected it to for the first 50km. Cycling is the sport I most want to improve in, so it was nice to be a little quicker than some of my previous events and if I’m being honest, despite what everyone said about the course I was secretly expecting to be monstrously faster.
- I exploded on the run… not to the extent that I walked but I started the run, expecting to run close to a 1:30 half-marathon. It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility and I started at that pace and the I left that pace for slower and slower paces and ended at 1:38
- I got burned. Despite SPF 70, I have a magnificent base burn for the rest of the season that is the reverse of my trisuit.
- Like any race, I was met with the highest of highs and dark lows. The full range of thoughts from “I’m going to crush this” to “I don’t think I have what it takes.” And you know what, both those statements are true on any given day and moment
- I guess it’s a right of passage or something but I got some serious chaffe. Do pros get chaffed? Is there a trick I don’t know? or is this just an additional cost of a straight forward sport?
While the rules of this sport are simple, there is so much to getting on start line, staying in race, leaning in to discomfort, managing thoughts, making smart decisions all in the name of getting there first. It may not ever fill a stadium or have the widespread spectator appeal of a sport with a ball...bat...stick...goal-pst but man, do I love it and I’m thrilled to have checked off my first race of the season.