Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Goodbye Old Friend

I bought a Timex "Ironman" wristwatch almost five years ago. That was 82 races, two bikes, 15 pairs of running shoes, and what seems like a dozen or so "NM Outlaws" jerseys, shorts, skinsuits, and aero helmets ago.

However, it is dying. The display is getting harder and harder to see. I thought about taking it in to a jeweler to have the battery replaced, but watches never seem to work quite right after getting a battery transplant.

Tonight I was at Wally World, and I picked up a new "Ironman". The display is nice and clear, but this watch has no history to it.

What should I do with the old watch? Toss it in the old sock drawer and forget about it? Cremate it and spread its ashes over my favorite 5K run? Build a Viking funeral pyre and float it out into the middle of Bottomless Lake after setting it on fire? Offer it up to the Smithsonian Museum? Scratch a likeness of Ronald Reagan on the back of it and then sell it on EBay?

Goodbye, old friend.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Feelin' Flu

Straight away, I feel a twinge of guilt writing about my bout with the flu this week. Myles managed to tough his way through a 50 km ultra today. (Read about it on his blog, http://clydeologist.blogspot.com/ ). But I was watching the national and Albuquerque news last night, and both had stories about how many people had come down with the flu recently. This, is my story........

Last Sunday, I was planning on going for a long run. When I woke up, I didn't feel too perky. By the time I got around to going out, I'd bagged the idea of running and figured I'd do an easy recovery ride. I was gone for about an hour, and by the time I got home, I was feeling woozy. I started drinking juice with vitamin-C and gargling with mouthwash, but I could tell this was going to be around for a couple of days. Sure enough, I felt pretty crappy on Monday and Tuesday, but I felt like I might be coming out of it on Wednesday.

And then I woke up Thursday morning. Nauseous, sore throat, hacking cough, splitting headache, and every muscle in my body felt like I'd been run over by a truck. (Kind of the way I felt with six miles to go at IMAZ in 2006.) I literally tip-toed around at work, because it hurt to move. I got home at 4:00 and went to bed. At 9:30, I woke up, feeling pretty good. I got up and graded papers until midnight, figuring everything was going to be OK on Friday. I even gave a thought to getting in a swim or a run. However, I still didn't feel very chipper on Friday. At least I could walk without grimacing, and I was only coughing about once every ten minutes as opposed to Thursday where it was every 30 seconds or so.

So now it's Saturday. I feel great. I've been thinking, it's almost worth being sick so that you can experience the euphoria of feeling well again. And what the heck, we could all use a "recovery week" in our training schedules.

Then again, I don't ever want to feel as bad again as I felt on Thursday. Not during a race, and especially if I'm not racing.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

The New Golf

The idea that triathlon (or specifically M-dot Ironman triathlon) will be the new golf has been out there for a while. My $0.02.......

Both require quite a bit of money just to get started. While you can rent a set of clubs at the public links and play in a pair of running shoes, anyone who is "serious" about golf will buy their own clubs, bag, shoes, and maybe even their own cart. While you might borrow a bike and helmet for your first triathlon, you'll soon be spending enough money on bikes, shoes, helmets, shorts, jerseys, and swim wear to pay for at least a year of college. Golf has its green fees or even pricier club dues. Triathlon has its race entry fees ($500 for an M-dot IM these days). Not to mention the costs of travel, lodging, and eating on the road in order to get to the race locations.

While I don't have the demographics at my finger tips, I can draw some conclusions based on my time spent around golfers and triathletes. Compared to the general population, both sports have fewer minorities, people who are generally financially secure, and people with at least some college education. (Of course you have exceptions to these generalities.)

It's cool to tell your golfing buddies that you are taking a trip to Monterey to play Pebble Beach or that you've been invited down to Georgia to get in a few rounds at Augusta. Triathletes drop lines such as, "There was the time I was doing Ironman "XYZ" and you should have seen how tough the heat/cold/wind/rain was on the day." Triathletes secretly (if not outwardly) plan their trip(s) to Kona.

So, will triathlon take over from golf?

I could be wrong (and I'm often hideously wrong), but I don't see it happening. USAT is excited that this year there are 100,000 athletes who registered with USAT. While that is probably a greater percentage of the US population than those who have registered with whatever association tracks curling, it is still only one in every 3000 Americans. It would mean there are about ten people in Clovis doing triathlons, and that is about right. There would be not quite 200 people in Albuquerque doing triathlons, and I'm guessing that's about right. However, the number of golfers in either location would dwarf the number of triathletes. If you start talking about sports and you mention "Tiger", "Phil", "Ernie" or "Veejay", quite a few people, (including a lot of "sports fans" who have never played a round of golf) know who you are talking about. Throw in "Macca", "Norman", "Faris", or "Tim", and even some triathletes would have a hard time placing these names to a face. Your average sports fan in the US wouldn't be able to guess what sport these guys are a part of if you gave them 20 guesses.

If you think about your average American with a few thousand dollars and a lot of free time to spend on a "sport", you've got to figure strolling (or riding a cart) around a pastoral looking golf course and then hitting the clubhouse bar for a few drinks is more appealing than going for a one-hour swim/five-hour bike/two-hour run (followed by some Endurox). And I've never had to deal with ill-mannered dogs, pot-holed roads, and crappy drivers on a golf course.

There must be some youngsters out there thinking, "When I grow up, I'll be a professional triathlete." But their parents are thinking, "You know, the guy who finishes in 276th place on the PGA money list makes more money in a year than I do in ten years. How many pro triathletes need their parents to buy their groceries and pay their rent?"

I won't go out of my way to watch golf on TV, but if I'm grading papers it provides a passable background. But as much as I enjoy racing in a triathlon, I can't see how watching even a two-hour ITU race would be much fun, much less an eight-hour IM.

I'm not saying it will happen, but I think triathlon, rather than becoming the new golf, could become the new tennis. If you can remember the late 70's-early 80's with Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Ashe, Everett, and Naritilova, then you can remember buying a tennis racket and playing some sets. Thirty years later, you see abandoned tennis courts used by skateboarders.

I wonder what someone will do with a carbon time trial bicycle frame thirty years from now?