Have you noticed all the talk about cheating lately?
We're hearing more and more about the cheating in professional (and amateur) cycling which apparently hasn't been limited to Performance Enhancing Drugs or blood doping. Now we're finding out about all sorts of incidences of "Mechanical Doping" - motors hidden in bottom brackets or seat tubes. Videos are surfacing of bikes doing some pretty miraculous things - here's a good 12-second example of a wheel that keeps turning after it crashes. Motors have likely been inside bikes since the 90's? We've come to expect this of cycling. I wasn't really surprised when I heard about it - just sad.
And even closer still to home, The New York Times recently re-surfaced the story of Julie Miller – the Ironman Canada age-grouper who was awarded 1st place in her age group but was subsequently disqualified and banned from racing in Canada for 2 years and indefinitely at Ironman events. Something about losing her timing chip (Not the strap, by the way, just the chip. The strap remained). The investigation looks as if she cut the run course, and it likely wasn't the first time. The article reports, "Miller, a mother of two young daughters, is a mental health counselor specializing in body-image disorders in Squamish."
In my triathlon years, I've seen cheating at local races a few times. There was a Seattle woman who would hop around age groups finding the one she'd have the best chance at winning until somebody figured it out. At the Danskin quite a few years ago there was a young woman who was running just ahead of me paced by her boyfriend. He kept his eye on me and if I was closing on her, he'd tell her to speed up. I told them at the turnaround to knock it off but he just laughed at me and she kept running...and beat me. It was troubling. Drafting has always seemed a temptation and a nuisance to the sport.
the result became their priority. How does a fit, accomplished person like that, sitting alone in a quiet, hot, stinky porta potty during a race come to the decision to remove a timing chip? And then turn left instead of right when they open the door? And what does that feel like inside? Joy isn't a likely part of that experience.
Are they tired? Desperate? Are they feeling a founded or unfounded weight of expectations from family and friends waiting for their victorious finish or counting on a trip to Hawaii in October? Maybe the elite need those results to keep sponsorships and to pay their bills...to keep racing at all. Maybe they just aren't ready to accept they aren't the best and they can't bear to face it - it's the only thing that they can hold onto that makes them feel worthwhile or unique. Or maybe it doesn't really feel like anything - which is scarier still. Is cheating just another tool in a toolbox toward success?
Pursuing a sport like triathlon can expose the layers of a person - we learn how hard we're willing to push ourselves. We learn about our levels of discipline or selfishness or pain tolerance and a host of other qualities. Sometimes we see things in ourselves we didn't know were there that we're proud of. Sometimes we see things we're ashamed of. But at least we have the ability to SEE and maybe a person who cheats has just lost that bit of vision. If that's the case, then I hope for them that they get it back, because seeing ourselves clearly is a great gift to an individual, their spouse, their children, their friends. And I hope for all of us that we keep our vision and that the sport helps us grow and be who we're capable of being.
Happy Training and Racing in 2016!
Why do I tri?
Well that is simple…so that I can have an Adonis-like body, and can keep up with my unbelievable attractiveness. HAH! No, it’s definitely not that (I mean c’mon, have you seen what I am working with here?!)
All kidding aside, it is actually a really difficult question for me to answer as there are so many ways I could tackle it. I think the best way for me to answer the question is with a few variations of it.
Why did I START tri’ing?
I REALLY enjoy food, and you know what they say about too much of a good thing. I have struggled with my weight, and what I guess you could call a food addiction, since I was in middle school. Throughout the years, I have gone up and down in weight, and have dealt with all of the issues that surround that (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, etc.). In 2007, I reached a dubious milestone, I tipped the scales at over 290 pounds, and I knew that I was one big binge of food away from pushing over the 300 mark. My health was clearly in a really bad place, and I finally decided that I could not let that continue. I had my wife Molly, and our 2 little girls; I knew that if I continued down the path I was on, I would slowly creep to 350…400…450 pounds. I was sure that if something did not change, I would die on them in the not too distant future. A few months later, I went under the knife, and had Lap-Band surgery. That was really the catalyst that allowed me to be in a position to start tri’ing.
Following the surgery, I got my head in the right place. I started dropping weight quickly by getting my eating under control, and I hit the gym to do a lot of elliptical. After a few months, boredus ellipticus set in (look it up, I am sure that is an actual disorder). I had run marathons in the past, so I decided it was time to get back outside and start running, even though I totally loathed it. Funny thing, after running for several weeks and ratcheting up the mileage, I realized that I actually enjoyed it! It was right around then that I got this crazy wild hair that I might want to give a sprint triathlon a shot. That was truly crazy because I had not been swimming in forever, and the only bike I had was this old, outdated mountain bike that I had not ridden in 10 years.
In any event, I went and did the Lake Wilderness Sprint triathlon in June of 2009, and I got hooked. I got a road bike soon after that, and I started going to RTB swim workouts in the mornings. Eventually I broadened my horizons further and went to the open water clinics at Lake Meridian. I was super hooked because I realized that while running was okay for me, I loved swimming and biking. As I got more and more into triathlon, I made the jump up to Olympic and 70.3 distances. A big motivation continued to be the major health benefits I was getting out of training. Also, I had gotten the bug to get progressively faster at each of the disciplines and it was so fun to push my body to places that I never could have dreamed possible.
Why do I tri now?
Health is still a major factor. I know that I need to stay continuously motivated because I have a tendency to slip back into lazy patterns if I am not driving at a BHAG (Big Huge Audacious Goal). In 2014 my BHAG became Ironman Arizona which I can only describe as an absolutely magical day. I walked up to that start line knowing that I would be an Ironman at the end of the day; I had 100% confidence. I also walked up to the line knowing that I wanted to have a lot of fun out there on the course. As much as I wanted to be an “Ironman” for my own personal reasons, I really wanted to be someone out on the course that hopefully brightened other people’s days. In all the preparation leading up to Ironman Arizona, I quizzed everyone I could about what I should put in each one of my transition and special needs bags. Someone mentioned putting something in the bag to give the volunteers; I LOVED that idea. As a result, I put some Starbucks gift cards in a few of my bags. I cannot express to you how motivating it was to reach each one of those bags so that I could hand a volunteer a gift card; it kept me going throughout the day. I did not just want to hand a gift card to the person and move along, but I really wanted to spend a minute or two interacting with them and thanking them for being out there serving me. It turned into something that was so much fun to do. Ultimately Slowtwitch.com ended up interviewing me about my day, which was also very fun to do.
Last summer, I completed Ironman Canada, and I expanded the Starbucks gift card thing to give out 8 of them. This summer, I am doing Ironman Coeur d’Alene and I think I am going to hand out at least 20 gift cards this time. Trying to show gratitude to the volunteers has really become the major reason why I tri now, and I am doing what I can to spread the word to get others to similarly show gratitude, and to recognize the volunteers.
What keeps me tri’ing in the future?
Well…knowing that I have to do things a little more extreme than the norm, I got myself the obligatory M-dot tattoo. But, instead of a nice, normal, small m-dot, I went ahead and got a big one that I have to fill in with all of the Ironman’s I complete. That means until I get a total of 12 done and then hopefully go to Kona as a legacy entrant, my leg is going to look kind of silly and incomplete. To sum it up, my ultimate goals are to: stay fit and healthy, keep doing at least one Ironman per year, and ultimately to finish in Kona.
Raise the Bar
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