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How did we get here...

Posted Mar 24 2009 12:00am
I normally write about how my training for the day went. I've decided to spice it up a bit and add some commentary every once in a while. I find that when I'm training for over 3 hours, I have a lot of time to think. What came to mind tonight was how expensive doing triathlons has gotten and does having all the toys make us better? Before I go any further I want to say that I have all the toys, except for a power tap and a Compu Trainer, which I'd love to have. So I am being hypocritical.

I started doing triathlons in 1986, it was still a grass roots movement. It was easy to get involved in, all you need was a bathing suit, a bike, a helmet and runners, family and friends were allowed in the transition zone to help you out, except at the Ironman. It wasn't uncommon to see people riding their bikes with running shoes in rat traps, heck, even cycling shoes at that time weren't clip less. When I started I was 19 years old making $24,000 per year and it didn't cost much to get involved. Last year, after a 15 year layoff, I got back into triathlons and my income is significantly higher and I didn't want to look out of place so I bought everything I needed and signed up for quite a few races, including Louisville Ironman. All in all it cost me $14,070 for the year, including travel expenses (I itemized it all). I ended up doing a total of 13,834.24 Km's of training, it cost me $1.02 per km or 1.64 per mile or .03 cents per calorie burnt. When I put the numbers to it, it can be an expensive sport. It's really changed from those early days. I was shocked to see that the average competitor's income at the Louisville Ironman was $180,000 U.S. Things have really changed!

Does all this cost advancement make us faster? I don't think so. I remember 20 years ago there was the epic Ironman races between Mark Allen, Dave Scott, Scott Molina and Scott Tinley. These guys had non triathlon or carbon bikes, no special wheels, they changed clothes from the swim to the bike and from the bike to the run and they set some of the best times to date, all on older basic technology that no one would be caught dead using today. Yet, very few modern day pro triathletes have beaten the old times of Mark Allen or Dave Scott. So why am I saying this? I've decided to revolt in my own way. I'm no longer going to get caught up in all the latest and greatest technological advancements (with that said, I already have most of them. I should have thought of this last year, my wife Alice would have been happier). But things like nutrition is one thing I can immediately deal with. I'm going to eat food to get my vitamins. I'm not going to go crazy on buying and eating sports bars. If you think about it, if you go for a 5 hour ride and you eat one bar an hour and a bar costs you $2.50 that's $12.50 just in food, not to mention sports drink. Tonight, instead of a sports bar, I ate a banana, a wheat grain bun with butter and a couple of fig newtons with regular Gatorade that I mixed up.

I love triathlons. I love the people who participate and volunteer. The support and camaraderie hasn't changed after 20 plus years, it's an awesome sport and I would never slam it. I'm just saying that it can be an expensive sport and buying all the goodies doesn't make you go faster. This year, I'm going to be trying to spend as much money as I did when I was 19 years old. You may recognize me on the road if you see a guy with a few baked potatoes in the back of his cycling jersey.

Today's run was great. Excellent pace, kept heart rate under 135 bpm. It was windy outside, about 40kph winds and only 2 C (-4 C with wind chill), that's why I didn't do my ride outside. On the run I thought I was running at a 8:04 pace, but then realized I didn't restart my watch after a brief traffic stop and of course it looked like I was running a consistent 8:04 pace until I finished. It's a good thing I use two watches. The bike was strong and long and I didn't finish until around 11 pm. My legs felt strong and my pace reflected it. The last 30 minutes was character building.

Moderate Run - 1:16:18 / 9.3 miles / 8:12 pace
Moderate Bike - 2:00 / 63.09 KM / avg 31.5 kph / avg hr 127 bpm
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