Potentially insensitive and glaringly generalized thoughts ahead.....
I recently read a friend of mine's status update. It went: Officially registered for Ironman blah blah blah 2012. When I got to Ironman, it all sort of blurred together because it made no sense. In my opinion, here are the categories of those who should not do IM.
- You are 18-24 or 25-29 for that matter. Phillip Graves, 21, went big time at Ironman UK and won, then proceeded to have self control issues and has completely fallen off the map. He knew it too, and said so in a ST article.
- You have yet to do a half. If you haven't done an olympic, or sprint, you may want to stop reading now and cancel your registration. I've had plenty of people tell me that so and so was going to do an IM and had never done a tri before. Stellar.
- If you have any knowledge of the word budget and you understand that as the dollar amount goes up, the ROI is often much much less. - I can do 4 luxurious olympic distance races for the price of one IM. Who will have more fun?
And there are more, but what it comes down to is respect for the event. Call me what you will, but unless you are at least 50 years old, finishing past 15 hours is pedestrian, and you probably did not give the event, nor the other competitors their due, and you probably didn't do your homework either. On the other hand, while watching the night walkers with glowsticks galore during the Kona footage is cleverly twisted to be inspirational, the real truth is that those people did not prepare, or I guess that could have had a really crappy day. They were caught up in the hype, the fame, the glory of the event, something other than training. Sure, you look like hell coming across the line, and you battled dehydration yada yada, but objectively, you likely just didn't care enough or have your priorities in order.
When I was growing up and my dad was trying to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, the event was legendary. It commanded respect from everyone who entered. But I think, frankly, as of the past 2 or 3 years, when folks have failingly put themselves on the brink, and droves of people gather in the lights to cheer them across the line at 15, 16, 17 hours, I think that's the wrong idea. Ironman seems like it should be about mastery, about experience - having built it, and looking to gain it - about breaking your self down to see if you're fit to play.
I do not see it as an emotional playground, or a practice test. No, there are plenty of chances before then. Finishing the swim past the time cut off like I witnessed in last year's footage should not illicit devastation and crying. It should evoke embarassment and some serious self-reflection. Bottom line is you knew what the cutoff was, and you probably knew you wouldn't make it. Thank you, come again. Heartless? No, realistic. I've heard grueling stories about Kona's winds. They are practically telling you to "toughen up or I'll blow you the 'f' off this island." How's that for some reconsideration?
Ironman is selling you what it is not: a good time, mildly challenging event, at beautiful venues and scenic courses. And for that, I will not sign up. I went 4:55 at Muncie this year, and I have no business doing a full. Shanahan says that to do that race legitimately, you have to train 20-30hrs/wk. I couldn't agree more. Make that reason #2 why I won't even consider it. But the most important is that I don't deserve the chance. People like my dad, Sue, Bob, Dave, Tim, they all deserved the chance. They paid their dues with the shorter distances, wrangled in the workload bit by bit, and went and succeeded. In talking with Scott and others at the shop, there is a fine combination of what it takes to earn an accomplishment. The question I ask myself is, have I done the work to earn the prize? Ask twice, evaluate, then answer once.
In my opinion, Ironman should make people question their abilities. Question whether they can do it. But as a commercial big business, the only thing they really ask for is your money. To do any non-world championship IM, they merely suggest that you have done at least one race prior. What a joke.
Until IM beefs up their entry requirements and shortens the finishing cut off, I'm 90% sure I won't do one. Unless of course, I could do one in training. For Free.