Saturday, December 22, 2007


Well. Today at Barnes & Noble I decided to get the latest issue of Triathlete Magazine, the first I've bought since I was training for IMFL, just because I'm tentatively dipping my toes into considering myself a triathlete again, being as how I'm training for a marathon AND bike-commuting to work AND planning on doing (conquering) SavageMan in September.

Well. I hope you don't have to be of Triathlete Magazine caliber to be a triathlete.

The only thing in the whole issue that panders to the likes of me, athletically and economically, is chocolate milk as a recovery drink.

Money, money, money. Pay up front for your Kona slot, or to register for next year's IM-wherever. Even though you're already broke from this year's registration and training season.

Reviews on new gear..... not stuff you're likely to find at Goodwill.

Bikes that cost my year's income.

Kona, Kona, Kona. The Only True Triathlon In The World. M-Dot. M-Dot. M-Dot.

OK, I did an M-Dot race. I also did an ultra-distance triathlon (same distance as Ironman, different nomenclature) that was not M-Dot. I did the non-M-Dot race first. Was I an IronMan after that race? I did it an hour and 20 minutes faster than my M-Dot race. Did that mean anything?

Ironman is a brand-name. M-Dot is a trademark.

Am I more of a nose-blower if I use Kleenex than if I use Wal-Mart's Great Value Facial Tissues?

Am I less of an athlete because I have only one pair of tri shorts (that I got on eBay, one not-even-noticeable hole in left leg above hem) and wash them by hand every night and dry them above the electric heater in preparation for the next day's ride?

Am I a less-able triathlete if I have an $1800 Trek 2100 bike than someone who has a Cervelo XXX with internal hydration system and disc wheels? And have never bought a new set of wheels worth as much as or more than my bike?

How about if I've worn the same pair of bike shoes for the last 3 years?

How about if my Bento Box (from eBay) is ripped and torn but still serviceable so I don't buy a new one?

How about if I don't go to New Zealand for an Ironman race because I can't afford a ticket to New Zealand (even if I could afford another M-Dot registration?)

How about if I have to decide whether to register for the Austin Marathon out of my current paycheck and get new running shoes out of the next one, or vice versa, because I can't do both out of one paycheck and still buy groceries? Am I still an athlete?

How about if my energy drink is cold sweet tea instead of InfinIT?

I don't know, this whole issue just pissed me off. I think I'll go back to reading Backpacker (which also pisses me off..... $6000 on gear to go hike the Appalachian Trail where you pretend to live on nothing for 6 months, see what it's like to be homeless, although you can go home any time.... suppose you take practically NOTHING with you to live on nothing. Are you still a hiker???)

Essentials are:
For running: Running shoes and some kind of synthetic socks. I've been very happy lately with Danskin Now socks from Wal-Mart, $3.99 for 2 pairs. (There is a large contingent of runners who maintain that running shoes and socks are unncecessary and even deleterious.)

For biking: bike, biking shoes, helmet, sunglasses (from Wal-Mart.) I have a pair of tri shorts but in college and when I was a kid I rode in my jeans. No helmet, either.... it wasn't heard of.

For swimming: swimsuit, goggles. Maybe a wetsuit. Maybe I'm a traitor to myself because I own TWO wetsuits, a sleeveless one and a long-sleeved one. I should sell one. If you have two coats and your neighbor has none...

For hiking/backpacking: some kind of decent shoes, sleeping bag, shelter, water + drinking vessel, food, and some kind of pack to put it all in. And just go. Just hit the trail.

I'm tired of stuff and paying money for stuff that advertisers advertise to make you want to buy so they can make more money.

I'm tired of hearing about Kona. I'm tired of reading about gear I can never aspire to have. I'm tired of reading about achievements I can never aspire to achieve.

I wanna talk about ME.


bunnygirl said...

Gear-obsession seems to be particularly strong in the cycling and tri crowds. I'm often tempted to point out that a $1,000 bike bought in the early years of this decade is, if properly maintained, better than the bikes Eddie Merckx rode to win the Tour de France.

If I've got a bike that's better than what a 5-time Tour champion rode, who am I to whine that it's not good enough for my 15-20 mph averages on local organized rides and local tris?

Did Bill Rodgers need a Garmin? He won his first Boston Marathon in cutoffs, not wicking shorts. I wouldn't recommend doing the same, but it just goes to show that it's who you are and how you train that make the difference.

Beyond a certain point, gear does nothing to make you good. It just means you've got money to spend.

TxTriSkatemom said...

as much as I love the gadgets, and I do LOVE the gadgets, I will never be able to spend $thousand$ on a bicycle. I'm having a hard time justifying a $500 bicycle, which is considered an "entry-level" road bike. I am a bit OCD and I need the stats to keep me motivated, but I also run mostly in gear from Target, Wal-Mart and wherever I get gift cards for birthdays and Christmas (Academy and Nike this year). The race fees are tough, too, along with all that's involved in traveling to a race, which is why I've only traveled to two races -- my first tri and MCM. Otherwise, it's not fair to my family to spend so much on my hobby.

All that above to say, you are not alone!