Monday, June 14, 2010

Training issues, being a triathlete, and other stories

I talked a few weeks ago about how I equate an oral exam to training for a triathlon. You train/prep for the exam and race and hope that on the exam day or race day that everything comes out ok. Well, I took my oral about two weeks ago and it didn't go very well. I was rattled. Immediately. He started asking me asinine questions about the computer systems in the airplane and what computer is talking to what and on and on and on. Basically, he wanted me to build the airplane. Needless to say, I walked out of there feeling like a train had run over me.

It was an important lesson though. I got rattled from the get-go. And unfortunately, my prep for the oral didn't get a chance to shine through. Imagine if this was a triathlon. How could I get rattled in the first few minutes of a tri? The water temp is colder then expected. My goggles get kicked off or fill with water. It's rainy. How would I deal with it on race day? Would I let it affect my entire race? I sure hope not.

When something rattles you, in any aspect of life, stop. Take a breath. Relax. What I could have potentially done with the guy giving me the exam was to ask him if we could start over. From that first question that rattled me, start over and fresh. If I was to have my goggles fill with water on the tri, I would move out of the way of the other swimmers and empty them. Then I would resume swimming. It would be like starting over.

So...lesson learned. I passed the flight last night with flying colors. :-)

Another thing that has been plaguing me, and this has been for awhile now, is what makes a triathlete a triathlete? How does someone go from being an ordinary schlub to being a triathlete? Moreso, who has the right to claim the title of triathlete?

Brian over at TriBoomer
explored this issue as well, and probably sums it up much better then I could ever hope to. This is a guy who I could never live up to. He's completed numerous Ironmans and is a great athlete. Crazy, according to his doctor, but still. He says that because he hasn't done a multisport event this year, he doesn't feel he's a triathlete, regardless of why he is not participating in the sport this year.

Let me put it this way. I have completed one triathlon in my life. It was a sprint tri last year. My first ever actual triathlon. I was elated and for awhile was proud and was willing to call myself a triathlete. But I pondered all winter (ask T, she'll confirm this) what makes a person a triathlete? These girls that train for three weeks, go out and do the Tri for the Cure one time and post a 2:30 time. Are they triathletes? I don't think so. The reason the sport we love is growing so much is the hype and trendiness around it. It's another box to check off. I don't necessarily think there's something wrong with that, because I know people that have done their first triathlon and are hooked after that. *raises hand. Pick me! Pick me!* But there are also plenty of people who do one tri and that's it. They've checked off the box, then move on.

I think being a triathlete involves so much more then just doing one race. As I said to Brian, it's like putting out a kitchen fire and calling yourself a fireman (or woman). Yes, you are "technically" a "firefighter" because by definition, you fought a fire. A person that completes a triathlon is technically a triathlete, because they have completed a triathlon. But is that really fair to those of us that pour our heart and soul into the sport? Those of us who dream of competing Ironman and god forbid qualify for Kona? To be a triathlete, in my opinion, you have to believe it in your heart. You have to be hungry for the sport. And yes, you should be an active participant. But just doing a few races doesn't make a person a triathlete. The word passion comes to mind.

As my schedule improves next year, you will see more multisport races on the schedule for myself and T. Because this is a sport that I want to improve in and want to grow in. It's something that I truly want to get better in and something I want to do the rest of my life. Do I see myself in the mirror right now as a triathlete? Not really. What I see in the mirror right now is someone who has a deep desire to grow in the sport and wants to eventually be looked at by other people as a triathlete.

Back to Denver tomorrow, and it's time to ramp up the training. :-)


  1. Yes, It's all a journey, Brandon! When I began running, it was just that, I ran, or perhaps the diminutive, jogged. With time I improved. One day someone who saw me said, "You are a runner, not a jogger!" That felt good, and I realized I had "arrived."

    Well done on your flight exam!!!!

  2. Hey Brandon, Thanks for the props and the link in your post. Keep working, or waiver from the path to the goal. You can meet all of your challenges and soon comes the day when this triathlete will congratulate you and call you, Ironman.