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As time permits, in-depth musings on myriad subjects will be posted. Abbreviated adages will be announced via Twitter.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Ten Thousand Dollar Question

Today was a day off for me -- a comp day for being blessed with a student teacher this semester -- and it was to be a full day of training; Ironman Texas is just over a month out.

N's alarm roused me from a dream about installing software of laptops in a computer lab (yup, full time nerd, right here), so it was off to the gym with me. Because of some construction in the walkway to the pool, I had to take the long way through the gym itself, rather than cutting through the locker room. This diversion afforded the opportunity to be approached by a fellow triathlete, an older gentleman herein referred to simply as "Joe."

Joe's attention was caught by my Buffalo Springs Triathlon shirt, so the conversation was quick to get off to the subject of triathlon, Ironman in particular. We briefly exchanged race stories, and I mentioned that I was training for Texas next month. Joe suggested I join him and his cronies for some training, given that he and all of them were multi-time Ironman finishers. It was then that it became apparent that Joe was anything but average.

For starters, there was the fact that it was just past 6:00 AM, and Joe was about to go off on a run with his friends. He invited me to go with them; guess he failed to notice the flip-flops and the behemoth of a swim bag over my shoulder. Then he suggested I join them for some open water swims in the Guadalupe -- something I have been interested in doing, given that said river is 40+ miles closer to home than is Boerne Lake. Greater distance, too. Trouble is, Joe and his group do the swims on Friday morning at 7:00 AM. My second mentioning that I was a teacher and had to be at work early seemed to be brushed off; a teacher from SAISD had joined them just this past Friday, so why couldn't I?

Inevitably, the subject of money came up as my reason for Texas being my last Ironman. Joe agreed that Ironman does get to be expensive. He spent a minimum of $6,000 on each of his five…sometimes upwards of ten. Thousand. Dollars. I mean, you gotta have a coach, right?

After a few more minutes, Joe excused himself to get going on his run, and I finally made my way out to the pool. It was to be my second Iron-distance swim this month, and it was good. Despite my feeling twinges of a sore neck from an ill night's sleep on Saturday, I managed to shave off nearly two minutes from my time just a over a week ago: 1:10:55 for the 2.4 miles.

A couple of hours later, I found myself at Local Coffee, meeting with a guy regarding MS. A friend from the MS Society suggested we sit down and talk, for he and his wife are about ten years down the road from where N & I are now. There is no teacher like experience, so I was grateful for the opportunity to listen, share, and learn. Rest assured, I was infinitely more impressed with this gentleman and how he focuses his energy and abilities than I was with Bob and his dropping ten grand on a single M-dot race. No doubt, I have respect for those of us who are physically able to push our bodies that distance, time and again, but, then I remember that WTC, owners of of the Ironman brand, is a for-profit entity. Further, the outlandish amounts of money that individuals the world over are willing to throw at that brand, manufacturers of equipment (wet suits, bikes, helmets, shoes, nutrition) , coaches -- whatever -- it, again, made me question: Why?

Right now, the answer is because it is late in the game for gearing up for Texas, and I have goals for this race beyond the finishing time. Texas will serve as a launchpad for me and my fundraising for October's Bike MS: Ride to the River. Cindy and others have been instrumental in working to outfit me in a one-off tri kit promoting the MS Society, and I look forward to sporting it at Ironman Texas, as well as at all future triathlons. Hopefully, others will don it, too, and the average Joe will become much more aware of how money can be better spent on making a cure for MS a reality, instead of chasing a dream 140.6 miles, again and again.

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