Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Death by Triathlon

I am beyond saddened by the recent news of 2 age-group triathletes (which means... non-professional) dying during the Nautica NYC tri this past Sunday. This news has really hit me hard. To think that these unfortunate athletes pushed themselves past their limit unknowingly... is very scary.

Athletes have a tendency to get wacky. We get very focused. And very determined. We listen to a lot of Eminem. And thus, sometimes we make very bad decisions. (Sorry Slim).

I think of my last race. I was so determined to finish, if I had lost my legs, I would have crawled across that finishline legless. And what happened... after being stung by that damn jelly, and then running on an injured knee... I finished. Now after 2 months and 6 weeks of knee PT,  I still cant do anything. MRI is tomorrow. Ramifications!

Anyone who has watched Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham collapse 100 yards from the finishline and then proceed to race on all fours at the Ironman World Champs in 1997 knows what I mean. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTn1v5TGK_w)

There are times like these where your brain stops listening to the rest of your body. All you care about is finishing and you forget that their are ramifications to your actions. Athletes can become so obsessed with the "What", (What will my time be?  What will I place in my age group?  What event will be my best?) they forget the "How" (How will I get there? How will my body react to the extreme conditions? How will I cope with the physical stress), and the why ("Why am I doing this? Why am I motivated to push limits?), and most importantly... the WHO ("Who am I doing this for?" Who are the loved ones on the sidelines that deserve to have me back after this race is over?")

Becoming an athlete is more than training physically. There are so many mental layers. You need to have determination. You need to have an ego. You need to be committed. But you also NEED to be able to stop. There is a reason that triathlon has a high rate of divorce and death. It is because the athletes that participate have the kind of personalities that foster determination, ego, and commitment, but not restraint.

I am committing right now to getting my heart checked before I start training again.  And I think anyone else out there who is an athlete should do that as well.

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out
Till my legs give out, can’t shut my mouth.
Till the smoke clears out and my high burn out
I'ma rip this shit till my bone collapse

- Eminem

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