Boulder, Colorado had the opportunity to host an Ironman triathlon yesterday. Not that surprising when you consider how many residents of Boulder worship triathletes or are one themselves. In fact there was quite a bit of enthusiasm around town at the number of local competitors compared to other cities that host these events. Remember, this is the town that still has outward supporters of Lance Armstrong even after it has been determined that he not only was dishonest, but also back stabbed many of his own teammates. It makes perfect sense to me that Boulder is the premier place to host an "Ironman" event, because everyone living here already thinks they are some sort of Iron man.
The competitiveness that exists here day in and day out is pretty remarkable. It's not just good enough to ride your bike, (God forbid you actually enjoy yourself while doing it), but you have to log your time and distance so that you can be ranked amongst other local riders to see who's the toughest. You can't just go hiking. If you did that you'd run the risk of breathing fresh air, re-establishing your diminished relationship to nature and actually feeling less stressed and more relaxed afterwards. No, in Boulder you're challenged to hike every "Fourteener" in the state and see how quickly you can do it. Only the most bad ass hikers can do all the Fourteeners.
Anyway, you get the point. Competition fuels everything in this town and the desire to give it all you've got and "lay it all on the line" in the name of competition is often the measuring stick for who gets the most respect. So here I sit in Boulder, reading the local newspaper because I was interested in seeing what the winning times were that were posted by the finishers. Rather than provide me with that information, the newspaper decided to print a picture on the front page of a local resident cheering on the racers alongside the road. Seems benign enough, right? What's alarming to me is that this woman was holding a sign that read, word for word, " If you're still married, you didn't train hard enough." I swear, it really said this!
I glanced at the picture, and at the sign and just said to myself, "well that's Boulder." If you live here you've already come to terms with the idea that you've got to be willing to lose your relationship if you want to be the best in your hobby or activity. Remember, nearly all of these "Iron" people are amateur athletes, meaning they're not getting paid. The caption below the picture read, "thousands of fans gather to support 'feat of human strength' at Boulder Ironman." Now that's my first problem. Feat of Human Strength. When I hear that term or that phrase, it makes me think of someone possessing the kind of strength that would in some way benefit them as it pertains to longevity. Right? Stronger people live longer. There was an article published in January 2010 in the New York Times that proves this last statement. Nowhere do I see the kind of strength that leads to greater longevity present in these triathlon competitors. In fact, if you have your ear to the curb these days, you know that endurance sport enthusiasts are actually at much greater risk for heart disease and coronary issues than anaerobic participants. As I sat at an intersection waiting to go home after work yesterday, I observed for roughly 25 minutes, hordes of these "Ironmen" pedaling across the road directly in front of my vehicle. Feat of Human Strength is probably the LAST phrase I would select to describe what I saw. Everyone of them was broken, tired and exhausted. That doesn't equate to strength to me. But perhaps I'm wrong.
Here is the link to an article I wrote on this very topic more than a year ago. http://www.examiner.com/article/welcome-to-boulder-america-s-least-obese...
In the article I was reading about the race, there was a quote from the winner of the men's amateur division. Upon recording the best, non-professional time, the racer said, again word for word, "The reason why I wanted to do this one was because it was home town and I knew there'd be a lot of people cheering." I promise I left the grammatical errors exactly as they were printed in the paper. I didn't change anything. So what are we left to deduce from this statement? In the hopes of receiving cheers and encouragement from your fellow local townspeople, you're willing to subject your body, more importantly your heart, (which many would consider a pretty vital component to your longevity) to excessive periods of stress. Now if we took into consideration the point that was being made by the woman holding the sign, we can confidently say that this particular individual put out the effort and training to accomplish the best non-professional time. That must mean that in his pursuit of attaining the best time, he already has sacrificed a potentially functional relationship. Does this not seem absurd?
My point in this rant is not to say we shouldn't compete, or strive to accomplish things that are beyond the scope of what's attainable. It's simply to analyze this culture of competitors that are willing to risk their marriage and families in the name of triathlons and merely ask, "Are you really doing it just because you want to hear the people cheering you on?" Before we are quick to brand these competitors "Ironmen", let's first ask if they are functional, healthy minded individuals. I'd bet you would be surprised at what you found if you dug beneath the surface. Ultimately, Health and Wellness are concepts that take effort day in and day out to master. We have to establish a reasonable symbiosis between our mind, body and spirit if we wish to be labeled "fit" as that term relates to longevity. Sadly that doesn't come from swimming, riding your bike and running in that order. I'll say it again, I'm not suggesting Boulder shouldn't host events like this anymore, or that people shouldn't participate in them. I'm simply saying that we should give these broken people the emotional support that they truly need to not put their marriage on the line just to complete a race. One that you don't get anything for if you win, keep in mind. If you are interested in more information on the concept of using fitness intelligently to enhance your longevity, then please visit www.functionalfitnessusa.com. If you are interested in more information on healthy exercise and supplementation, follow @Rich1ill.
In closing, I will reiterate a point that may have escaped many people. IronMan is a fictional character. His name is Tony Stark and he was developed by the masterminds at Marvel comics. Let's just leave it at that. Thanks.