I can tell you one thing about triathlon: it is really expensive. Like, really expensive. I walk around at Ironman Arizona, and it’s Zipp discs as far as the eye can see. $6k bikes, fancy wet suits, $300 bike shoes; everything is expensive. Just the race entry itself is quadruple the money I had ever spent on a race entry in my life, and this is also the first time I’ve ever even flown to a race.
Yes, you can do local sprint and olympic races without spending too much, that was my original introduction to the sport when I was making very little money. I didn’t have any of the fancy stuff: I had a cheap road bike that way too large for me, cheap shoes, a cheap (regular) bike helmet, a rented wet suit (a big expense for me at the time), and bargain basement tri shorts with a t-shirt. But Ironman® is a completely different animal.
It’s hard not to look around at what other people have and instantly feel like everything I have is shit, even if 10 minutes ago I thought it was just fine. It’s hard not to feel like I don’t fit in, and how to hell do these people have so much damn money, what am I doing wrong in life!? During Coeur d’Alene Half, some guy said I needed a bike upgrade (as I was passing him). I had literally bought that bike 3 weeks prior to the race. Fuck that guy.
So I try to remember a few things when I walk around and see all the things that other people have that I can’t afford.
- You can buy speed, but not that much speed. You certainly can’t buy legs like these 😀
- I don’t have any credit card debt. Sure I could “buy” those things… and pay for it dearly later. No thanks.
- How much happier would I be if I had nicer things? Would I be 3x as happy? 4x as happy? Probably I wouldn’t be happier at all, I would find something else to be lacking. It’s a never ending cycle of wanting.
- It’s amazing I’m here at all, I am so grateful that I have the money to buy what I do have (which is a lot!), that my circumstances allow me to be here, and most especially that my body is capable of doing this. And of course I am so lucky to have the support of a new (to me) enthusiastic and supportive community.
When I think about what’s important to me on race day, it’s not my wheels. It’s focus, it’s execution, it’s giving it everything I have. It’s seeing friends along the course and high-fiving spectators. Yes I want a good result, yes fancy this-or-that would shave a few seconds off my time, but look at it this way: if I am just off the podium, I always have something else to blame 😉