How Chris McCormack Woke My Ass Up

It’s crazy how narrow minded we can get.  Twenty two months ago (when I started running for the first time in my life) I thought the St. Patrick’s Day 5K was the biggest thing since Minnesota Fats.  A month later, the Country Music Half Marathon seduced me for all she was worth.

Then, I did my first triathlon.

The Music City Triathlon felt bigger than life (especially since I was a grown man sporting head to toe lycra for the first time).  I felt completely out of place and shook like a beauty contestant answering world history questions.  But I was off-the-charts excited for my first sprint.

A few weeks later, I went to watch Ironman Louisville, and they had me at hello.

Holy shit.  This was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.  I was re-born.  Everything was new and smelled like flowers.  Nearly 3,000 maniacs busting their ass for up to 17 hours?  You gotta be kidding me.  These are my people!

About 3 weeks later I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin and haven’t looked back . . . much.

It’s been a wild ride and for much of the time I have been obsessed with the Ironman brand.  It’s easy to do.  She is rightly known as the Queen.

And twelve months later, I was king.

Six weeks after that, I took my new Ironman backpack down the road for a small town 1/2 triathlon called Goosepond.  I was so jaded I didn’t even train.  A little 1/2 in Alabama?  Ha… no big deal.

But it was a big deal and Goosepond kicked my ass.2013 Goosepond Tri (355 of 585)-X3

I was not only taking it lightly, I was looking down at it.  What the fuck?  Who was I to be disrespecting a 1/2 triathlon a year after I started in the sport?  I have done a total of 6 triathlons in my life with zero notable awards.  But one was an Ironman, and that gave me false importance.

I even wrote a somewhat snarky report about that race and I’m glad I didn’t go further with my childish humor.  The bottom line is, Goosepond was a good race, a tough race, and one that ate me alive.  I wasn’t ready and it punched me in the mouth.

A few days later I stumbled onto this article by Chris McCormack.  His focus is valuing the sport ahead of the brand.  He recounts a pre-race discussion he had with some novice triathletes who really believed that if it wasn’t an “Ironman” it didn’t really count.

Chris went on to list a bunch of non-Ironman races that he absolutely loved like The Challenge Roth, The Norseman, and Escape from Alcatraz.  The novices looked at him dumbfounded.  Chris dug for ways to plead his case, but it was hopeless.  They were Ironman’s bitch.

And I was Ironman’s bitch, too.

I was “this” close to stamping their logo on my body, but for some reason decided not to.* Probably because it’s turned into far more than a “one and done.”  It’s an ongoing competition with other athletes, myself, and the terrain — no matter whose logo is on my bib.

*  I have nothing against this and still may do it someday, but it doesn’t feel right at the moment.

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