September 20, 2007

Post-SOS Cuddle

I've been racing for over 25 years. I remember my first race very clearly. It was the Minuteman 10k in Westport, CT and I believe I was about 12 years old. I ran the entire race with my mother. We came in last. The only thing behind us was an ambulance and a group of volunteers who really really wanted to go home.

Despite the poor showing, I realized I loved running and ended up racing in many more events over the years. Lo and behold, I managed to get a bit faster and never had to run from the ambulance again.

In 1992, when I was arguably at the peak of my running career, I decided to give it a go at my first triathlon. It was an incredible experience, so I tried another. That second one was even better, so I kept going.

Now here I am with nearly 3 decades of racing under my belt, 15 of which have been primarily focused on multi-sport madness. I've been lucky enough to have competed in over one hundred events, some of which were pretty darn amazing. In fact, it seems that the older I get, the more incredible my racing experiences. Perhaps I'm starting to stretch out of my comfort zone a little more and sieze the opportunities in life. Carpe Triathlon, and all that crap. Or maybe I'm just learning to appreciate the journey. But I suppose that's a philosophical brick wall that we can drive into at another time. Either way, the experiences keep getting better.

So as I surf the waves of elation in my post-SOS state of mind, I've started thinking about which have been my most incredible racing experiences. Honestly, it doesn't require a bunch of thought because the answer pops into my mind immediately. Without a doubt, it's been Ironman Lake Placid and SOS

Having just finished the SOS, people have asked me a lot of questions about it. Is it hard? Is it fun? Is it like an Ironman?

The truth of the matter is that the feeling I had at the end of both races was somewhat similar. If we watch the video tapes in slow motion, I'm pretty sure that I gave the same caveman yell and a similar dorky fist-pump as I was cruising down the finishers chute at both races. That all comes from emotion. As any sports-loving homosapien male knows, there are different fist-pumps for each emotion. When you see the same fist-pump in different instances, it equates to the same feeling.

However, fist-pumping emotion aside, the overall experience at both Ironman and SOS was quite a bit different. Each one was a completely different journey. I've put quite a bit of thought into this and I think I've finally figured it out. Here's my explanation...

Ironman is like surviving a car crash. It can be somewhat of a horrendous experience with an extreme amount of pain. The trauma may even cause you to forget large blocks of the event. But in the end, you are ecstatic to have emerged on the other side and you feel like you are a better person because of it

SOS, on the other hand, is like really good sex. You're smiling and laughing and sweating through the entire thing. In the end, you're far too tired to move a muscle, but you're really hungry and just can't seem to wipe the smile off your face.

Which is better, a car crash or sex? Well, sex...obviously. Duh.

Fortunately, not everybody has experienced the great lure of the SOS, it's still a small town race. Trust me though, like sex, once your body recovers from the SOS, you just want to do it all over again. It's that good.

But the fact is that so many of us are mesmerized by the car crash. After you step through the fire and come out the other side unscathed, you're driven to walk through a hotter fire and do it faster. It's the great lure of Ironman.

Which I suppose is where I am right now. Breaking away from my post-SOS cuddle and preparing myself for Ironman Arizona. It's gonna get ugly

Carpe Car Crash.


im2005im said...

My first ironman was an almost mystical experiance. I had a huge smile for every volunteer and spectator. The condtions were horrible (wisconsin 2005) but somehow the fact that it was my first IM helped me through. I agree that looking back there were definite car-crash qualities - which led to my 2nd (wisc 2007). This experience was of course different - but not better, even though I had a much better race performance. I don't want to do another Ironman - not yet. I almost worry that each time I would do another, I cheapen the first.... But I need another challenge. From your description of SOS, maybe this is it!