Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Is competion worth it?

Although I train regularly, I have only entered two competitions -- the Carpinteria Triathlon and the Senior Olympics in Pasadena, California.

In the triathlon, I did the sprint course -- 5K ocean swim, 15K nearly flat bike ride and a 5K run. In the senior olympics, I did the 5 and 10K bicycle time trials and bench pressing.

Barring injury, I will do the triathlon again this year, but I am not so sure about the Senior Olympics. I love bike riding -- for training and transportation -- but the bike races were kind of serious. For example, Fritz Tomasello, shown here, is a California State champion. Like Fritz, most of the folks had a couple of expensive racing bikes and other equipment in their trucks and vans. I was the only one with an old steel frame bike. Even worse -- I didn't have a spandex riding outfit -- just a t-shirt and shorts.

Jewett Pattee was another notable competitor. Jewett is a hall of fame racer who has completed the Race across America and five Furnace Creek 508 races. Jewett is a pretty amazing guy -- out on his bike with artificial hips at 83 years old!

The bench press contest was easier going. There were more competitors, and they did not seem quite so focused on winning -- maybe in weight lifting the contest is more against yourself than the other athletes. We ranged from first timers like me to AAU champions, but everyone seemed to cheer everyone else on. Unlike the bike races, equipment is not a factor in weight lifting.

The triathlon is open to all ages, but we were grouped in the starting area by age, so all of the older men got to hang out before the race. There only a few of us, but it was a friendly group. Again, I had the only old bike and rode in running shoes, but I did have a cool wet suit. I was nervous about the swim, having just started swimming a few months earlier, but that turned out to be the most enjoyable part. We started in a bunch, and you could feel the others around you -- like a school of fish. The bike ride was pretty easy -- I paced myself, but still passed a lot of people. The run was tough -- I had to stop and walk to catch my breath frequently. Looking over my split times, it is clear that I need to work on running.

I got a couple of medals from all this, but they are no big deal -- surely not enough to keep me coming back for more. I am hooked on training -- daily workouts -- the way I feel afterward is all the reward I need. The competition is a footnote.
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