Tuesday, December 30, 2014

So you want to sign up for an IM?

So before you get to think too much about your reasoning behind deciding to do an IM distance event - reasoning which we will get into later in this series - you need to go ahead and sign up for one. As preposterous as that may seem, it is quite true for the most popular IM distance events in the US.  And yes, I am going to focus on US events because I am in love with America and don’t care too much about any other countries.  

For the record, that last sentence is a joke.

On the one hand this phenomenon is a bit ridiculous. But on the other hand, it encourages you - as an athlete - to be extremely proactive.

The “phenomenon” of which I am speaking is the fact that for many of Ironman’s iron-distance events you need to sign up about a year in advance. Races like Florida, Arizona, Chattanooga, Lake Placid and Wisconsin all sell out quite quickly. Don’t be fooled by going to Ironman.com and clicking through their race list and seeing some races still show as “open” because that can ALSO include registrations available via the Foundation slot method (twice the price, tax deductible entry fee of ~$1500) and Charity Partner method (raise money with race’s chosen charity for entry into race).

B2B 2009
At all races, the registration for the following year opens up in person the day after the race for volunteers at that year’s race, athletes at that year’s race, and general populace in person at that year’s race.  

This year saw an “historic” first at IM Arizona in that registration NEVER went online. That means that ALL general entry slots were filled in person AT the race site. Other races mentioned prior usually sell out within minutes online once registration opens.

That means that people are willing (and ABLE) to spend a fairly large chunk of hard-earned coinage a full year in advance, oftentimes having never done the race itself and many having never even done a triathlon to begin with (yes, that is not uncommon).  

Before you get nervous and worried that you won’t be able to get into a race that all your friends have done, rest assured that there are still some great options. Louisville, Boulder, and Lake Tahoe are all fabulous options that don’t seem to sell out for various reasons.

But really, once you’ve decided that you “need” to go ahead and sign up for an IM, the next step is deciding which is the RIGHT IM for you. Of course, I am making a leap of faith and assuming that ANY IM is “right” but I have already started down this path and have no further options.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Number Forty Two

“Forty two” seems like such a random number at first glance. For the baseball fans out there it has pretty special significance due to the fact that it was worn by two of baseball’s more celebrated players: Jackie Robinson and Mariano Rivera. So for baseball fans, this beginning will seem a bit inauspicious because of the sheer significance that number has for them. Bear with me, baseball fans.

Other than that (at least to the point that I am aware of) that number in and of itself means relatively nothing. It holds no special mathematical value that I’m aware of, but then again I am no expert on mathematics…

But for runners and, by extension, triathletes that number holds a very special significance in their minds. It is a love/hate relationship with that number because of what it represents.

me thinking about IM

The origin of that number’s importance traces back quite a ways and I honestly have no desire or intention of plagiarizing wikipedia’s great entry on the “marathon” so I will assume that most readers are educated - however basically - on what the “marathon” is and go from there.

Needless to say then is that a “marathon” is supposed to be 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers and about 165 additional meters or 42.2km. The same holds true for the run at the tail end of an Ironman (or, if you’re a copyright/trademark kinda reader, the full distance) triathlon.  Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 (ish), and run 42.2km or 26.2 miles to round off a long work-day.

I am reminded of this number for several reasons.

  1. I just signed up for 2015 Ironman Louisville on my 30th birthday. I had been contemplating this for a while for many reasons, a few of which I have discussed prior to this point in my blog.
  2. 2015 Ironman Louisville is exactly 42 weeks from now.
  3. Number 1 means I’ll be running 42.2k 42 weeks from now
  4. See?

To be honest, the concept of an Ironman is a fairly ridiculous athletic endeavour.  The sheer distance of the event and the “required” training for it (I use the word “required” somewhat loosely, for reasons which I am sure you can imagine as that completely depends on the context of the person doing the training) to be completed successfully are massive. The time investment is massive. The financial investment is massive. It causes stress for yourself, for your family, and at work among other places.

What’s the point then? Is it really worth all that so you can raise your hands in tired resignation at the finish line? What compels people to spend oodles of money in order to inflict pain, fatigue, and a general sense of suffering on themselves?

That’s a good question, one I have often asked of myself. I’ve also asked it of other people. Lots of other people. So far, there have been some interesting responses. I am excited to, over the course of the next 41ish weeks, share those with you. And many more anecdotes on IM racing. My usual blog stuff; you’re probably fairly used to it by now!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season for people to be selling their bikes for absolutely ridiculous prices on the used market. I would not say I have a "ton" of experience in retail and the selling of bicycles and their related equipment and accessories, but I would say I have more than "most" - especially considering "most" don't have any experience...

So I am a pretty fair judge of prices, I think. What a bike and/or equipment is "worth" to the average consumer.  To a certain extent what a bike is worth is whatever someone is willing to pay, but set prices narrow it down a little bit and consequently make life a little easier. I would guess that if someone walked into a bike shop and a price tag said "whatever you think this bike is worth" most people would "lie" and say "very little" (but we sure would sell a lot of bikes that way!).

There are a couple of different types of people that acquire really expensive and/or "nice" bikes:

1) Those that can actually afford them
2) Those that can't and receive some sort of "deal"

# 1 is not who I am concerned with on this day.

# 2 is the category that concerns me.

This group includes elite athletes, club athletes, buddies, etc that get a "deal" through some sort of "contract."

They could be a part of a "team" or they could be an individual "sponsored" by a shop or they could be "sponsored" by a company.  The list goes on and on... The point is, these types of people are either getting their bikes very discounted or they are getting them free.

This is the annoying group of people because then they turnaround and sell those bikes or that equipment. And they try to GOUGE you.

Here is a great example:

"FS: Litespeed Ci2 Ultegra Di2 sz 54"

blah blah blah ridden for a year blah

can come with blah for blah
or blah for blah
maybe some blah for other blah


or in its original build (original msrp $6000) for $2800

And so it is listed for sale.  Don't get me wrong, this is a really nice bike. The issue lies within the manner in which the seller is selling it.

First of all, the seller has listed all their sponsors down at the bottom of the post in their "signature." One of those sponsors is "Quintana Roo/Litespeed" (ABG).  So at the same time they are "marketing" their sponsorship they are selling a bike the user is supposed to think "retailed at $6000."

Second of all, the msrp of the bike doesn't matter once it has been used. It doesn't matter at all. This bike may have "msrp'd" at $6000 but you can buy it BRAND NEW for basically what the seller is asking.

Third of all, if this seller did not get this bike free I know exactly what he paid for it. And his asking price is gouging whoever buys this. No arguments there, even if the seller reads this. They'll know..

When you purchase a bike at a steep discount or get it for free or whatever you may get as a "sponsored" athlete you have an obligation, in my opinion, to "pay it forward." The goal of YOU getting the sponsorship or discount is because, in some way, you DESERVE it. You have helped the company or the business by purchasing that bicycle or accessories/equipment in the past. You have marketed that company/business to the general public in a positive way.

So when you turn around and sell the product (which is perfectly reasonable) you SHOULD offer it at a reasonable price. A "fair" deal so that the bike continues to enjoy life under someone who will APPRECIATE it and grow to love the company (hopefully). You don't get a free bike or a discount so you can MAKE money when you sell and buy/receive new bikes. That is not the point. The point is to grow the brand from whom you are receiving the relationship.

Right now is when a lot of people are selling bikes (myself included) to get something new for the upcoming year. If you are selling your bike, be fair. Be reasonable. If you are buying a bike from someone you assume gets a discount or product don't be afraid to call BS on them.

Happy Holiday Shopping, athletes.