Monday, April 28, 2008

So this morning I learned I'm a "Road Rat"...

For my Ironman training, I swim my laps 4 times a week at the local YMCA. I'm one of these people that comes in, says good morning or hello to everyone I see, put my stuff in my locker, head out to the pool and do my laps, come back in and shower, and head home. I'm pretty focused on what I'm doing, and although I am friendly to everyone, I don't have time for a whole lot of locker room small talk.

I've never quite been able to figure out why, but for whatever reason, it seems that the majority of the pure cyclists seem to really look down on runners. On Saturday mornings when I'm doing my long runs, there is a large group of sometimes a couple of hundred cyclists that will go by me on the road. I'll typically say good morning to them as they pass by, but very rarely do I get a response back. It's not going to stop me from continuing to be friendly, it's just my nature.

Well, this morning at the YMCA, as I'm getting dressed for my swim, there were a group of cyclists who had just finished their workout talking in the locker room. These guys are probably in their 40's like me. I'm not sure they have any idea at all that I'm a runner or training for an Ironman, nor is it important to me that they do know. For whatever reason, one of them was really belittling runners, and told the others that when his bike group sees one of us on the side of the road, they'll say "there's another Road Rat" to each other. He even went so far to say how pompous the people in his own riding group can be. I'm not quite so sure that's something to be proud of, and makes another argument for me as to why I prefer to train totally alone.

I kept my thoughts to myself, as well as the question that was going through my mind, "Why do they call us a Road Rat?" As I was swimming I thought about how sad it is that people will put down others doing something when they truly don't understand it. I've never understood why someone would only like to cycle, but you don't hear me going around calling them gerbils because they are spinning a wheel for hours. I also wonder if they know that Lance, the king of their sport, said that marathoning was far tougher than anything he had ever done in cycling or in the Tour de France. I also doubt if they realize that when a runner is tired when they reach the top of a hill, that runners don't have the luxury of sitting back and coasting down to the bottom on the other side if they so choose. Our quads hurt even worse on the downhill side, and even Lance said that the downhills at the Boston Marathon really took a toll on him, something I doubt he ever said on the downhills of a cycling event.

So, this "Road Rat" is proud to run on. I'm just wondering what I'm supposed to be called as a triathlete...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 Boston Marathon - I'm confused, did Lance win the race?

I am a pretty easy-going person, not a lot gets under my skin, but Lance's finish at the Boston Marathon yesterday really has me steamed. Let me explain...

As a 3-time Boston Marathoner, I understand what it means to qualify and what a tremendous blessing it is to be a part of the race. I was excited as always to watch the race yesterday, and both the women's and men's winners were phenomenal efforts. Once they had crossed the finish line and broken the tape, they both gave humbling interviews about their success. Folks, THEY were the winners of their respective categories, there should be no more finish line tapes to be broken through, period.

Several minutes later, they join the coverage of Lance, and pretty much follow him in non-stop over his last 4-5 miles. I was impressed with the fact that he qualified, with the fact that he was not given a race spot like other celebrities have received in the past, that he can run a sub-3:00 marathon which I could not do in my wildest dreams, and especially his raising money for charity. Other than that, he is simply another runner out there and should be treated exactly as such.

The race goes on with Lance, he turns onto Boylston Street heading down the last few hundred yards to the finish, the crowds are cheering for everyone...

...and then it happens. He gets to within 25 yards or so of the finish, "appears" to be a bit confused as to where he is supposed to go, and then is directed off to the right BY HIMSELF AWAY FROM THE OTHER RUNNERS, and lo and behold what is awaiting him???????? His own personal tape to break at the finish line! Are you kidding me? I have no idea who thought that up, but it was 100% TOTALLY WRONG. His effort to run that race was no better than the people that finished ahead of him nor the people that finished behind him, but he gets a finisher's moment and photo breaking the tape?????? My hope is that Lance did not know they were going to do this and that the BAA rethink ever doing anything like this again. If he did know they were going to do this, it is one of the most ultimate ego "hey look at me" things I have ever witnessed, and ratchets down my respect factor for him considerably. A classy move would have been to wave them off and continue across the regular finish line like everyone else.