Saturday, August 15, 2009


(56 days until Ironman)

"Alan Webb is the best thing to happen in this event, but professionals and collegiates don't want to lose to high school guys.I don't want to lose to no one."-- Gabe Jennings, 1500 heat winner on the first day of USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships in 2001. The 18-year-old Webb, a senior at South Lakes High School from Reston, Virginia, went on to run a 3:53.43 mile to break Jim Ryan's 36 year old national high school record (3:55.3), once thought to be untouchable.

I've always compared myself with other people and rated myself accordingly. Whether it is on the job, drawing, photography or, especially now, swimming, biking and running, where everyone seems to be younger, faster, stronger, healthier and have a lot more hair than I do.

One of the first things I learned living in Kona and training for triathlon is that you CANNOT compare yourself with whom you may be training next to because that guy or gal just might be a world record holder, a world champion at swimming, biking or running, or all three. Or they may be a future record holder — we have scores of talented kids all over the place here who swim like fish, bike like Lance and run like, yeah, I'll say it, run like the wind, and they fly by me like I'm going in reverse.

It's pretty easy to beat yourself up and get discouraged with all the talent in Kona. But it is also the best place in the world to train. Where else can you swim with someone who holds dozens of world records or who swam with and coached some of the best swimmers in the world? Or bike with the likes of Lance Armstrong, Yvonne Van Vlerken (second at last year's Ironman World Championship behind Chrissie Wellington), or Bree Wee, who is going to rock the sport of triathlon soon. Or run with Chris McCormick or Chris Lieto or former marathoner Frank Shorter, or any number of local age groupers who can rival the pros on any given day. Most places you just have the local age groupers or club standouts to compare yourself with.

So on those days when I'm feeling slow, out of shape, balding and just plain old, I take a look at who I'm comparing myself to and sometimes I have to smile. Even though I come up way short, I'm lucky enough to be able to compare myself with some pretty good company. And as long as McCormick, Lieto and a few others keep shaving their heads, at least I won't come up short on the balding part ...

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