Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Olympic pose

The final race of my triathlon season was this past weekend in Dallas...The US Open Triathlon. Sounds pretty big and official. It actually was a pretty big race in the triathlon world. It was a championship event for pros and amateurs alike (guess which is which in the photo above?!!).
It's really a cool event from the standpoint that it's a who's-who in the pro ranks. First let me start by saying it was an Olympic distance event (1500m swim, 25 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run). As the distance name suggests it's the distance they use for the Olympics....and Olympians were there including Hunter Kemper pictured above with that amateur. Kemper didn't actually race in the event, his season was over, he was just there to support it. But Matt Reed (Olympian) was there as was Andy Potts, Greg Bennett (winner on the day and winner of the series), his wife Laura (Olympian), Sarah Haskins (Olympian), Becky Lavelle, Mirinda Carfrae and Joanna Zeiger to name a few. These are the top names in short course racing. Some will compete this weekend in Kona for the Ironman World Championship (Potts, Zeiger).
It's one of the reasons I like competing in triathlons. In no other sport can you perform with the best in the world, on the same day, on the same course, at the same time (well, ok, they were way in front of me, so technically it wasn't AT the same time but it was, well, very ....ish-like). It's fun to watch them perform and then be able to say, "I competed with them that day." It's also fun to watch them prepare for the race. They each have their own routine.
Also, these pros just look different than everybody else. There's no question when you see a pro, even if you don't know who they are, you know they're not your average amateur. They're very athletic looking, skinny with zero body fat.
These pros are also very approachable and friendly. Hunter Kemper (finished 7th in the Olympics) couldn't have been nicer. He asked my name, talked with me a little, signed an autograph (there's just something about a 44-year-old man asking for an autograph - I don't know, it's weird) and took a picture with me. Nice guy. As a thank you I gave him a Big Mac, some fries and a shake and told him to put some meat on his bones!
Seriously, though, being that thin is one of the sacrifices of being a triathlete at that level. You have to carry as little weight as possible yet maintain enough muscle mass to power you through an event. Being that skinny is also a by product of endurance training. These athletes take in a lot of calories everyday....they just burn a lot as well. You remember the story about Michael Phelps. He consumes between 8,000 - 10,000 calories a day! Yet he has the body that he does. Same with these triathletes.
Back to Kemper for a second and then I'm finished. During the course of the conversation the Olympics, obviously, came up and we (my brother-in-law, Trey, was with me, got his picture taken with him as well, and an autograph {it's equally weird for a 39-year-old to ask for an autograph}) asked him what his plans were for the rest of the season. He said his season was over and that he's having hernia surgery next week. Said it's been bothering him for a while. The guy was having hernia issues during the Olympics and still finished 7th...pretty impressive!
Good luck Hunter. Thanks for the conversation. You've got two new fans.

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