Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why do triathletes love spandex?

It's past time for a blog.

In the past, I have been an obsessive blogger, and then, during one of the most interesting parts of my life... I stop? I mean, I actually have things to blog about now, like bike crashes and backpacking and surfing and... spandex...

I love triathlons. I mean, how can't you love something that can get 100-200 incredibly fit guys together in one place... and all wearing spandex, or some fancy technical variant? I'll tell you - it's not possible. Of course, there are lots of practical reasons for triathletes to wear those tight little race suits, shorts and tops. They dry quickly, which is important when you have to start all of your races with a swim. They provide some compression, which is good for your muscles. They don't have any drag in the wind. They're comfortable and breathe well. Spandex is God's gift to competitive endurance athletes. But you want to know the real reason we all like to wear spandex? A week ago I went to Richardson Bike Mart with some friends so one of them could buy his first tri suit. He was excited. Like... really excited. So we get there, and he goes through all the normal parts of the process of purchasing tri attire... "Uh... it all looks really small." "Holy shit, have you seen how expensive this is?!" "Oooo... feel this one..." And so finally he gets in a dressing room with a few different options to try on. First question: "Is this too tight?" Oh you poor newbie. Once we assured him that what he had on was, in fact, NOT too tight, he looked in the mirror again. Looked at his arm. Kind of... flexed his arm. A little. Then flexes both arms. Then smiles a little at his reflection. THERE IT IS! The first moment of "Damn. I look good in this." You see, triathlon training requires an intense combination of cardio and strength training, and triathletes are (rightfully so) proud of what they've worked for. Modest? No. Endearing? Probably not. But we do like to see ourselves in some skin tight stretchy stuff. Think middle school girl buying her first dress for the school dance. We're about twenty times worse. I promise you whatever we buy, we either use immediately, or go model it in front of our mirror later that day (if not immediately after we get home). We walk around in it. Check out our butt. Check how our calf and quad muscles look. Admire the way it accents our shoulder muscles. If you haven't seen it before, just find a triathlete to go shopping with - it will be worth your time.

It took me a little longer to find a my first suit. I bought one when I was just coming out of my running phase and into actually triathlon training, so I wasn't exactly a svelte, sculpted athlete. I was pretty thin, but what I did have was not rock solid. Or, even... like rock in any way. And of course I was used to being around a bunch of stick figure runners who made even me look like I needed to lay off the Shipley's. So the first time I picked a two piece suit up off the rack I was, needless to say, a bit intimidated. I took about 30 possible options into the dressing room and emerged, half an hour later, with ONE that I felt mildly comfortable with. And even that one made me think, "Damn... ok, 300 crunches a day is definitely not enough." Now? I'm just as shameless as everyone else in the sport. My favorite pair of tri shorts have a three-inch inseam, and I can't WAIT for our team's new race suits to get here so I can have the head-to-toe spandex experience. Of course, doing my first naked 5K this past October definitely helped get me there. Spandex seems like pretty mild stuff after that.

It's ok if you judge me for liking to see lots of fit guys in skin tight stuff. I don't blame you. It's shallow and superficial - but it totally makes getting up for races at 4:00AM a whole hell of a lot easier. And, ok, let's be honest, not everyone in the tri world is exactly at the 4% body fat hardcore athlete point yet (I know I'm not), so we get to see a little bit of everything displayed underneath that spandex... And I like that. I like that people are comfortable enough with themselves and serious enough about getting fit that they're willing to rock the spandex those first few times when they're maybe not exatly the ones the opposite sex is swooning over. I like that the tri community is cool enough to want to help and encourage these people, instead of looking down on them. I like that occasionally, those guys are the ones who zoom by me on the bike portion going like 27+ mph (ok, I never really like getting passed... but it's ok every once in a while). Anyways, like I said - I love triathlon. What a great sport.

I'm glad to be back in the world of blogging. I kept this post light because... it's the first one. You can't get heavy right away. But there's been some heavy stuff going on recently. So if you want to know more... then stay tuned for more updates on my adventures in the world of triathlon.

No comments:

Post a Comment