Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ironman on TV

For the past few Sundays, VS has been televising some of the Ironman events from the past year. I watch most of them knowing the results, but interested in seeing how the races have unfolded on camera. I've watched the half from St. Croix, and the fulls at Louisville, Arizona, Lake Placid and Wisconsin. It's amazing stuff to watch.

Last night I attacked the big one that taped from Saturday - NBC's coverage of the Hawaii Ironman. Normally you can't watch this without tears as they tell some over the top story of the person who overcame some terrible tragedy. This year was a little different. Gone were the Dick Hoyts, or the Brian Boyles. There were a couple of inspiring tales, mostly serving as fodder to get you to join the Navy I think.

But a large part of it focused on the pain of this race, and how it affects even the most seasoned pros. The two winners, Craig Alexander and Chrissie Wellington, both owned their races and looked cool doing it. Just about everyone else seemed to get crushed by it. As a professional, whose season and life centers around this race, I just don't get how they can all be destroyed by it. But, I understand how they can be destroyed by it, having gone through a few terrible experiences this year myself.

So Arjun and I watched the coverage and were pretty amazed at the race, and then it got me thinking - what am I doing?? This is going to really hurt, and I've got a year to get ready for it and the course doesn't seem all that challenging. I suppose that's relative, because the distance is the same, and flatter courses pose the challenge of having to pedal the whole time; 3 lap courses get boring; Arizona's pretty warm.

We'll see how things go. I'm on track for a pretty decent week, hoping to get in another 100 or so miles of riding this weekend, with about 45 miles of running and 12,000m in the pool. Next week with Wednesday through Sunday off I'll look to make a big week on the bike, so I need to make sure I get my bike problem worked out quick!

1 comment:

Senior_Slug said...

The Ironman coverage is not produced by NBC sports but by an independent producer. Contractually it's more like an infomercial than a sporting event. The producers are responsible for selling the advertising. In order to buy the time the advertisers are lined up ahead of time. It helps sell advertising if there is a link into the coverage of the product advertised. The coverage is formulaic and has been that way for a number of years.
Despite the formula real thing seem to happen during the race but the producers flat out missed them this year. The contrived stories fell flat and the real stories were just out of reach.

What they missed -- the identical twins doing the race together and finishing together. Great story but missed. The racer whose race was deferred for a couple of years so that he could take care of his ailing father. The scene at the finish line of which we got just a glimpse was full of pathos.
What they covered -- I'm sorry but the Navy guys came off as shallow and pretentious. Norman Stadler is very uncharismatic so it was hard to get excited about his finish.
I thought that they overdid the race is so freaking hard so if you do it you are so special theme this year. That's not to say that the race isn't hard. That's not say that it isn't a singular accomplishment. But it wasn't all that ...