Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Faster, Higher, Poorer

Yesterday I had an epiphany.

But first, an update as the foundation for my epiphany…

Since my last post I have delved into the unknown world of triathlons. I know it sounds weird that I would try to add two more sports when I’m still so bad at running. The problem was that the thought of another full marathon didn’t make me nervous enough to be absolutely disciplined when it came to training, and I desperately need disciplined training so I don’t turn into Jabba the Hutt.  So, what better way to make myself nervous than to risk drowning or crashing into things at high speed?

I had had a triathlon in the back of my mind for a while but had resisted because triathlons can be really expensive. In addition to all the running stuff that I already had, there’s swim gear (goggles, swimsuit for training, wetsuit for racing, etc.) and the access to a pool that you have to pay for every month. That stuff can really add up.

But where the sticker shock really hits is with the biking. Just the gear like a helmet, tire pump, special clothes, etc. can be anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. And of course you have to have a bike, and those can cost several hundred or several thousand dollars, or more.

There are a lot of options when it comes to the bike, depending on whether or not you are the CEO of a major corporation. I looked on Craig’s List for used bikes but either they were too small for my body (yes, they have sizes) or, even though they were used, they were still too expensive.

Since I am not a CEO I didn’t have a lot of money to plunk down on this, especially since I didn’t know whether I would like it. So after looking around a while and pilfering my kids’ piggy banks, I got the cheapest road bike I could find that had decent reviews on Amazon. $189. Those of you that know bikes know that $189 for a road bike is super cheap, and that’s because it is probably a piece of junk. I am happy to say that it is slightly better than a piece of junk. Slightly.

So I got the cheapest I could find of everything else I absolutely needed and competed in my first triathlon in May. The swim at the beginning went well. I was actually passing people in my age group, which is a new thing for me.

The run at the end went as well as could be expected. Slow and steady with a respectable kick at the end.

However, the bike portion in the middle was terrible. People were passing me like I was going backwards. I was huffing and puffing and my hips felt like they were being ripped apart by crowbars. It was not a pleasant experience.

The trouble on the bike was not really unexpected. I had had mechanical trouble with the bike in the weeks leading up to the race and didn’t get to train on it much.

So I chalked that race up to experience and, after some thought, decided to try another one in September.

I have been training on my junky bike and going farther and faster each ride, to the point where I am not too shabby. Even though I have gotten much better, I know that because my bike is so junky, people are still going to be passing me on race day. There’s not much I can do about that, except get a better bike… a $900 - $2,000 better bike.

Okay, now for the epiphany. And sorry it took so long to get here.

I realized that I will never, ever, win a race. I won’t even place in my age group… ever.

So what am I racing for? To win? Nope. My only goal is to improve my fitness, my mental toughness, and test the limits of what I can do, to be better than I was last time. If I'm just trying to beat former me then it will do me absolutely no good to get a better bike, as long as my junky bike is still working. Biking faster because of an expensive bike will only tell me that I have a better bike. It doesn’t say anything about me or my progress to my goals. That is only shown when all external things are equal.

Maybe someday I’ll upgrade, after they finally make me CEO.


 So, if you've spent all your money buying bike gear too and can't afford marshmallows, these Rice Crispy treats are awesome. I actually prefer them to the boring run-of-the-mill kind.

Peanut Butter Rice Crispies


1 cup corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice crispies
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz butterscotch chips


Combine corn syrup and sugar in large pan. Bring to boil. Remove to heat and stir in peanut butter. Mix well. Add rice crispies and mix well. Press into 9X13 pan. Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips, use to coat top of rice crispies squares. Cool, then serve. Try not to eat them all at once.

Thanks for the recipe Cecilee!


  1. So, I've been wondering: do you think the whole sugar addiction thing is because of a northern European heritage or being raised in Mormon Utah? Nature or nurture? Either way, it makes it impossible to stay as thin as I was in high school.

    It's nice to hear from you Cameron. Good luck with the triathlons and marathons and mud-whatever-that-was. (I've been secretly thinking of trying a marathon, but I should probably start with a 5k - or maybe just around the block! - just in case.)

  2. I think people naturally have a vice or two, and what we Mormons miss out on in terms of booze and smokes we make up for in cookies and ice cream. Our neighbors think we're crazy because we bring over goodies about once a week.

    Good luck with your running dreams. In order to accomplish them it does help to actually run!

    It was good to hear from you too.

  3. Hi Son,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog. You look pretty buff in that picture and I love the cap! You have quite a flair (with writing if not quite yet for winning triathlons). I'm proud of you for your determination. If you want to go on a run in October when you're here, I'm game for a bike ride to accompany you.

  4. I just recently did a sprint triathlon and was training with a mountain bike. The most I could get out of that Walmart special was about 12 mph average. Then my daughter, math whiz, explained why I should be using a nice road bike. They go faster for a reason, they are easier to make go down the road. Over a 9 mile bike course I finish 10 minutes faster on the road bike and it was an easy ride to boot. I needed all of that 10 minutes and less effort so I could run the foot race. Short comment, a nice bike makes for a more enjoyable run.