Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Emperor's New Clothes

As a participant and/or spectator at an Ironman, the event can be a little...disconcerting.  With day glo Newton shoes, compression socks, Breathe Right strips and lightweight aerobars you may feel a little like one of the royal subjects in The Emperor's New Clothes -- mindlessly following the crowd.

There are so many gadgets to buy into -- GPS systems, lightweight sunglasses, nutritional magic pills.  And as athletes, we are definitely doing just that.  We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve our times with lighter wheels and featherweight bicycles.

Take for instance the teardrop helmet.  These helmets were designed and wind-tunnel tested to be more aerodynamic than traditional cycling head gear.  Manufacturers suggest wearing one can help save from  30 to 60 seconds per hour on the bicycle.  This is great news to a triathlete.  And perhaps the idea of wearing something sleeker and lighter psychologically helps to improve the overall bike split as well.

Proceed with caution is what I say when considering all the latest Ironman gear.  We sometimes get hung on up what the Emperor is wearing and fail to recognize our "engine" is what will get us through that grueling day.

As I watched the Kona Championships this year, I noticed most of the athletes were wearing the teardrop helmets, except for two:  Chrissie Wellington and Craig Alexander, the two overall winners of the race.

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