Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'
-Martin Luther King, Jr
Happy Birthday, MLKII!
Taken out of context, that quote could be about triathlon (although I'm kinda glad it's not). In honor of his greatness, I had my own dream. Sure, it wasn't nearly as profound, moving, or intelligent as the good Reverend/ Doctor. But hey, who is? Anyone out there into dream analysis? Even if you suck at it, let me know what you think about this...
So, I enter this bar in what feels like New Mexico but is labeled as Texas. There's a buzz happening and a bunch of media-type people are getting ready for a press conference. Now, I have never been to a press conference, I have no idea what people do to get ready for a press conference, but those facts do not change the concept that the media-type people were definitely getting ready for a press conference.
I am wearing my Ironman New Mexico finisher's t-shirt. Even in the dream state, my conscious self is surprised by this fact. I rarely wear a finisher's shirt in public. I have never done an Ironman outside of Lake Placid. And there is no IMNM. The dream just made it up.
I mosey on up to the bar because there are not many places where moseying is appropriate. When given the opportunity to mosey, you'd be wise to seize it. I take a seat next to some dude in a yellow shirt who is surrounded by a couple of assistants. A big shot. Alpha dog. I order up a Jack on the Rocks. This is my go-to drink when I'm trying to be a man or hanging out with college idiots. Since I haven't had the need for either manship or college kids, it's been a while since Uncle Jack has visited my palate. But, there's another Alpha in the room and the male ego gene dictates that there can be only one top dog. It might not be me but I'm gonna put myself in position just in case. Real men are judged by what they drink, right?
Lance tells me that at today's press conference, he's gonna break the news that he's finally going to race Kona. I remain passive. There has been speculation that he's going to get back into triathlon on an annual basis since he retired from professional cycling. I'm pretty sure that he's done a few Xterra races (the off-road kind) but the tri people want him back on the road. Some want to know how he'd do against the big guns in an Ironman. Lance got his athletic start as a triathlete. He was usurped into cycling. He has retired and still rides. He's done a marathon (sub 3 hours at that). It seems only natural that he'd go back to his roots and tri again.
Inside, I am stewing but continue to hide it. I turn my back to the bar and mimic his position (ignoring the fact that I had already done this move earlier in the dream). I sip my Jack. "So, what to you think?" Glad he asked. Any involvement by Lance Armstrong in triathlon is bound to be good for the sport. Sure, there are some out there who think he's a dirty, doped-up, cheat poser. I'm not on that list. I'm also not in the Lance-is-a-God club. However, he is a proven endurance athlete and I think it would be kick-ass to race against him in any capacity. In my dream state, I'd know that I could beat him. In my reality state, I may not be fit enough to wipe his brow.
"Lance," I start (apparently we are on a first name basis. After all, I am drinking Jack), "You certainly have the right to race on the Big Island." Which is true. Lance could show up on race day and they'd probably waive the "No race day registration' rule for him. He wouldn't do that. Lance knows that marketing makes him money since he is no longer biking for cash. Any race director would swoon at the opportunity to advertise Lance in the starting line-up, including any race hosted by the WTC.
"However, there are some in the world of triathlon who would hate you more." I have no idea how many people in the tri-world hate him nor can I quantify the level of hatred these people have. The statement still stands.
"If you really wanted to announce something great and earn the respect of your triathlon brethren, you'd qualify." I believe this to be a true statement as well. There are some people who are above the qualification process. There are corporate slots. There are celebrity slots. Yet, the hard working blokes in the sport have to vie for a few hundred slots world wide. That is the main reason that IM Kona maintains its mystique. You have to earn your way in. I have been trying to earn my slot for years and have failed at each attempt. When famous people just walk-on, some feel slighted. Not me. He's not taking my slot. He's in a different age group this year. Still, if a guy like Lance Armstrong decided that he was going to prove that he had what it takes to earn a slot, my personal respect for him would increase dramatically. And, we all know that a guy like Lance wants nothing more than to gain the Banter's personal respect.
The gnat-like assistants make their way back to the bar. The one with compound eyes and antennae whispers in his ear. Useless gesture. It's my dream and I hear everything. It's time for the press conference. Lance puts his half-drunk white wine spritzer on the bar and pays for both his and my drink. I nod my approval and he winks at me. Suddenly, the bar takes on the appearance of a press room you see after a baseball game. He makes his way up to the press conference table and takes a seat. There's a logo draped over the front of the table. My guess is that it would normally say, "LiveStrong." It doesn't. It is just a red circle with the word "Lance".
"I'm here to announce that I will be competing in the Ironman New Mexico with the hopes of qualifying in my age group for the Ironman World Championships in Kona next October."
The phantom Uncle Jack had made its metabolic way through my system thus applying the necessary pressure to encourage consciousness. I was in a good mood.