I Want to Earn It

Yesterday, I learned that Tara Costa of Biggest Loser fame will be racing the Ironman World Championship in Kona this fall. She is my favorite contestant they’ve ever had on the show. She is fueled my a deep fire and I really appreciate her drive. Having said that—

I have mixed feelings about this development.

Before I entered the sport of triathlon, I would have been happy for her. I would have sat on my couch and rooted her on during the condensed 2-hour NBC coverage, completely clueless on how the qualification process works. And, I’m sure they will do a great job sharing her story.

But, now that I’m a triathlete and have completed an Ironman of my own, I want to hear the other stories. The stories of the men and women who sacrifice time with their friends and family, week-after-week, month-after-month, year-after-year, to get better at the sport through snow, rain, wind, intense heat, injuries, setbacks and small victories. Most World Championship qualifiers take a long time to get to that level. I know some incredibly talented athletes who have been doing this for years and are still chasing after that dream. I want to hear the stories of those who finally make it after countless hours of thankless training. Those stories need to be heard. People need to know how tough it is and how amazing these qualifiers are. I’ve heard from a very reputable source that Kona is a grueling race and that there is a reason you have to qualify—you have to be tough to race there.

I did not enter the Kona lottery this year and I’ve decided I never will. I want to earn my spot. I may never get to the Ironman World Championship, but I know that if I do, it will be because I earned it. It will be because I had put in the work necessary to elevate myself to that level. Until then, I will continue to focus on being the best I can be. That is what I can control and I know that there is more I can dig out of me if I remain persistent and patient. I’m pretty sure the temptation of NBC offering me a ‘special interest’ spot won’t be banging down my door any day soon.

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7 Responses to I Want to Earn It

  1. Rosalyn says:

    I agree with you. To earn a spot by working for it is what makes the experience amazing, and what makes it worth it.

  2. A balanced and thoughtful post! There was a lot of hate on the internet a year or two ago when Matt Hoover (winner of the only Biggest Loser season I ever watched, so I was more invested in it than I might have been o therwise) got a Kona spot. I was rooting for him – I didn’t think he was taking it for granted, and I think it is only realistic to assume that these big races with publicity needs will make that sort of arrangement now and again. He didn’t get an official finish, and this raises the other point: that Kona is a truly awful race for someone to do for their FIRST long-course triathlon! It would be better all round if they’d pick another IM race (Florida?) and do a separate TV special on 4-5 BL contestants training for it and racing it. I feel the same way about Boston and charity running – I understand that it’s an amazing charity fundraiser, but it really dilutes the spirit of the race, especially now that they’re going to be limiting enrollment even to qualifiers.

    • carlsincharge says:

      Thanks. I am very conflicted about the whole thing because I love the awareness that Biggest Loser brings to our overweight country. I rooted for Matt too (he’s local even!) but it seemed like he didn’t really train for it and it is such an honor to do that race. I don’t know if he really understood how much of an honor it is to start that race.

  3. Cathleen K says:

    Whoever the reputable source that Kona is a grueling race and the reason you have to qualify is because you have to be tough to race there must have been really, really wise. 🙂 The heart of the sport is in the age groupers all over the globe. There are also some really inspiring lottery winners, but I have mixed feelings about Biggest Losers competing in Kona. And I hope you know not all your training is thankless. Like last Sunday when we rode together, I was completely thankful for the company. Keep up the strong work, Carly. 6/26/11 is going to be a wonderful day for hard-working age groupers!

    • carlsincharge says:

      Thanks so much for riding with me. I really appreciate you! Part of me wishes that the Ironman lottery was a true lottery. Maybe it is, but I’m not convinced. I still think they’d find amazing stories if it was a true lottery. Almost everyone I know who does this sport has one. We are both going to have a great day in June!!

  4. heather says:

    I completely agree with you. A certain amount of publicity is great…for the race, and WTC (the corporation that owns Ironman). BUT it does frustrate the rest of us age groupers who want it (eventually) pretty bad, when you see her on TV so blase’ about it. When running the energy lab is the most painful 4 miles I’ve ever done…let alone the rest of the course. All I can say is, good luck with that Tara, I WAS a fan.

    • carlsincharge says:

      There are so many amazing age grouper stories that never see the light of day. I just get frustrated when, day-after-day, I get asked about what I’m training for and I say Ironman. Most people make me feel less-than when they ask if I’m doing the one in Hawaii and I say no, that is the World Championship. Ironman doesn’t just equal Kona!

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