Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Triathlon: A post modern, deconstructionist, feminist analysis incorporating chaos theory and linguistic analysis.

Actually no. Don’t worry – I’m just the product of a 1990’s art degree program. If I couldn’t get all the above into one of my papers then there just wasn’t any sense in handing the thing in. As an aside, during my time at university I determined that 2 beers was the perfect alcohol consumption level for me to illuminate my thoughts on anything while still able to include the above. Less than two and I could realize how silly it all was, more than two and I had a hard time getting chaos theory in there.

But, a little of the skill and desire to break things down and look at them in a different light seems to have be retained.

When I was growing up in the wilds of Canada, small town Canada, there was just one sport. Can we guess what that was? Yes - it was all about HOCKEY. I hated hockey. Hockey to me was an endless punishment – as the youngest with 4 older brothers I had to accompany everyone everywhere for tournament after tournament. I can still smell hockey arenas – I can still hear the sound that the bleachers made as I ran endlessly around and around in absolute mind numbing, resentful boredom.

As a girl I could, and did, take figure skating but figure skating was all about pretty outfits, pretty girls and a lot of money for coaches. It was, and I still think is, the sport of cliqued femininity. (Although I love to watch ice dancing still, my post modern, deconstructionist, feminist education has slightly ruined it all for me.) There certainly wasn’t any cash left over for coaches for me, even if I had shown any talent, which I didn’t, and I never looked pretty in any of the outfits that I ever got my hands on. So somewhere around 14 or so I stopped skating. That was the end of my athletic life. That, after all, was the end of my parent’s athletic vision for girls. I think I was expected to then learn to cook and sew so I could get me a good husband; I just got a job and started working.

Now, in small town Ontario, there was an endless succession of young men from other small towns who were signed up for the local Junior A team – their proving ground for the NHL. If I could sum up these boys in one word that would be – sleezy. Actually I need a second word – violent. Sleezy and violent. Most probably just needed to grow up and missed the firm hand of their parents. They were, after all, only 16 years old, living with foster families or in local small motels, playing hockey, partying, and passing a select few girls (often figure skaters) around. I was smart enough to stay out of that scene and combined with a far too intimate knowledge of the habits of my youngest brother’s hockey friends it left me with a distinct disgust of team sports – especially hockey.

Which was too bad because that meant that I wasn’t open to the joy of sport.

My journey into individual sport started in 1981 with Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. Inspired by him, a friend and I started running in the morning. I have a vague memory that some sort of run was held but no memory of actually doing a formal event. I do remember the training and how much I enjoyed it. Yet somehow, even though my best friend in high school ran on the track team, I never even considered doing that. I won’t lie, I would have sucked but that’s not what kept me from it. That, very simply, was because no one ever said, “hey, why don’t you try running on the team”.

Fast forward through a montage of me running on and off through time at school and work. Slow down the camera as you get to my husband and I dragging our fat slow bodies through life. Zoom in on his pack a day smoking habit.

Somehow we made the connection and started to get active again. I took us on death marches all over the city. We bought a cottage and started to swim. We bought a house close to a pool so we could swim there. Alex quit smoking. We started running. We bought bikes. We started racing. We never looked back.

So, where’s the post modern, deconstructionist, feminist analysis incorporating chaos theory and linguistic analysis of triathlon you ask. Well thanks for sticking around this long. That would be a whole bunch of BS and my sport deserves better. The reason I love it - short and sweet. Men and women race the same distances. Men and women race the same events. There are no enforcers, no goons, and no swim/bike/run bunnies. It’s not a male sport, not a female sport, and you can spectate and participate at the same time. It’s not cheap either financially or in terms of the time it asks from you but the payback is priceless.


  1. But can humans do it, or do you have to be super-human?

  2. All humans are super-human, in my book.