Thursday, July 3, 2008

How Long is Too Long to Wear Your Ironman Wristband?


This question is more complicated than it seems, as there is no concrete answer. Sure, pros might tell you it's ridiculous to wear the little plastic thing a day after the race is over. But those guys are just going to get another wristband in a few months, and probably already have an arsenal of M-Dot glory in the form of giant paychecks, and trophies. Age groupers can keep the wristband on to prolong their Ironman experience, which more than likely only comes once a year, or once in a lifetime.

Ironman wristband

Many factors contribute to the final decision to remove the wristband, including, but not limited to:

Ironman Tattoo

  • M-Dot tattoos. If you already have one, the wristband is overkill. Unless it's a pretty color and you're keeping it on for fashion reasons, in which case don't be surprised if Stacy and Clinton from TLC's What Not To Wear show up at your door uninvited and ream you for more than just your wristband transgression. They might even slay you for your Crocs.

  • Size. If the kind volunteer who put yours on made it too loose, it's bound to get all wrinkly and warped faster than if it fits nice and snug. When it looks like a piece of trash is on your left wrist, it's time to let it go.

  • Color. This year's sparkly silver bands look much more like jewelry than IMAZ's hot green one from '07, making it easier to slip by your boss, clients, wife, etc...

  • Meaning. If the Ironman's over but you still can't let it go, and don't want to commit to a tattoo, keep the bracelet on for a while. After about a week, it'll loose the writing, and become a personal symbol of triumph. Of course, if your motivation in keeping the thing on is to brag, you probably felt blessed to get the hot green wristband. However, after a few weeks, people will start asking what club was so cool that getting in warranted wearing the wristband for weeks--or even months. To which you can reply, "Ironman, baby!" (If you haven't already read the 6-step guide "How to Brag About Doing an Ironman, read it here.")

  • IM quantity. A newly anointed Ironman will be more apt to wear the bracelet longer, get the tattoo, and wear all of his finisher gear every day. This fact is based on no scientific data whatsoever, just pure observation and experience. I kept my first IM bracelet on, in all of its hot green glory, from the day of the race until I had to cut it off for engagement photos or forever endure the wrath of my very fashionable mother. That was an entire 6 months. And to go completely "Clarissa Explains it All", I didn't take any race bracelets off for the entire year. (She had at least 3 large watches on her wrist in every episode. I thought she was so cool.) My left wrist was entirely impenetrable to the sun and looked like another person's skin when they all came off, making some interesting formal photos.

So to wear your wristband or to not wear your wristband? It's a very personal decision that cannot be taken lightly. Once you cut that sucker off, there's no getting it back.

Are you wearing it to brag? Alternatives to keeping your wristband on for bragging purposes are stocking up on temporary M-Dot tattoos (then putting them in very obvious places), wearing finisher stuff everywhere, or getting inked.

Ironman socks

If you're just keeping it on for self-empowerment purposes, you could consider getting some temporary tattoos, and putting them in places only you see (oh la la!), drawing a little M-Dot on yourself somewhere with a Sharpie, wearing M-Dot socks, or not-so-subtly uploading your finisher photos to Facebook and setting the IM album to allow anybody and everyone on the net see it. For indirect bragging, Facebook's where it's at.

Happy training!



PS. Mine's still on from June...

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