Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Cure for Iron(man) Deficiency: Covering Ironman

Last Saturday, I put my multimedia skills to the test.

Armed with my dad's Canon EOS Digital Rebel, my Canon ZR10 (yes it's old...and awesome), my dad's tripod, and one spare Lithium Ion battery (yes, all of my equipment magically took the same exact type of battery), I entered Tempe Beach Park around 6am and got crackin' on what would become the greatest of all Ironman tales.

I flashed my media wristband (see below), and entered transition, voyeuristically filming people bodygliding it up, yanking on wetsuits, and doing other strange things that aspiring Ironmen do just before they are herded in to dark, cold water at 6:45am on a Sunday.

I had one goal in mind: to tell a story about normal people doing Ironman. If that sounds ridiculously boring, let me explain. Typical Ironman media involves pro coverage, and coverage of the most inspiring story of overcoming all odds to complete an Ironman. Not to disregard the importance of these stories, because they must be told and deserve to be told, but there are over 2,000 other people competing who aren't pro and have never lost a limb. Or had a sex change and done Ironman both as Sam and as Samantha. (Although if that were to occur, and I don't think it has, I would gladly tell that story.)

Perhaps the predictable coverage has something to do with the fact that although our sport is a huge part of our (triathletes) lives, it isn't a huge part of the general population's life. Therefore, there aren't enough media people to tell the bazillion rad stories that come packaged with an event of this magnitude. So they stick to the pros and the stories of inspiration that always make me cry.

Enter the unpaid grad student.

I don't know if my story of fat boy becomes triathlete, meets girl, trains with girl, marries girl, then does IMAZ with girl will make anyone cry. But who said the amount of tears shed is directly proportional to the informational or entertainment value of a story?

So while the other media people were scrambling to catch the pros coming out of the water, I flashed my wristband and strolled on into the wetsuit stripping area to film my couple getting stripped. Unfortunately, I missed the middle-aged guy who sat down with a poo-eating grin on his face then had his wetsuit torn off to reveal, to the horror of his strippers and glee of the spectators, his shiny tiny thong.

Eventually, my assistant, coachubby, and I worked out a system where he would stand on the lookout for my couple, call me when they were approaching, and then I'd turn on my video camera and chase them around in transition.

Being in the action did something to me. It reignited the Ironman flame. I strayed with ultracycling this year after becoming a little triathletically disillusioned (sports psychology term), but the excitement of the racers, the enthusiasm of the volunteers, and the fun of being at home did something to my brain. I want to go back. And I want to kick ass.

Coachubby and I signed up for 2010 the next day.

See you out there!

And my Ironlove story will come just in time for xmas. I'm taking my computer's death while working on that project as a sign that I should be studying for finals right now instead.

Plus my video camera hooked up to my computer via firewire. My new computer does not have a firewire port. Thank you, Mac. Suggestions on how to resolve this issue are greatly appreciated.

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