The One Piece of Gear You Must Have

Among my close friends I am referred to as the “CGO” or Chief Gear Officer. I read all sorts of magazines and websites about gear of all sorts. From electronic gadgets, to bike parts, to shoe technology I love it all.

As we learned in “How to get Good at Anything” you don’t need the best gear to get good at something. But, the exception that proves the rule is the one piece of gear that you cannot live without.

This gear is the most expensive piece of gear I have and it takes the most maintenance of all the gear I have. And you DESPERATELY NEED IT.

The One Must Have Piece of Gear

The only piece of gear that is a must have is a support network of friends and family who cheer you on.

If that sounds cheesy to you, read on…

A Short Explanation of Triathlon

For those who aren’t familiar with triathlon racing; let’s talk about triathlon for a second . There are several different distances from shortest to longest:

  • Super-Sprint
  • Sprint
  • Intermediate/Olympic
  • Half
  • Full

Most of the time the full and half triathlons include the “Ironman” brand; but that is a whole different conversation.

A triathlon is an endurance race made up of three disciplines: Swimming, Cycling, and Running. You do each of these consecutively in that order until the end of the race.

An Ironman consists of these distances: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run. A total of 140.6 miles for the race. A Half-Ironman consists of (wait for it) half of those distances: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. A total of 70.3 miles for the race.

Now we have the table set. We all understand how long and grueling these races are, the gear story is below.

2014 Half-Ironman – Augusta, GA

This was my third attempt at completing the Half-Ironman distance. My first and second attempts fell apart at the beginning because I was such a poor swimmer. (We are definitely going to be talking about swimming at some point in the future.)

The cost for race entry is around $600. When you add food, hotel, and travel the race weekend alone will cost you around $1,500. So it was no small thing when my friends, Matt Thien, Joe Bland, and Brian Dawson also signed up to race with me.

Brian and I have been friends since 1994. Brian is the marathon runner from the “How to Get Good at Anything” post. He’s also a very fast triathlon racer and is the reason we all decided to start doing these races in the first place.

We all had different starting times for the race. I watched as each of the other guys started their race minutes ahead of me. We calculated our estimated finish times and I slotted myself at around 7 hours 30 minutes. Brian and Matt thought they could do around 5 hours, and Joe was in the 6 hour range.

The gun sounded and I hit the water for a 1.2 mile swim. About 400 yards into the swim I heard someone call my name. It was weird because I was in the middle of the river. Everyone I knew was either on the shore too far away to discern their voice or swimming ahead of me in in the churning water of 2,500 swimmers.

It was Brian. As we paused together treading water I asked him what he was doing. He said, “Today is your day. I’m going to stick close to you all day and make sure you get across the finish line.”

And that is what he did. All day we swam, biked, and ran together. He could have finished 2 1/2 hours earlier, had a snack, a shower, changed clothes and come back. What he did was ensure that his best friend since 8th grade achieved a goal that at times felt impossible.

I finished that race in 7:56:35.

Come to find out…EVERYONE waited for us at the finish line. Matt and Christie Thien, Joe and Jen Bland, Mary Dawson and of course Courtney. Not only that, but Eric and Lizzie Bebber were staying up to date all the way from DC and called me shortly after my finish to say congratulations.

Time is the most valuable thing in the world. You don’t get friends like Brian, Matt, Joe, Eric and their wives without spending lots of that valuable resource. And friendship takes maintenance, lots of maintenance.

If you are going to invest in a piece of gear, this should be at the top of your list.

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