How Far Will You Go?

This post is coming out late because I had another one scheduled but I pulled it back and decided to go with this one because it has been on my mind ever since Jim Thome  hit his 600th Home Run. [caption id="attachment_3642" align="alignright" width="256" caption="Source"]bary_bonds_steroids_performance_enhancing_drugs[/caption] If you don't know Jim Thome plays for the Minnesota Twins and became just the 8th player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 career Home Runs.  This is an unbelievable milestone.  When you think about how old baseball is and how many players have passed through the major leagues, to be in a group where only seven others are is amazing.  The list includes Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.  That is where I will end this list and right now you are saying but wait there are 8 on the list.  You are correct and the others include Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. Do you notice the difference between the first list and the second?  The first list has no connection to baseball's steroids era and the other 4 names (3 of which have been directly linked to PEDs) made their mark on the record books during a time when steroids were rampant.  Ken Griffey Jr is the one name that has not been connected and I believe he is probably clean, but you never know.  For the record I believe that Jim Thome is clean as well. Growing up with a love and passion for baseball I am upset with the fact that the record books are forever tainted.  I don't think there is a rationale that can be explained to me that will allow me to accept the use of performance enhancing drugs.  There will be those that say that these players were in an age where that was part of the culture just like the dead ball era or the fact that blacks were relegated to the negro leagues and not able to play with white players.  I think that is non-sense and as I said it will be hard for somebody to convince me otherwise. To me these guys cheated.  In the dead ball era and negro league era those were circumstances beyond the players control.  In the steroid era they CHOSE to inject, drink or rub a product that would allow them to get bigger, stronger and faster.  So you can see, to me there is no comparison. What does this have to do with triathlon you should be asking yourself and my tie between the sport I once loved and the sport that I now love is what if the athletes we are watching today can be connected to performance enhancing drugs?  Can I lose the love of a sport again and to the same reason? [caption id="attachment_3639" align="alignright" width="183" caption="Source"]Chrissie_Wellington_Triathlon[/caption] I have written posts about being disciplined, taking supplements and about pushing my limits.  I have spoken about having a dream of getting to Kona, Las Vegas and Boston some day.  I know that the only way I can even approach those cities is through hard work, but what IF.  What if I decided that I had to get there and used PEDs?  What if Chrissie Wellington racing to an 8:18 and continuously setting records was done through a drug? I don't know what the current rules of the WTC are in terms of drug testing but let's say they are like Major League Baseball was back at the start of the millenium which was to look away and pretend they didn't exist.  Baseball was going through a re-birth following the 1994 strike and similar to triathlon it needed a spark.  Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire started hitting baseballs farther than anybody ever had and this country fell in love with baseball all over again. Triathlon got its spark by being a part of the Olympics and the sport has grown at a tremendous rate.  At the same time we see Ms. Wellington go from relative obscurity to a world record breaking athlete.  Chris McCormack is winning Kona at an age when most triathletes are retiring.  Now, please don't confuse those statements for me saying they are using PEDs.  Nothing could be further from the truth. My point is how far will people go?  And by people I am really looking at you Mr/Ms Age Grouper.  Is getting to Kona so important that you would do anything in your power to get there.  Forget about buying race wheels or an aero helmet or actually training 15 to 20 hours a week to hone your craft.  I'm talking about a substance that will allow you to recover faster.  We all know the toll that this sport takes on our bodies and our minds.  We go to work everyday, play with our children, feed our families, socialize with friends in person and on the internet and yet there are only 24 hours in a day.  What if you took a substance that allowed you to truly recover so that you could do all those things and still be able to train those 15-20 hours per week and get faster, stronger and leaner?  Would you do it? Where is the line drawn for you?  Do you draw it at the fact that you do have all those obligations and you only have so many years to achieve your dream of racing in Kona on the same stage as Andy Potts, Chris Lieto and TJ Tollakson? [caption id="attachment_3640" align="alignright" width="293" caption="Source"]andy_potts_triathlon[/caption] For me there is no way I would take a substance to get me to achieve my dreams because what did I really do?  I didn't earn that spot and inevitably stole it from somebody who did.  I will continue to work and continue to push my limits and continue to get better.  If all of that means that I don't qualify for any of those three events then so be it but it won't be from a lack of trying. I will wrap this up by saying that I would be more devastated by a PED problem in triathlon than in baseball.  Why?  The reason is simple.  I get the opportunity to step to the starting line on the same course that the pros do, and I will never have the chance to hit a 90 mph fastball from Jon Lester over the fence in Fenway Park.  This is why I love the sport of triathlon.  The pros and I are doing the same exact thing on the same exact course on the same exact day and dealing with all the same exact outside forces such as weather and fans.  
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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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