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5 stupid questions you’ll definitely get asked at your next holiday gathering

Unfortunately many people just don’t get what we do

Photo by: Getty Images

While it’s been wonderful to attend more social functions over the last year, there’s one thing that most of us triathletes probably don’t miss – those uncomfortable (OK, as the headline suggests – stupid) questions that many non-athletes ask. Here are a few that we’re just not ready to be asked again this week:

You did the Ironman! Did you win?

Here at the Mackinnon household, we do have someone who typically gets to answer “Yes” to that question (and, no, it’s not me). For the rest of us mortal beings, though, winning isn’t really an option. So, the polite response to this question is “I wish! I was just happy to complete the race.”

You did the Ironman! Was it the one in Hawaii?

While we’re on the Ironman roll, we’ll stick to the one that is all-too-pervasive. Since most non-athletes will only have seen the Ironman World Championship show on NBC, they don’t realize that there are other races that are the same distance. There are some that are even tougher – you can read about those here.

Isn’t all that training bad for you?

Ummm … no? Yes, we totally get it that many of us overtrain and often do too much. We get that we spend a lot of time injured because we pushed things too hard. For the most part, though, our doctor isn’t telling us to quit. They know that we’re better to be  active than not.

Related: Age is just a number – how 78-year-old Cherie Gruenfeld became the oldest woman to finish the Ironman World Championship

Do you know my (insert cousin/ sister-in-law/ co-worker …)? They did an Ironman, too.

There are two issues here. While triathlon remains a small sport in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that small that we all know each other. The other problem with this question is that half the time the person asking it has no idea what an Ironman is. To them every triathlon is an Ironman. So, half the time, that cousin/ sister-in-law/ co-worker hasn’t, in fact, done a full-distance event. Often they did their local Try-a-Tri.

Be careful before you come back with a snarky answer, though. Turns out the sister of one of my oldest friends was Robin Beck, the woman who won the 1980 Ironman World Championship! I almost laughed when she said: “My sister won the Ironman.” I’m glad I didn’t.

How do you find the time for all the training?

Before you say anything snarky in response to this one, either, remember that triathlon is likely a major part of your lifestyle. The person asking this question doesn’t understand that, for you, a day without training ends up being much less productive. And, no, they’re not going to get it, so just smile and attribute it to time management, or an understanding spouse. (If your spouse is next to you, even better.)