My father rented and converted an old sports store in Chicagoland to a small ethnic restaurant. And yes I know that to many of you not from the Chicago suburbs the word "Chicagoland" sound like a Disney amusement park, but you'll have to trust me when I say that is the correct term for the Chicago burbs.
Anyway, when they opened the restaurant they created a brand new Czech dish...the "Half and Half".
It wasn't so much of a new dish as a combination of the two most popular Czech dishes. My mom combined a few hearty slices of roast pork tenderloin with a breaded port tenderloin on one massive plate with sauerkraut, rich brown gravy, and fluffy homemade dumplings.
The Half and Half, along with the new restaurant, was an instant success. Soon the dozen or so competing Czech restaurants in Chicagoland also began to feature the Half and Half on their menus. I believe that to this day it remains the most popular dish on the menus of the various Czech restaurants in and around Chicago.
Yet if you were to get on a plane and fly to Prague today you would not find one restaurant in the Capital city of the Czech Republic that servers breaded pork tenderloin on the same dish with roast pork tenderloin.
In the 35 years since my mom invented the dish hundreds of thousands of Czechs have traveled back and forth between the sizable Czech community in Chicagoland and Prague. Yet not one of them has brought the Half and Half back to Prague.
I think it is this way with many ethnic restaurants. For instance, I would be willing to bet that you could buy meals today at your local Chinese or Indian restaurants that do not exist in China of India.
This is because the immigrants to a new country are free of the old world's conventions, rituals, standards, and even classic foods. They are willing and eager to invent and come up with new twists and ideas that fit better with the new culture. Thus the Half and Half was born and prospered in America.
Yet the opposite of this is rarely true. The old world does not embrace these new ways and at best ignores them, and sometimes even disdains them.
So right about now you may be asking yourself what has Breaded Pork Dumpling to do with endurance sports besides making for a great post race meal?
Let me bring it on home with another example that will hopefully give you a clue as to where I'm going with this.
They have even come up with their own look and clothing. Unlike the old colorful and form fitting ski pants and jackets of my youth, boarders prefer more loose fitting and earth toned pants and jackets. The new ride look and fit is much more urban and a lot less Austrian.
In fact, I now prefer to ski in boarding gear. It just fits so much more naturally and allows for a great deal of freedom and movement. It is much more loose and baggy and a lot less form fitting. In my old tight ski wear I felt like a neon sausage on the slopes. In the boarding clothes I tend to blend in with the trees and natural surroundings.
Yet when I look around most skiers are still wearing the "classic" Ski Clothes.
Why is that?
It would seem natural to me that skiers would take the boarding gear, which just works so much better, and apply it to skiing. Yet most of them don't. I suspect that it is for the same reason that you won't find the Half and Half served in Prague.
The old and established are slow to learn form the new and the innovative. I suspect that it is also generational. Like my grandfather used to say, I catch myself telling my son, "If it was good enough for me, it should be good enough for you."
This year for the first times in an official Ironman race, Ironman Louisville featured a wave start. The WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) did it out of necessity because the river in Louisville was running too fast and too high.
They didn't plan it, and yet it worked and worked well...even with all of the classic IM time cutoffs.
It also solved a lot of problems.
Last weekend at Ironman Florida, just like last year at the half Ironman Championships in Clearwater, huge packs of riders formed and riders illegally drafted. Sure the motorcycle refs came by and broke up the packs, but you know how that goes. The packs reformed a few minutes after the motorcycles left and once again the race becomes a totally illegal and unfair draftfest.
See for yourself HERE.
I experienced a similar frustrating and unfair problem first hand at Ironman Wisconsin this year. I saw dozens of cheaters cut the corners on the swim because of the huge swim peloton. Worse yet, I was unable to get a single clean stroke (one that does not hit another swimmer) during the entire swim.
A wave start solves both of these big problems.
But a wave start is something that is new to the sport of triathlon. Keep in mind that they did not have a wave start at the original Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii way back when.
They also did not have up to 2500 people racing, but to this day the mass start has become a sacred cow in the Ironman.
I think it is time that the old learn from the new.
With chip timing there is no real reason why the wave start can't become the norm, just as with today's cheap direct International flights, there is no good reason why I can't order a Half and Half in Prague.