Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something Funny Happened on the Way to (and from) The Nation's Triathlon

This will be long. Don't let the length frighten you (Evans, 2005).

I can't explain all the strange happenings leading up to and following my last triathlon. Most of it is seems somewhat unbelievable even to me, the guy it happened to. But, I swear that none of the following is a lie (although I do tend to exaggerate from time to time).

***

One Week Before the Race

I like to think of myself as a smart guy...and that I have my shit together, but my world came tumbling down one week before I left for Washington DC to partake in the Nation's Triathlon. I was sitting in a lawn chair, still damp from a just completed two-mile swim in La Jolla Cove. I was feeling pretty accomplished and ready to take on the world. I was listening to my coordinator talk about the following week's trip...but the weirdest thing kept happening...she kept mentioning this word...this strange word....that word was Sunday.

Tauni and I booked our trip to Washington DC months and months before hand...flying in on Thursday and returning on Sunday afternoon at 12:35...a day after the Saturday triathlon. That would give me plenty of time to not only recover but party with my team Saturday night!

Why then, one week before the race, did my coordinator keep saying the race was going to be on Sunday...and stranger yet, why did the booklet, with all the race information, I was holding in my hands agree with her. In a moment of agony, I realized that I made a mistake, and scheduled to fly back from DC when I would still be AT the race.

Not good.

Luckily, Tauni had some extra airline miles, and we were able to switch the flight to Sunday night. I wish this was the end of this day's BS, but alas...

With the sting of non-perfection still dripping off me, I decided the best course of action would be to go drinking. I ended up finding myself about five beers deep into something called "The Darkness" and was completely drunk on this over 10% alcohol concoction. This is especially not a good idea when wearing flip flops on a wooden stool. In the middle of laughing at one point, I stupidly banged my foot on the wooden cross beam and felt a JOLT of pain run up my leg.

By the next morning, my foot was completely black and blue and I couldn't put a shoe on...and had to wear my shoe with very loose laces throughout the week.

Sweet...I broke the top of my foot a week before my triathlon! Just an added bonus.

***

A Few Days Before The Race

I'm in Washington DC, limping around on a swollen foot in unseasonably warm weather. Tauni and I are on a corner about three blocks from our hotel, and a man walks by us with a straw in his mouth. He appears to be homeless.

When he gets right next to me, I notice that he is starting to move towards me..and in what I can only say was a Karate move that would have made Bruce Lee proud, he sweeps his hand in a couple of circles while saying "WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH." He then takes the straw out of his mouth and pretends to stab me in the stomach with it. I think this is one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life and instantly start cracking up, while Tauni has grabbed onto my arm so tightly, I am losing circulation in my fingers. The "gentleman" inquires "What is so fucking funny?"

And while I would love to respond:

"You just pretended to stab me with a straw while making Karate-like noises, for starters."

I decide to leave well enough alone.

***

Two Nights Before The Race

I go out on the town with an old friend from high school, Mark Clemens. He brings his girlfriend and another friend of his.

The odd thing about this friend is the drunker he got, the more he seemed to not care that he was hitting on my girlfriend right in front of me. Touching her...winking at her...creepy stuff.

At the end of the night, we leave the bar we were at, and he stumbles over to Tauni and asks RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME "Where are we (implying he and Tauni) going now?" I hadn't said anything all night about his...friendliness...but this was too much...

I respond "WE (implying Tauni and I) are going back to OUR hotel room"

I then made a Karate-like sound and pretended to stab him with my finger...

...the student had become the teacher...

***

The Morning of the Race

The morning of the race I wake up at 4 AM and know that I am going to struggle with some of a triathlete's life necessities.

First of all, I need to eat to start fueling for the race....but I am NOT hungry at 4 AM.

Second of all, I need to poop so I don't have to during the race....but I can't poop at 4 AM.

Lastly, I need to make sure that I don't repeat the previous blunder of not putting on enough protection against chaffing...so I dutifully put Vaseline EVERYWHERE YOU CAN POSSIBLY IMAGINE...keep imagining...keep going...yes, even there.

We leave the hotel room at about 4:45, and I still haven't really eaten, I certainly haven't pooped, but man, every possible connection point on my body is frictionless.

At about 5:15, we hop on our shuttle to the race, and I am still not hungry, getting very worried about not being able to poo, and am squishing around in areas of my pants that aren't typically squishy.

Getting off the bus at the event, I almost trip, and see my life and teeth flash before my eyes as I manage to catch myself on the handrail. Hardly recovered, I go to pick up my timing chip, and I am instructed to "instantly put it on so that [I] don't lose it."

No, I didn't listen.

I walk over to "body marking" and drop my drawers in front of a young woman who has to get down on her knees to write my race number, 303, on my upper thighs. I ask Tauni if this seems at all sexual to her; she says no.

I think she's lying.

I start to walk to my transition station and I realize...I lost my timing chip some time during the "non-sexual" body marking (doesn't "body marking" just sound like a porno waiting to happen?). If I don't have this chip, there is no way to prove I was even at this race (besides the gently etched numbers on my upper thighs). I retrace my few steps that I have taken, and it's just gone.

Tail between my legs, I return to the chip station and let out a big sigh...

"So, I kind of lost my chip...what do I do?"

Luck is on my side...someone had already returned it! And yes, this time I instantly put it on my ankle!

6:30, about 30 minutes before the race...I am able to get down a Clif Bar...and decide it is time to start pushing. I go to a port-o-potty, and did a little pre-race warm up. My quads were BURNING as I awaited and prayed to whomever that I do my business. And finally...it happened, and I can't tell you what a load off of me that was (pun, what pun?).

And honestly, then, and until now, I believe the Vaseline was the only reason this was able to happen. I may have created a new constipation remedy!

***

During the Race

I missed my goal time a wee bit, but mostly because it was freakin hot. It was about 95 degrees plus humidity. My swim was where I thought it would be: 42 minutes. My bike was a personal record: 1 hour and 16 minutes...alas, the run...the run took me a WHOPPING 1 hour and 12 minutes....about 17 minutes over my projected time.

All and all, I did it in 3 hours and 17 minutes when my goal was 3 hours and 5 minutes. I am proud of this time regardless. Those conditions sucked my Vaseline- ladened ass.

***

After the Race

I finish and man, am I tired. Lucky me..they have free massages for participants. I switch into my after race clothes and hop onto the massage table. My masseuse flips my legs up. He flips them wide. He has my legs spread all over the place. I didn't care...it felt AWESOME...and a little breezy for some reason.

About an hour later, I realized something not so good. My crotch, the one that the masseuse had been spreading all over the place, the one that was facing toward the fifty other people waiting in line, the one that wasn't being covered by any underwear...had a HUGE HOLE in it. So...basically...my balls were completely there for the world to see.

Good times. I had been wondered why they gave ME a tip...

***

Shipping the Bike

Later, after just dropping my bike off at the shipping station, I was in heaven. I was all done! My bike was set to go...I was feeling G-O-O...OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

Some other person accidentally RAMMED his bike into my hand as we walked by each other. I instantly clench it into a fist and have to take a knee as he apologies. I wonder if all my appendages were meant to be broken during this weekend.

Things couldn't get much weirder, right?

***

The Way Home

On the way to the airport, I of course get the most talkative Pakistani cab driver in the history of the world who tells me his life story, including his concept of marriage and why I should be married to Tauni already. He tells me that he had never even spoken to his wife before they got married. He saw her at a wedding, and three months later they were together. Now, 50 years later, they are still married and very happy. He kept pushing me to see his metaphor. "Do you understand? Do you understand?" He kept asking in his thick, thick Pakistani accent...

So I say, "Sure! I should go to a wedding so I can meet my future wife?"

He laughed. Tauni slapped.

***

At the Airport

But the best part of the entire weekend had to be this. While waiting second in line at the airport to use the facilities, the oddest thing happened.

This guy walks up behind me and laughs. I think he is laughing because "Ha Ha...line in the GUY'S bathroom...no way."

I was wrong.

After about thirty seconds, he says in the most pitiful voice I have ever heard in my life to the guy in front of me:

"Excuse me...excuse me, sir? Do you mind if I cut in front of you? I gotta go real, real bad."

I about lose it. What is the guy in the front of the line gonna do? Say no? "No...I'm sorry...you have to suffer while I take my time in there..." So he HAS TO say yes...which is of little relief to the guy behind me. He goes into a meditative state...puts his arms up on the wall...and keeps breathing. Deeply breathing.

I decide I can wait...

...my Vaseline had worn off anyway.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Time For The Nation's Tri

It's almost 11:00 PM EST, and I need to wake up in about five hours to start getting ready for my "culminating" race of the summer. This is a bitter sweet end for me.

Where I thought I would be physically, and where I actually am, don't exactly match. Although I feel relatively recovered from hurting my back earlier this summer, I have not exactly recovered to where I initially thought I would be:

In April, my race time was 3 hours and 9 minutes, or something like that.

My goal time for this race was going to be between 2 hours and 55 and 2 hours and 59 min.

Now, I am shooting for 3 hours and 5 min.

These may seem like insignificant differences, but they aren't, and the line I now feel between "Wow, I can't believe I do triathlons" and "Wow, I feel like I am a complete failure because I don't do these as fast as I perhaps should (whatever that means)" is becoming increasingly more and more blurry.

I guess never being happy with results is what keeps people pushing to improve, but the mental anguish I sometimes feel at not being able to push myself to my absolute limits weighs on me.

I am so amazed at some of the things I have learned about myself via doing triathlons: commitment as well as mental and physical strength, to name a few.

But I know there is more...and I haven't tapped into where this journey is taking me yet...

...and that really bothers me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mechanically Declined

My final triathlon of the summer is coming up next week in Washington DC. I barely reached my fundraising goal of $1900...but through a little nudging of my friends, I got over the final "hump."

As usual, I had a fundraising contest...and whoever donated the most to my Leukemia and Lymphoma Society account got to challenge me to one wild and crazy dare. To get the final few hundred dollars, I let a few of my friends pool their money together to motivate them to donate. We'll call them the Phallus-less Foursome.

Donate they did...combining to donate $251...a full $1.00 more than my highest donator (sorry, Led). The cocky little bastards then started to taunt me with how horrible their dare was going to be. No hints. Just smirks and laughs at my upcoming fate. That just wouldn't do!

So, in a moment of brilliance, Tauni decided to donate another $175 to put her total donation amount to $275. A complete facial...Tauni loves those.

In the end, though, Tauni decided to accept the Phallus-Less Foursome's dare...so, within one week after the triathlon I have to get an enema/colonic.

Yum.

Thank you Phallus-less Foursome! I'll be sure to send you guys the pictures.

***

Since this triathlon is rather far away, we had to ship our bikes last Saturday so that they would be in DC by race time. This meant we had to use these things called "tools" to do something called "disassemble" our bikes. As soon as I realized this was going to happen, I got a little nervous.

For whatever reason, I'm not super good with my hands, as it were...especially things that are all metal. Why? I don't know! Cars, bikes, weapons of mass destruction...you name it...if it's all metal, I'm all thumbs!

So I showed up early to our bike disassembling party so I wouldn't be the last one done. Considering half the people taking their bikes apart were going to be women...I felt an additional sense of pressure not to be horrendously slow.

Even though I had a head start, everyone else finished unscrewing and dismantling and packing their bikes up MUCH faster than I did. I had to keep looking at what other people were doing and double and triple checking that I wasn't doing mine wrong. I just have no confidence with this type of thing and had this illogical fear that my bike was somehow going to explode if I turned the wrong screw or removed the wrong thingamabobber.

LLS folk are not like my other friends, though. Not one comment was made about me being a girl or gay or lame or stupid because I was very slow at getting my bike apart and into the shipping box. It's weird being surrounded by supportive people and not constantly ridiculed over every slight discrepancy that might show that I'm not perfect or not "a man."

What a great feeling! I can't wait to repay these pussies by blowing their slow-asses out of the water during the race. What a bunch of pansies!