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Sunday, June 9, 2013

My Epic Race

So here is the story of my first Triathlon; it was epic.

Well, it wasn't epic in the sense that I was lost at sea for seven years contending with cyclopes and various sea-monsters; it was epic in the sense that a fifty-four year-old man swam a quarter mile, biked twelve, and ran three and ended up precisely where he started.

First of all, when doing a triathlon, there are certain things you need.  When Nancy and I got home the night before the race, this note was waiting on my bed.

I will not be able to tell you how touched and pleased this thoughtful missive made a tenderhearted dad; I will not say I wiped a grateful tear from my eye as I read this, but I was exceedingly moved by this thoughtful gesture.

One item in particular, the uninitiated may be unfamiliar with is "Glide (Chaffing Stuff on Bed)."  Picture the condition of your own nether regions if after a quarter-mile swim you jumped right on a bike for a twelve-mile ride and then went for a three-mile run, and you will see why a product such as this would be desirable if not outright essential.  It is exactly what it looks like, a kind of smear-on bar similar to a solid deodorant.  George Carlin would have called it under-leg deodorant.  I will spare you a vivid description of myself applying this unguent; suffice to say, no one but me will ever want to use this particular container of Glide again.  Ever.

Also on the list you will see "Watch."  This refers to my fancy GPS watch that can track my distance and speed even in water.  Before we left, Nancy asked, "Are you sure it's charged."  "Yes, darling," I replied with the manly patience that so becomes me, "it's plenty charged."  Ha-ha, foolish female.  (About thirty feet into the bike course, the watch went "beep-beep" and blinked off.  The battery wasn't charged.)

Nancy and I spent the night before the race in a Hampton Inn; I was not expecting her to go to so much trouble and expense on my behalf.  My concept was I would drive out to the race alone, and return later covered with perspiration and glory.  I can't think watching a triathlon is all that exciting.  But I am so grateful Nancy did. I am frequently lost - even on the race course itself, marked with bright orange traffic cones, I managed at least one wrong turn - and the thought of my finding my way to the site early on the morning of the race was not a jolly one.

My race number - for some reason,
I thought it was 919
So we show up and register and they gave me a tracking device to strap to my ankle, a brightly-colored number for my shirt and another for my bike as well as a color-coded swim cap that identified my general age category - old - and sex - presumably male.  Then I put on my swim cap and walked down to the beach for my swim.

I will spare you a blow-by-blow account of my race because basically it comes down to variations of the following theme: "I put my right foot forward and placed my weight on it, then I did the same thing with my left foot, and then I did it for my right foot again.  I repeated this process for three miles."  I will, however, give you some idea of the swim course because it pretty much kicked my ass; nor is this in any way a metaphor: imagine being a lobster in a pot full boiling water and other lobsters.  This - minus the temperature, thank God - is the approximate sensation of swimming in a triathlon.  People were quite literally swimming on top of me; every once in a while, I would lift my head to get a nice mouthful of lake water and then I would proceed.

You might imagine, as I imagined, that having swum the first portion, we would hop straight on our bikes, and off we'd go.  This, however, was not the case; we walked briskly - no running for me, I was barefoot - up a hill to where our bikes were waiting.  The rest of the race was really delightful.  The great thing about a long race is that no matter how slow you are, there's always at least one person ahead of you you can pass.  "I know I can beat that guy," you think, and pedal or run a little faster until you do and then you pick the next person to overtake.  I am ashamed to admit I invented little nicknames for these people.  A woman with bizarrely colorful socks, I nicknamed "Wicked Witch of the West," another person I called "Green Lantern" for his green race outfit.  As of this writing, my results still are not online, so I can't give them - however in addition to Wicked Witch and Green Lantern, I also beat "Bean Pole," "Baldy" and "Hemorrhaging from Mouth."

To make a long story no longer than it already is, the race ended where most races do - back at the start.  When I crossed the finish line, the speaker called out my name - the microchip on my ankle identified me for him - and they gave me a medal.  Nancy, who had been waiting to take my picture when I finished the swim and the bike, too my picture again.  I won't wax sentimental, but having her there and Spencer's note were the best parts of the race.  It is not so bad to end up where you start.

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