Monday, March 31, 2008

Assclown, Interrupted


Court Date #1: I'm given the wrong courtroom, and by the time I learn this and get to the right one, Assclown Strickland's case has been called and is done, apparently within the span of about 5 minutes. Figures that it was the first one called. Luckily, it was continued, since Ass-Land didn't show up with a lawyer. Duh.

Court Date #2: I'm here 45 minutes early, not taking any chances. Of course, Ass-Land is late, and his case isn't called until about an hour and a half in. Again, it figures. This time, I talk to the state's attorney, who tells me that the case won't be dismissed since witnesses have shown up (i.e. me and the guys whose Monte Carlo overturned). But he also says I'm probably done with the whole thing, and I'd only have to show up again if for some reason Ass-Land pleads not guilty. As if!

Court Date #3: Apparently, since Ass-Land has nothing better to do with his time than go to court (aka his home base), reprobate space-sucking POS that he is, the rest of us have to go as well, given that we received subpoenas to do so. Seems he was gambling that the accident victims wouldn't want to show up AGAIN. Wrong again, bub. I recognize Ass-Land in the courtroom from the last time he moseyed in, and the fact that he's chuckling over something infuriates me. If I had a knife, I'd gut him like a carp and leave him for the flies to pick over. Damn metal detectors. Ass-Land did take the time to get gussied up for court, wearing his spiffy red and white track suit and matching red and white sneakers. Stylin'. Maybe he can sell them when I sue him in small claims court.

While I'm chit-chatting with my old pals the State Troopers, sharing homemade bundt cake and looking at pictures of their kids, rehearsing what I'll say when I get my proverbial "day in court" moment, I then learn from the SA that I won't in fact get my day in court, Columbo episodes notwithstanding. Since Ass-Land was incorrect and we did all show up, he's decided to change his plea to guilty.

Me: "So what does that mean? Jail time? Will he be locked away to rot in a moldering prison sub-basement amidst the vermin and several inches of swamp water?"
SA: "Unfortunately, no. He'll pay a fine, be on probation, that sort of thing."
Me: "That's it? No boiling in oil? No tar pits? How about his license, I assume that was revoked?"
SA: "Umm, it already was at the time of the accident."
Me: "Oh, naturally. Great. No hard labor?" I ask, eagerly.
SA: "Well, he will get 15 days of work-release. You know, like the people who clean up trash on the side of the road. Kind of the first step towards jail, especially if he doesn't show up."
Me: "I guess that's something. But how about the fact that I now drive like my grandmother? Shouldn't he have to pay for that??"
SA, looking glum: "I'm afraid there's no penance in the world sufficient to make up for that."

There you have it, our criminal justice system at work. Ass-Land probably drove home from court, and only had to pay a $500 fine for destroying tens of thousands of dollars of property and almost killing a whole bunch of people. Too bad the SAs don't have much to work with - one of them did tell me at one point that in California, you can look up all sorts of info on other people if there's a car accident, like whether they have insurance and who their insurer is. Too bad IL is not quite on top of the 8-ball, as they say, because we get nothing.

So.... if you're driving along a highway or road sometime soon, and see someone festooned in red and white blingy garb underneath his orange safety vest as he picks up trash, bean him with a rock or something for me, would you? Or at least make him run.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A date with the assclown


A court date, that is. To understand why I was downtown in traffic court YET AGAIN, the day before going out of town no less, exchanging greetings and bundt cake with my old friends the state trooper, state's attorney, and other various law enforcement officials, let's go back to last summer. July 21st, to be exact......

- - - - - - - - - - (cue Wayne's World-esque dootoolo dootoolo dootoolo music)

"It's really been a perfect kind of day."

That was my mistake. Everyone knows that if you make a comment like that, you have to immediately spit three times or knock on wood or bite the head off a grasshopper or something. I of course did none of those things, which is obviously why fate felt it was perfectly acceptable to come along and send the proverbial bucket o' crap and pestilence pouring down on my head. Normally I'm not that careless; I'm not sure what lured me into a false sense of security. Maybe it was the shock of in fact having had a day as perfect as it gets in TashaWorld. Recall, this was after a summer of near-drownings, bee stings and the like in my quest for Ironman Glory. So the fact that I had successfully done the Evergreen tri that morning and did NOT drown, that Robyn and I had then stumbled on a cool estate sale in the lovely area around Evergreen Lake, that we had a little while earlier stopped at Dairy Queen and were now wending our way back to Chicago all happy........these are what pass for miracles in my life.

So we're driving along on I-55, nearing the city, and I'm thinking how cool it is that we'll be back early enough so that I can kick back and have a relaxing evening, when.......well, I don't know what sound effects to use to convey having someone (the aforementioned assclown) slam into your car at full speed, because traffic has slowed and oops, assclown apparently isn't looking at the road AT ALL, so he slams into you with no warning, no brakes, which spins your car around and then some other car hits you head on which triggers the airbags and then you spin around some more and finally come to a stop (all of this figured out afterward, as it wasn't clear at the time what the sequence of events was). So imagine that sound. Robyn saw what appeared to be smoke coming out of the dashboard so she bustled quickly out of the car, while I sit there thinking, what the fuck?? Yeah, I'm bright that way.

When I finally get out, I look behind me and see our own little Armageddon on the highway. All lanes of traffic shut down. Several cars scattered about. One car is about 15 feet back, on the other side of the road, overturned. A woman is pulled up right behind us, and at first I'm a little short because I think she's the one who hit us, but she's not, she's just a good samaritan. As we're standing there trying to figure out what happened, and after I get a cold Coke bottle out of my now-destroyed car to hold to my nose, which feels broken, something happens to give me a very warm, fuzzy feeling towards humanity: an overfed sunburned mustached yuppie-wannabe with his mousy wife and mewling brats in his needlessly big SUV going the OTHER direction on I-55, who has been stuck in a gapers' block for all of about ten minutes, looks over at the carnage on our side. And in looking at the smoke and destruction, at a scene where one would surely assume that there's a very good chance that several people have been killed, is so irate that their Big Plans to hit the waterpark and Chuck E. Cheese's are now thrown off by those all-important ten minutes, has the thoughtfulness and wherewithal to very angrily yell "Thanks a lot for screwing up traffic!!!" at us. The three of us who are standing there in shock, me holding a Coke bottle to my nose. Whoever you are, Mr. Wannabe Yuppie POS, I feel sorry for your having to go through life as you. How pathetic that must be.

So I've started to go over to the overturned car where people have been working to get the people there out, and the firetrucks pull up very quickly and suddenly I'm surrounded by good-looking hunky guys in firefighting gear asking if I'm okay. Well. This is getting interesting. I find out that by some miracle, no one is seriously hurt and they're just taking the guys from the overturned Durango to the hospital to check them out. Once the firefighters find out that no one was killed, things get a bit more jovial, and as the tow trucks are moving cars out of the way so that traffic can have more than just the one lane to get by, we stand around and chat, with one of them asking me if I've just escaped from Joliet (the prison), since I'm still in my tri gear and thus my race numbers are still visible on my leg. I like these guys.

The state trooper tells me that the assclown who caused the accident, who, for simplicity's sake, why don't we just call "Eric Strickland," is on his cell phone. And has no insurance. And no driver's license. Oh, he's also a convicted felon, but I don't find that gem out until court date #1. Beautiful. Now, wouldn't you think if you have all that going for you, that when you do illegally get behind the wheel of a car to go somewhere, that you might actually......PAY SOME FUCKING ATTENTION? But maybe that's just me.

Eventually, Robyn and I manage to find someone who can stash all our tri stuff in his car and give us a ride back home (thanks Mark Watkins!!), and as we're waiting for him to pick us up from the accident turnout on the side of I-55, I take a little spin around on Precious to make sure she's okay. Priorities, you know.

Of course, since assclown (aka "Strickland") had no insurance, I now have no car, no rental car, no way to get around, and a deep ankle bruise that I get to limp around on for a couple of weeks. And while I'm indeed grateful to be alive, people keep reminding me that I should be happy to be alive, and I think - is that all I get? My friends who have just gotten married, are having kids, have cushy jobs, etc and so on, are telling me "be happy you're alive." So they get everything - I get "well, I'm not dead yet." Somehow that strikes me as a little unfair.

Anyway, I digress.

(to be continued)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A tough crowd

So I had some of the girls over last night, and eventually, after the usual gossip and miter saw discussions, we turned to reminiscing about last summer’s triathlon fun. Now, while all of them clearly recognize the greatness in their midst (me), on occasion the claws do come out a bit, though I’ve learned to take it all in stride. After all, smartassery and insults are the sincerest form of flattery, right?

First, talk turns to swimming in Lake Michigan:

Bridget: "Yeah, Heather, I’m glad you finally got a bright-colored swimcap! Man, you’d take off and suddenly you’d be off swimming a mile away. We all thought, where’d that Heather go?? Though, it was really funny when you’d get back after your swim and Tasha would still be on shore, trying to put her head under water."
Me: "Hey now, my baby lungs need time to get used to a 45-degree lake!"
Robyn: "Baby lungs, pfft. That old excuse. If you were any slower in the water, you’d be going backwards. Or drowning."
Me: "It’s a cultivated skill, okay? My GOAL is always to be last out of the water, because it’s so much fun PASSING all of your SLOW SORRY ASSES on the bike. So there."
Colleen: "Oh right, the bike. Hey, have you seen yet the “wall of fame” they have at Get a Grip? I think you’re grandfathered in at the #1 slot, since they figure they’ll never find someone to surpass you. Something about 'our favorite stupid customers.'"
Me: "You’re just jealous of the close relationship I have with my boys. Maybe they’ll like you enough someday to let you do direct deposit as well. And be part of their Christmas cookie exchange."
Colleen: "Close relationship – is that why they send you Get Well cards when they haven’t heard from you in a few weeks?"
Me: "Not anymore. Once I get Sálome, I’ll never be able to darken their doorstep again, out of sheer embarrassment. I mean really, they had to call the FELT guy to get this fixed! Now the whole world of bikedom knows that I’m a complete and total moron! Not that it’s really my fault. After all," I say, with inescapable logic, "why would they bother putting stickers on the bike if not for us to subsequently take them off? Duh! So yeah, no more GAG for me."
Bridget: "Oh, come now, why should this stop you? In the annals of Tasha Dumbosity, this is up there, but you’ve done a lot of goofy things. So why stop now?"
(Long discussion ensues as to all the Stupid Things Tasha Has Done, with much hilarity ensuing – among all of my so-called friends, that is. I was less amused.)
Me: "You’ll see, dammit. This is really nice of you all, by the way, to bring the knives out after I reveal my secret plan to win prize money at Rockman: paying someone $50 to crowbar the knees of everyone who beats me out of the swim, to lessen the competition."
Deanna: "Everyone who beats you out of the water? Wow, that’s going to be a LOT of people.......a LOT. Did I mention just how many people that would be?"

You see what I have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s okay though. When I come trudging in victorious having JUST missed placing 29th in my AG, I think I prove my point, naysayers be damned.

But at least I’m not the only one who has issues that provide fodder for such entertaining and witty repartee. There’s always Deanna as my back-up.

Me: "So the Tasha imitators are starting to come out of the woodwork – the Wall Street Journal had one of their articles yesterday where they compare different consumer goods, and this time they looked at different kinds of exercise equipment, e.g. a Bean thingie, a trampoline thingie, a Total Gym thingie. But get this – they actually found this device which consists of two jump rope handles...but no rope! They call it the “world’s first ropeless jump rope”! Umm, yeah, because then it’s not really a jump rope if there’s no rope, now is it? I mean, what kind of moron can’t figure out a jump rope?"
Deanna: "Ooh, that sounds neat, what’s it called again? Is there a website? I so totally can’t jump rope!"
Me: "What the hell do you mean? You turn, jump, turn, jump. I think they get trained seals to do it. It's like riding a bik.......oh."
Deanna, chattering on: "Can’t figure it out! Nope, too tricky, just can’t get the hang of it. I trip all over myself!"

Hmm.....I’m suddenly starting to see Deanna in a whole new light. Read: a gold mine of opportunity.

Clearly, there’s a whole world out there of potential “exercise equipment for dummies” that I, in my triathlon goddess shortsightedness, am failing to cash in on. This is billed as the rope “for people who trip.” Perhaps....a BOSU “for people with no core”, consisting of just a wooden plank? The possibilities are endless. I will add this to my future website, So far I’m planning on selling laminated maps that consist solely of routes to ice cream shoppes, the patented assfan invention, for when you’re peeing in the woods and need to wave away gnats and mosquitos, and of course Big Blue Barrels. Deanna is a big fan, perhaps the biggest, of Drew Peterson, the guy who’s been leaving a trail of ex-wives and girlfriends in his wake, all stuffed in big blue barrels and dumped somewhere shady and remote. Thus, I’ve taken to threatening her with Big Blue Barreldom when she says or does anything to annoy me. Or when she beats me at anything. Essentially, I just lug a barrel with me every time I go anywhere with her. They’re not that expensive if you buy them in bulk.

Anyway - speaking of bikes and clumsy people, I inadvertently provided the good people of Sun City/Huntley with a bit of extra amusement today, as I went out to see my mother and grandmother. Grandma is now the proud owner of a 3-wheeled bicycle, which I immediately decided to take for a spin, to show off my superior bike handling skills. Of course, accustomed as I am to sleek perfect marvels of modern bike technology, I wasn’t quite prepared for the clown version of a bike – which was not only NOT exactly built to turn on a dime, but was also somewhat set up for my grandmother, who’s a goodly 8 inches shorter than me. So, yes, I am always willing to confess my occasional rare foible, so that my reader(s) can see that I too am “just like you” – and in this case, after zooming into the street while laughing uproariously at the little clown bike silliness, I tried to steer it back up her driveway and promptly rode into a snowbank. Swift, very swift. I guess I showed all the elderly Sun City residents how to get things done, huh?

To add to the final ignominity of this weekend:

There’s a standard rule of society that if someone says to you “no way, you look WAY too young to be such-and-such age!”, then you automatically and instantly have to say the same back to them, the words practically stumbling over themselves in their rush to leave your mouth. I don’t care if they look as old as Methuselah. Say. It. Anyway. Does no one have a grasp on proper etiquette these days? MLSF Kat’s friend Lynn, I am talking to you. All of this is even MORE so the case if someone is helping lug all your stuff up a three-story walk-up – or rather, doing all the lugging, good-naturedly no less, because you have a broken hip. But noooooo....instead we had the following conversation:

Me: "So how old are you anyway? MLSF Kat has said you were in your late 30s, which I can’t believe."
Lynn: "I’m 39, sigh."
Me: "NO WAY! OMG, that’s amazing, you seriously look like you’re about 25."
Lynn: "Nope, I’m hitting the big 4-0 next year, I can’t even believe it."
Me: "Ugh, don’t even talk to me about it. I’m having my birthday-which-shall-not-be-named soon too, in June."
Lynn: "Aha."
Me, expectantly: "Umm, now YOU’RE supposed to express amazement, exclaim that there’s just no way I could possibly be anywhere near that age."
Lynn, giggling: "Tee hee, Tasha, you’re so funny!"
Me, gritting my teeth: "No, really, I’m serious. That’s how it’s done."
Lynn: "Oh my gosh, you’re silly. You look fine!"

To my credit, while I quickly parsed the word “fine” and noted that in no thesaurus does the word fine = young-looking, younger than young, youthful, etc., I did not reach over, open the car door, boot Lynn out and throw her crutches out after her. Yet.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Conversations with my LBS

That’s “local bike shop,” for those of you not hep with the lingo. In this case, Get a Grip. I couldn’t take it anymore and decided to call this morning to get an update on Sálome’s health status, to see if she could have visitors, etc. As always, when relaying these conversations, I feel compelled to also give you the relevant subtext, as I’m good at reading people that way:

GAG guy, answering phone: “Get a Grip Cycles, this is Rick, can I help you?”
Me, meekly: “ Kevin there?”
GAG Rick: “Unfortunately he’s not – can someone else help you?”
Me: “I’m just calling to see how Sálome is doing – I mean my Felt...the Felt B12......this is Tash..”
GAG Rick: “Oh, Tasha, of course! Hold on a sec....let me check with Matt.”
YCBG Matt, clearly speaking with adoration in his voice: “Hey, Tasha, how are you?”
Me: “I’m fine, how are you? And Sálome, how’s Sálome? How’s she feeling? Better? All better?” (While I know that you’re the go-to person for everything at GAG, I also fully recognize that some people are intimidated by speaking to someone of my stature, so I’m making it easy for you to figure out what I need to know. I’m helpful that way.)
YCBG Matt: “Oh, sorry I didn’t get back to you earlier this week about the bike." (I throw myself at your mercy.) “I had to wait to talk to Kevin about which aerobars to put on.” (Remember Kevin? He got married 2 weeks ago, and barely had a honeymoon because of you silly people. Well, not speaking about you here. But everyone else.)
Me, magnanimously: “Oh, not a problem at all.” (I’m cutting you some slack because you’re YCBG Matt.) “And....and......umm......any word on the unsightly ghastly blemish (I'm whispering, lest I be too vocal about the fact that I’m a dumbass).
YCBG Matt: “The what?”
Me, sotto voice: “The blemish. You know.....the flaw.” (Yes, I’m an idiot. Didn’t we all know that already?)
YCBG Matt: “Ah, that. We ordered a new fork from Felt, so it should be here any day now. Kevin talked to the 2nd-most guy at Felt (and regaled him with stories about our moronic customers), so it’s a priority item.” (We know how you are. God forbid we should fix it in-house, and then....well, we just know. Better to start fresh. That’s something we all quickly agreed on. It’s much cheaper this way in the long run.)
Me: “A mean.......she’ll be back to her original state of perfection?” (What?? I get a do-over? Okay, wait, I have terminal cancer, don’t I, and no one wants to tell me. That’s it, isn’t it...)
YCBG Matt: “Yes, so just tell me how you want to do this. Since it’s a paint issue and not structural damage, I can change the aerobars and you can have the bike to lessen the disruption to your training plan, and then we can change the fork when that comes in.” (Again, god forbid we should in any way mess with your training plan, which apparently thus far consists of sitting around breathing deeply and doing a push up or two. But who are we to question your obvious success? Obvious in a theoretical way, that is. But really, the last thing we want is to stand in the way of such triathlon greatness. Deeper subtext: Plus we know full well that if we have this bike a second longer than you deem necessary, we’ll never hear the end of it. All summer long, there on your blog, it’ll be “Oh, I’m sure I could have placed first in my AG instead of 234th, if only I had gotten my bike back from GAG a day earlier. Oh, what could have been...” This is why the goal of every single person here at GAG is to get this bike back to you ASAP. Trust us on that.)
Me, mulling over this concept of my “training plan”: "........oh, right, sorry, I started woolgathering there. Well, I don’t want to be a pain...”
(thought bubble over YCBG Matt’s head: “WAY too late for that...”)
Me: “.....but maybe I could get it by Tuesday? Would that work?”
YCBG Matt: “Whatever works for you.” (We want to keep you happy, because of course we live for customers like you. Truly. Who do some asinine thing and then come in with their bikes and shove them at us and say “fix this” – and we do. In large part because of the entertainment value. We still haven’t decided which wacky thing you’ve done has been more amusing, though the sticker thing is way up there. But then how can one decide, when there’s the time you fell on your bike (again) and somehow managed to land in such way that you bent the dérailleur into your spokes? That was a new one on us. I think we sent that one into Dumbass Cyclists Weekly, though in all honesty, we like the challenge that your goofups present for us. They happen so regularly that we make the new guys fix them – kind of like an initiation rite. Then there’s the time you duct taped the wires from your bike computer to the bike. Yeah, duct tape. Jason laughed so hard at that one that now every week he comes in and asks “Has Tasha been in yet this week? What’d she do this time?” Good times.)

So there you have it, folks. The Willy Wonka do-over (“rewind, reverse”), courtesy of GAG. Needless to say, we will never speak of the blemish again, as I prefer to pretend it never happened. There’s just so much of my own stupidity that I can handle being reminded of.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Apparently I’m not the only one who gets the brilliant ideas on a regular basis. After reading about the ferociousness that is Tyson, MLSF Kat suggested that I use his powers for good: Offer his services to keep rabid soccer moms and the like at bay during sporting events, when they’re ready to storm the field because “my little Madison is not getting her allotted playing time and I don’t CARE if she hasn’t been to practice in six weeks we’ve had THINGS to do so get her in there you cretin of a ‘coach’ before I drop-kick you with my Christian Loboutins!” Tyson would help out by just standing there, basically, perhaps with a bit of alka-seltzer to chew on so that he froths at the mouth attractively. Needless to say, I like this idea. I might not even charge for our services, though there’d have to be biscuits or something in it for Tyson to make up for the fact that he’ll probably have to leave his stuffed cow at home. Somehow I don’t think that would be quite the look we’re going for.

I’ll have to move quickly though, before Tyson is adopted. In spite of my warnings on this very blog, people have been clamoring to add this little (big) guy to their family. Yesterday we had a family of dreamers, refusing to accept that Tyson’s head will inevitably explode one of these days, parents and their 2 kids who lavished attention on Tyson while he tolerated it, bravely. Poor guy. Oh sure, it looked like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with Tyson on the couch, paws crossed daintily, one parent on either side and the kids on the floor in front of him, all enveloping him with kisses and hugs.......but I tell you, danger was lurking, clearly. Unfortunately, when they brought their little fluffy white dog in to see if the two would get along, Tyson seemed to confuse Gracie with a large white squirrel, and started growling menacingly while Gracie froze in her tracks. Oops. I had a sudden vision of Tyson taking the little dog by the scruff of the neck and shaking her about, much as he had done with Cow earlier. Cow, however, seemed oblivious. Gracie would not be. Tonight’s people have no other pets – I just hope that Tyson acts out our routine like we practiced it whereby I say the word “vichyssoise,” as in “Excuse me while I take the vichyssoise off the stove”, and Tyson immediately goes and sits by them, gazing up adoringly. Fingers crossed. There’s just so much of the cuddling and playfulness I can take, as I wait for his “true” Doberman character to assert itself. Today he brings me his rawhide and gives it to me to hide in the couch cushions for him..........tomorrow, well, who knows what, with the ticking time bomb that he is.

Also, for those who’ve asked me about Sálome, she’s still in the hospital, though YCBG assured me that she was on the docket for yesterday. I await word, anxiously.

And I’m pleased to note that Deanna has said that she’s been having great success with the Paleo Diet, though I think she’s using some weird version as hers doesn’t include the basic tenets of my own regime, namely Corndog Week and Fried Dough Month. Apparently she’s already lost 5 pounds, though when she asked me how my own diet was going, I coolly informed her that my FAR SUPERIOR version of this strict nutrition regimen was still in the “bulk” phase. Much like weightlifters are known to do, I need to bulk up in order to fuel my training – and then later on when I cut back on water, or salt, or something like that, I will instantly shed all excess fat like Cher tossing off her feather boas. I hope. Otherwise, I’ll be in big trouble once racing season rolls around. No pun intended.

UPDATE: We received an email from the family who came by yesterday to meet Tyson, and it looks like they took a chance on another vicious Dobe, who has already taken over their household:

I pray for the safety of the family.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tyson and me

Shocking as this may be to some, in between the rigorous training, I do on occasion find time to devote to other pursuits, one of them being volunteering for a Doberman rescue organization. While originally when I signed on I envisioned helping out just with home visits, transport, etc., several foster dogs later, I can clearly be placed in the “sucker” category, as someone who can’t say no when the plea for foster homes goes out.

Naturally, I am taking my life into my own hands by working with this particular breed. Apparently they’re genetic freaks in that their skulls stop growing but their brains don’t, and eventually their brains “explode,” leading the dog to just snap. Who knew? Granted, I’ve never seen this happen or have heard of it actually happening, but this has been bandied about on the internet, so it must be true. And while my own Hudson in all his 13.5 years never once even showed his teeth to anyone, and so far all of my foster boys (“temps” as I call them) have been big smushy snugglebunnies......all of this must be an aberration. Clearly I have just been very very lucky.

My latest is Tyson, a Doberman who fits the “Omen” stereotype, meaning he’s big, black, has cropped ears, looks like he’s been unleashed from Hades, that sort of thing. For fun I call him Cerberus, but I try to stay on his good side, so that......


Sorry for the interruption. Tyson came up to me as I was typing and in his typical fashion, plunked his big head on my chest and looked up at me adoringly. No fool I, I immediately went to get him a biscuit, as I was sure that his next move would have involved going for my jugular. This afternoon we will attempt to go for a run, and I just pray that this brain exploding thing doesn’t happen when we’re out and about. That could get messy.

First five minutes

We’re barely away from my house, when the first miracle happens. Yes, it’s true – we get to a stop sign, and.......the car actually stops! Not only that, but the car sees us and WAVES US THROUGH. I shall alert the media immediately upon our return to the house. The only explanation I can think of is that the mere sight of Tyson brings to mind the film Jaws, and the driver envisions the beast lunging at the car, ripping it to shreds, much like a great white would do. Or, umm, the land shark version of a great white.

Ten minutes later

We’re still running along, and this is when I first see evidence of Tyson’s Special Powers, whereby he can make people turn to stone instantly. There’s a man working on his car, and when he sees us, he stops moving entirely, manages to choke out a “nicedogishefriendly” in one rushed sentence, but even when I say yes, he still doesn’t move. Odd.

Still running

This is what I like about living in the city – it’s a great place to see and experience Darwinism at its finest. We’re going along and up ahead a bit, we see a woman jogging while pushing a stroller.....while also hanging onto a big German Shepherd Dog on a leash. Tyson pays them no attention (perhaps his brain is growing as he thinks about an attack?), but the GSD is going nuts, pulling the woman who has a frantic look on her idiot face. I debate whether or not we should cross the street – after all, it’s her dog that’s causing all the commotion while Tyson is perfectly well-behaved – but in the end I take pity and decide I don’t have time to stick around as the stroller falls over, the dog stomps on the baby or wraps the leash around baby’s neck, etc. Another time.

Running past a school that has just let out

This is where things really get fun, and all sorts of magical things start happening. As we approach a gaggle of children and their parents, the clutching of kids to bosoms and looks of fear are already starting, and with a sigh, I go with Tyson into the street so that we can move around this herd of cows a bit more quickly, and at the same time, an SUV comes up behind us. But instead of roaring around us with a scant inch of clearance, as all vehicles in Chicago are apparently required to do, the SUV actually just putters along patiently, no honking or anything, inching forward until we get back on the sidewalk. Weird.

Then I discover that Tyson’s magic extends to the silencing of whiny children. Silenced because their faces are pushed into their parents’ sides so as to not lay eyes on the happy but clearly vicious dog trotting along blithely. My “favorite” woman is the one who takes her child and pushes her face first into a fence, and then puts her own bulky self between said child and me and the dog. Though perhaps she was just doing a reenactment of the last scene from the Blair Witch Project? She couldn’t possibly be wanting to raise her child to be scared of anything and everything, could she?

The coup de gráce comes next, as I notice men cowering in fear. Up ahead a bit there’s a guy standing against a fence, waiting for someone. As soon as he sees us, he starts shaking his head and saying something – so of course I stop and ask him what he’s saying, and all I get are snippets of “not movin’ from this fence, no way” and “ no way no how so you say” babble in response to my “he’s friendly” comment. In the meantime, Tyson is leaning up against the guy hoping to be petted.....or perhaps attempting to kill him by cutting off his circulation? Cunning dog.

Still running

We come across one brave woman who upon seeing Tyson sniffing at a leaf, stops to pet him and ooh and aah, not realizing the grave danger she’s putting herself in. The Beast laps it up, licking her face, wagging his stubby little tail so hard he might fall over – in other words, lulling her into a false sense of security. We chat about rescue dogs, and she tells me about her friends who have a crazy Dalmation, and others who have a small yap dog that’s a complete terror. Or rather, was. “When they called us recently to tell us the dog had passed away, I had to pretend to be sympathetic, while all I could think was THANK GOD.” In the meantime, the vicious Dobe is making friends with other people and children walking by. Little do they know.

The home stretch

We’re nearing home, and I’m about to breathe a sigh of relief that we’ll make it back with Tyson’s head intact, when we start heading past a lot with construction workers putting up yet another ugly house. They’re bustling across the sidewalk, trying to time it just so such that they can splatter mud on unsuspecting passersby, but they see us and suddenly halt as if frozen in time, too fearful to even make rude comments. For good measure, as we’re going past and Tyson looks like he wants to sniff happily at someone, I loudly proclaim “Cerberus! No more construction workers today - you’ll spoil your appetite!” You could hear a pin drop.

So, we’ve now made it back, and Tyson is tucked under his blankie taking a nap, snoring, no doubt saving up his energy for some later sneak attack and dreaming about mayhem and bloodshed. Oh sure, he’s been a perfect dog while he’s been here, sweet and loving, but since he looks so darn mean, well, it’s just a matter of time before Disaster Strikes. I will just have to remain ever alert, and plan for the day when........lo, what’s this? Must go – Tyson has woken up and has come to me with his little stuffed cow in his mouth, and I worry as to what might happen if I don’t give in to his demands to play tug-of-war. I fear for my life as it is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More secrets revealed

A question I am often asked is this:

“Tasha, you’ve obviously perfected your training regimen down to the smallest detail, evidencing a level of dedication that most of us can never hope to achieve. But perhaps you’d be willing to share with us the secrets of what I’m sure is your equally stringent nutrition/diet plan, the one that has helped you hone your physique to its current state of chiseled perfection? Dare any of us mere mortals even dream of approaching similar results?”

Okay, I haven’t been asked this yet, not quite, but I can sense that it’s coming, and thus I’m happy to share my words of wisdom. I myself am a strict adherent to the Paleo Diet for Athletes, also known as the “caveman” diet. The basic premise is built around eating much as, well, the cavemen did: relying on whatever they could hunt or gather and taking advantage of the bounty to eat as much as possible when they could. What this means in practical terms is that one week they might gorge themselves on mastodon steaks, the next, eat nothing but twigs and berries. So not only does this diet involve a monofood approach, i.e. eating only one type of food for days at a stretch, but it also requires being opportunistic.

I know this is complicated, so I’ll explain it in layman’s terms, using examples from my own life. This week for me is Corndog Week – based on the principle of “one food at a time.” If the cavemen were to come upon a cache of corndogs, for instance, they’d eat that until it was gone, not risking life and limb looking for other fare in a cruel and unforgiving world. I follow this same principle – unless, that is, an opportunity comes along to snag other types of food at no cost to myself. Again, using myself as an example – if I’m swimming laps at the pool and in the midst of this intense workout, I see that someone in the lane next to me has foolishly left a granola bar or Twinkie on the ledge for a post-workout snack, I have to grab that item for myself, to help fuel my own workout. It’s a survival instinct that’s hard-wired into all of us, so it’s not as if I have a choice in the matter. Now, if there’s nothing to grab, then I just have to somehow make it through that 20-minute workout without. Tough, but that’s what I’m all about.

Some people don’t like this approach in that it has variation built into it, variation being anathema to most triathletes. They like things all orderly and rigid, everything the same, all the time. That’s fine for those who want to remain stuck in a rut, but for the elite among us, it’s all about adaptation. By changing things up, you’re forcing your body to adapt to the stresses you’re throwing at it, and this makes you a better athlete. Let’s say you’re in a race, following the standard one-GU-per-ten-minutes rule, and oops, there goes your box of GUs that you’ve so carefully strapped to your toptube. The standard triathlete would panic in such a situation and, deprived of his essential fuel, will crumble in agonizing fashion, lurching about on the side of the road, his muscles beginning to atrophy almost instantaneously.

Me, because I’ve been trained to think opportunistically, I’d go to the side of the road, feign a flat or other problem in order to get a good Samaritan to pull over, and would then grab their supplies and be off. Barring that, if I don’t want to lose that much time mucking about, I’ll just suck it up, as I’ve trained myself to do through endless cycles of deprivation and hardship.

So, based on all of these principles, right now I’m forcing myself to eat a LOT, to take advantage of the food supplies I have in the house. At some point the grocery stores might run out of food, or I might not be able to go the several blocks to make it there, and at that point I’ll move into “famine” mode, but right now the plan calls for me to “feast”, and so I eat. Sigh, it’s not easy being me.

That’s a quick and dirty summary of the Paleo Diet – granted, I haven’t actually read the book yet, but it’s pretty obvious to me that this is how it plays out. Feel free to contact me for more tips, if you too are ready to reach your own peak physical form. As you can see, however, it won’t be easy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A quick response!

Well, I’m gratified to report that unlike the shameful treatment I received at the hands of Jay’s last year, the Slim Jim folks obviously recognize the potential gold mine that has just landed in their laps, as I heard back from Chris the ConagraGuy this morning already.

The slight bad news is that in my rush to start spreading the word about Slim Jims and thus help them get the recognition they deserve as they perfect training/racing fuel.......the person I emailed has nothing to do with product marketing or brand management, but rather is their Legal and Compliance Officer. Oops. Note to my friends: if you stop by, please call ahead of time, as I will probably not be answering my door anytime soon. I’m hoping to avoid getting a cease-and-desist order, one that starts out with “Dear Ms. the Triathlon Goddess: Your unauthorized use of our product pictures on your “blog” have recently come to our attention.....” and so on. Sigh.

On the brighter side, Chris did say that he would forward my missive to their Marketing and Snacks Group, who’ll apparently be in touch “if there is a need.” Hmm. I’m picturing what this conversation might look like:

M&S Group Astute Individual #1: "Hey, look at this goldmine of an opportunity that just dropped into our laps, like manna from heaven!"
M&S Group Astuter Individual #2, who has been struggling for weeks in trying to figure out how to bring the lucrative triathlete demographic into the Slim Jim fold: "Unless what you have somehow ties triathlons and Slim Jims together, I don’t want to hear it. My job is at stake here, dammit!"
M&SGAI #1: "That’s just it! World-renowned blogger Tasha the Triathlon Goddess has chosen US, you and me, our little Slim Jim emporium, to be allowed to sponsor her in her pursuits of triathlon greatness! I....I almost can’t believe my eyes – pinch me, would you? This is a miracle!"
M&SGAI #2: "Wha...? Now, don’t kid around with something like that. Are you serious?"
M&SGAI #1: "Yes, yes, it’s true, the answer to all our prayers! Maybe now the kids of all the Conagra executives won’t have to keep going to bed hungry. We’ve been saved!" (falls to knees, kissing the ground)
M&SGAI #2: "Oh my god....I can’t....I......"(starts weeping). "It’s a dream come true. Imagine, to be able to say that we have Miss Tasha, the triangular-shaped babylunged age grouper, on OUR team, extolling the virtues of OUR products, the goodness of OUR spicy meat snacks as she bumbles her way on her bike across obscure Midwestern states comprised primarily of cornfields.......I’m speechless. The gods have smiled upon us."
M&SGAI #1: "Quick, WHERE’S HER NUMBER? Find it – we need to call her NOW, before those damn Oberto’s dried jerky people try to move in and steal her. HURRY!!"

I expect to hear from them any day now......

Grabbing the bull by the horns

While I know that the sponsorship offers I deserve will come rolling in any day now (fingers tapping), my fear is that The Suits are worried that someone as cutting edge, as free-thinking, as seemingly unencumbered by material goods such as myself, will automatically scorn their magnanimous offers of free stuff and other bounty that they hope to heap on me. Little do they know that I’m all about the free stuff, or schwag. In fact, my entire racing seasons are built around the principle of the SMP, or the Schwag Maximization Plan. Take heed of the little secret I’m about to impart to you, dear reader, which is that if a race gives out good schwag and you go pick up that stuff the day before the race........well then, you don’t even have to show up on race day. You’re already a winner! Sometimes, this comes in handy.

But, to the matter at hand. In order to move things along a bit, help all these eager companies overcome their shyness, I’ve decided to make the first move by contacting the company that makes a product near and dear to my heart: Slim Jims. By giving Conagra a chance to lock down the “meaty goodness” category, I’m sure I’ll spark a wave of supplicants from other companies hoping to get in on the ground floor, while they still can. Here, so you can see how it’s done, is my letter, sent directly to a fellow Wharton alum working for Conagra rather than going through the corporate website. Hey, that MBA has to do me SOME good, right?

Dear Chris:

You may have already heard of my little blog, one that is quickly becoming a “cause célèbre" among the triathlon community: Now, as a fellow Wharton alumnus (WG ’98), I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what an important niche target market triathletes are for the entire Slim Jim roster of products. And, because I’m such a fan of your products, I thought I would tell you a little bit about what Slim Jims mean to me, in order to explain why I’d like to discuss our coming to some kind of agreement that could be mutually beneficial to both Conagra/Slim Jim and myself.

My love of Slim Jims began as a child, but as we grow older, we tend to forget about the simple pleasures in life in order to focus on other things. However, since I’ve taken up triathloning and have found myself traversing the U.S. in an endless quest for racing glory, I’ve also found myself in a lot of gas stations. Where no matter what, there are always some Slim Jims handy, right at the counter. Thus, in typical Pavlovian fashion, I initially got into the habit of picking up Slim Jims during my travels – but soon found I couldn’t be without them while training in general. From there, it was a short step to being on some endless ride and discovering that all I had on my bike or person was a Slim Jim tucked away in my bike bag, and feeling endlessly grateful because of it. I can’t tell you how disgusted a person gets with YET ANOTHER gu or gel after oh, about the 4th hour on the bike. And biking across Wisconsin and other agrarian states, as I’m known to do, one can’t generally count on being able to stop at, say, a Big Boy and picking up a cheeseburger or other race fuel of choice.

Flash forward to today. Okay, maybe not TODAY today, but in general, “these days.” Yes, I feel I must take credit for the surge of sales that I’m sure has taken place here in the Midwest, as my legions of fan(s) have heard about my path to triathlon greatness, fueled by Slim Jims. Hence, I’ve learned to be prepared at all times while training or racing, and this includes a bounty of Slim Jims, particularly after my discovery that the small ones are the absolutely perfect size for a Bento Box. Who knew? Apparently the marketing/product geniuses at the Slim Jim factory, that’s who.

I also wish I could convey to you the joy, the rapture I felt as I was dashing to my bike after my epic swim at Ironman Wisconsin, and saw those wonderful Slim Jims sticking out of my Bento Box! Yes, knowing my fondness for these deliciously salty snacks (aka “food of the gods”), friend and IMOO volunteer Angela had snuck over to my bike and added a few......not realizing that I already had my own stash tucked away for later. But really, who can’t use a few more Slim Jims while doing an Ironman – or while on any long ride or run, for that matter?

So, now that I’ve sparked a fanatical devotion towards these wonderful spicy meat snacks among members of my own Chicago Tri Club, I’ve decided it was time to take that next step and contact you, the corporate conglomerate itself, to see if perhaps you’d like to take your product to the next level and give it the recognition and acclaim it deserves. I assure you, this kind of offer does not come along every day, and the potential exposure to a sought-after demographic via my blog is the opportunity of a lifetime.

In return for this kind of marketing nirvana, all I am looking for is a steady supply of Slim Jims to incorporate into my training/fueling plan, as well as the go-ahead to put the Slim Jim logo of excellence on my blog – and to perhaps make a shirt that says “Body by Slim Jims.” As I bike across Wisconsin....and Missouri.....and Minnesota....I would wear this shirt proudly, and as such be a roving beacon of truth who brings the power of Slim Jims to “the little people,” as I like to call them. And if anyone asks about the Slim Jim “special ingredient” of mechanically separated chicken pieces parts that I’m sure your august company is tired of being asked about, why, I’ll just feign innocence, as I’m known to do on a regular basis when confronted with something unworthy of my attention.

Now, I’m not saying you absolutely HAVE to sponsor me of course – that would be churlish – but as a cautionary note, I’d like to note that last year I wrote to our little hometown favorite company Jays, extolling the virtues of their “Oke-Doke Puff Cheezlet” and suggesting a sponsorship might be in order. I did not hear back from them, not a word, and what happened shortly thereafter? Yep, you guessed it: bankruptcy. Is there a connection? Well, that’s for you smart corporate folks to decide, but these days I see a heck of a lot more Wise Cheez Doodles flying off the shelves – and not just into my own shopping cart, either.

I look forward to your response, and I thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Best regards,

Tasha Huebner

There you have it. As to how long it takes before my humble entreaty is acknowledged, let the countdown begin.......

Monday, March 10, 2008

Twins, separated at birth?

On Friday night, the Blackhawks finally had a ceremony to honor the achievements of former Hawks greats Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, after many years of abject shunning. The fans packed the stadium and cheered wildly, though as a measure of just how low the bar has been set by Hawks fans, the fact that home games are now on that newfangled square box called a television (probably just a fad) got a lot of applause as well.

So before the game and ceremony, some sports guy was interviewing Mikita, who was offering up wonderfully smartass comments that the young whippersnapper didn’t seem to know how to handle. Someone who can be witty without a teleprompter or notes? I know, I thought the same thing: what IS this world coming to?

But it was when the interviewer asked Stan what he was looking forward to most about the ceremony that I realized there was some kind of connection between me and Stan, as this was his response : “I’m just looking forward to not making an ass out of myself.” Need I say more? I think the pictures also tell the tale.



Indeed, the similarities are startling. Who knew?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Waiting for Sálome

I go to my Saturday afternoon VQ class, and of course everyone wonders where Sálome is. I’m forced to tell them my tale of woe, that she is in the shop, or the hospital as I like to think of it, but in the capable hands of YCBG Matt. Well, and his minions, but I assume they’ll just observe the master at work. Perhaps bring him a sponge or other bike doohickey as necessary. I tell them about The Tragedy, but without going into great detail, as just the very thought of a blemish on a Shiny New Bike is already enough to make several people blanch and turn away. Though, there did seem to be universal agreement that one would not willingly or knowingly leave ugly clear stickers on an SNB, so as to mar its smooth shiny perfection.

After class, in which I sucked as always, conversation proceeded as usual:

Bridget: "Every time Heather mentioned 'crazy people hearing voices in their head', I thought of you!"
Colleen: "Nice Cat 5 marks on your leg."
Brett: "So it wasn’t just D-POD – you really do just have shitty luck."
Chad, who's doing his first IM this year: "What was your Ironman bike time last year? ‘Cause you seem kind of slow."
Karin L., squinting at me through her eye patch: “Whiiiiiiiine, I want a pretty shiny new bike TOO...”
Ruth: "Tasha, what are you doing on the floor?"

Ah, it’s good to be loved. I know that if someday these same people were to start throwing compliments at me (“Nice bike skills there Tasha!” “Hey, you look exceptionally sporty today!”), my first response would be immediate and almost paranoid suspicion, as I think “hey, what have you done with my friends?”, and then I’d start puzzling over what fatal disease I have that everyone else knows about except me.

To Ruth’s question, I don’t think it was unusual or unexpected that immediately after class, I went around the room and checked out everyone’s bikes, as well as all the VQ bikes on the racks – probably about 50 in all. What, like you wouldn’t have done the same, looking for those bastard telltale stickers? As I did so, my suspicions were confirmed rather quickly.

Me: "Aha! See! I rest my case!"
Bridget: "Umm....what case would that be?"
Me: "NOT ONE BIKE has an evil clear sticker on it, beschmutzifying everything up!"
Bridget: "Beschmu.....never mind. And that means......? That the Felt guy was wrong?"
Me: "No, of course not. It means that I’m not the only dumbass out there! We cyclists and triathletes as a demographic are a veritable sea of dumbasses! Could the good people at Felt not have anticipated this? Who do they think they’re selling to anyway? Maybe I should call them to see if they need someone like me on their staff, the marketing guru with an MBA from Wharton. I am between jobs, as they say........hey, Bridget, are you choking on something?"

As for Karin, I’m forced to explain to her that she cannot have a new bike until she’s suffered greatly with her current one: throwing it into a tar pit in a fit of despair, getting banned from several states for overly loud profanity directed at said bike, continually composing bad haiku that all revolves around evilness of.....well, you get the picture. It is only then that one truly appreciates the perfection of a new bike, doing even the simplest of things. Like shifting! And a thing of beauty it is, too, that whole shifting thing. I still swoon every time I change gears.

I must also remark on something remarkable that happened at class. Yes, I’m talking about Siobhan and her beautiful new bike, the Scott Plasma Contessa. She brings it to class for all to admire, and get this, not only does she NOT surround Pink Beauty with little orange cones immediately, but then, she actually lets me TOUCH her. And even pick her up, to see how light she is! I am almost speechless. And after class I ask Siobhan if she wants me to run outside and clear the sidewalk for her as she’s leaving, but she responds with a smile and a jaunty “No, that’s okay! I can handle it!” Really, folks, have you ever heard of such a thing, such bravery? Again, I am in awe – such insouciance should not go unrecognized. are my hero.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tragedy strikes!

Warning: content may be a little disturbing for some people.

So we all know that when I’ve made the bold step of actually taking Sálome anywhere, I’ve carefully wrapped her in bubblewrap, throws, and in other words have taken every precaution so as to not mar her Felt B12 perfection. In fact, dear MLSF* Kat is knitting a bike cozy for Sálome as we speak.

Imagine my shock and horror, then, when the following scenario unfolds. There I am, peeling the clear vinyl/plasticky stickers off Sálome, the ones that I assume are there to protect the bike in transit, but that no sane person would actually leave on the bike for the duration. I mean, then the bike wouldn’t be shiny smooth perfection, right? It’s not like they have any purpose, yes? And one of them is starting to peel off anyway – some miscreant at VQ even had the audacity to ask if my beloved bike was already cracked or scratched because he saw the outline of the sticker.

I’m carefully peeling off the last one on the fork, wearing magnifying lenses so that I can better see what I’m doing, shining a Klieg light, making sure no one is near in order to avoid unnecessary jostling.......but what’s this? I peel it off, and THE SHINY GLOSS goes with it! I immediately fall into a faint (away from the bike, of course), but when I come to, it wasn’t all just a terrible nightmare, as there’s still this square ugly patch of bare paint. No gloss, no shine. I gaze at Sálome in a stupor for a while, asking the unanswerable questions. How could this happen? How? Why? Why me? WHY ME? WHY???

So this is the horror I’ve been living with for the past week. I mention it to Deanna, who was also about to remove the stickers from her bike, but we decide that the stickers on her Mighty Cervelo were probably NOT put on by Oompa Loompas so hopped up on sugar that they accidentally glued them on instead. Plus she mentioned that since her special Cervelo stickers were probably engineered in the wind tunnel, she could rip them off willy-nilly and the bike would still emerge unscathed. Must be nice.

Finally, with this tale of horror weighing on me, causing lack of sleep, the jitters, etc. (though that might be the 3 gallons of espresso I’ve started drinking each day in hopes of revving up my metabolism), I decide to contact Dave, the FeltGuy who posts on Slowtwitch and who always seems so helpful. I explain my tale of woe, and get this response, within about 5 minutes I might add:


I'm sorry for your misfortune.

Those small clear vinyl decals are "bumpers" that protect the finish as those areas can be impacted by the frame, bars, or cable housing.

The frame has several layers of clear finish on it. If you are careful, some clear nail polish can tidy up any blemish, OR if you are handy, some Marine Epoxy used for repairing fiberglass hulls on boats can be used.

Best Regards,

I’m printing it here because I think it speaks to the great customer service at Felt. Seriously. Not only do I get an immediate response, but it’s so damn polite and nice, because now I’ll re-interpret it to reflect what he was probably really thinking:


I’m sorry for your misfortune. (Man, you have some crappy luck there, huh? Seriously, thousands of stickers on our bikes, and this never happens.)

Those small clear vinyl decals are “bumpers” that protect that finish as those areas can be impacted by the frame, bars, or cable housing. (okay Dave.....don’t say it......bite your tongue, bite, bite.....remember what we learned in that seminar, “Dealing with the Stupid Customer.” I mean really, you’d think it would occur to these dolts that those stickers are there for a REASON, huh? Nah, that’s too logical. Damn fools and their shiny new bike obsession. Lord, give me strength...)

The frame has several layers of clear finish on it. If you are careful, some clear nail polish can tidy up any blemish, OR if you are handy, some Marine Epoxy used for repairing fiberglass hulls on boats can be used. (However, since we live in the real world and we know that some of you whack jobs will take off the stickers anyway, potentially screw things up, and then have a coronary over some tiny blemish which won’t even matter in the grand scheme of things the first time you fall over in your pedals, we’ve come up with a solution. Happy? Ugh, why didn’t I take that job on the Alaskan fishing boat? Sure, I'd constantly be getting hit in the head by 100-lb halibut, but that would be better. Because you’re probably not all that handy, you’ll screw it up and then come back to me complaining that the patch is “too shiny.” In which case I’ll start poking my eye out with a spoon.)

Best regards, (please please please go away)

I also like how Dave used the “good communication” technique that we too learned at Wharton, where you start out nice/positive, smush the bad stuff in between, and then end on a positive note. Kind of like a bad news sandwich.

Me, of course I was all ready to pull out the Marine Epoxy and have at it, in hopes that I’d take care of things and could then sleep at night, but fortunately, I had a chance to talk to Kevin at GAG before I did that. I guess the fine boys at Get a Grip are used to me and my motto (“Doing the Stupid Things, so You Don’t Have To”), because he told me to bring Sálome on by the shop and he'd call YCBG Matt to let him know, so that he could take care of it. I shudder to think of how THAT conversation sounded – yes, I know I’m continually confirming my niche as the Pain-in-the-Ass customer. But at least I can rest easy now, knowing that my bike will be in good capable hands. Maybe I’ll bring the boys some brownies, while I’m at it. Nothing like sweetening the deal a little bit......or at least helping them overlook my sheer stupidity. I hope.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Letters, I get letters.....

The comments and questions are just pouring in, tumbling over one another in their rush to partake in my particularly erudite brand of wisdom. One yesterday, another’s just madness around here, as my little site becomes known as the blog that stormed the nation. So as to not get too far behind this veritable letter tsunami, today I’ll tackle this gem of a comment:

“Annette is from S. Africa, not Australia.”

Now really, folks. I mean like WHATEVER. Aren’t they pretty much the same thing? You've seen one "land down under," you've seen them all, right? Both hot and dusty, both have their own cute bouncing/loping animal – kangaroos in Australia, ostriches in S. Africa. I have biked many times past the ostrich farm near Delavan, WI, with those huge creatures racing along the fence as I go past, so I know of what I speak. Really, as if I could possibly make these things up! Sheesh.

Then of course we have this comment from Deanna:

“I have been assured by Nancy that there are actually no 15% grade hills. Something about the DOT only allowing 10% or something. But I am not sure I trust her judgement as she has been known to run 150 miles across the Gobi.”

I didn’t see this comment immediately because I was doing some research on those anti-altitude sickness pills that people take before they go to places like Tibet which were created on top of a continental shelf and are only suitable for yaks and slow-breathing meditating monks. Or places like Ohio – same thing. I’m sure that’s why I felt like crap last night as I was doing the Triple-T course on the computrainer – I swear I heard the bleating of mountain goats next to me as I attempted to traverse some of those hills. So excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical when we’re supposed to take Nancy at her word. Is she suggesting that the good (albeit sadistic and cruel) people who organize the Triple-T and who made the courses available online......that they’re LYING to us? Or perhaps that I, the consummate professional in all my athletic endeavors, the purely fact-based writer, the person known to her friends and colleagues as “attention-to-detail, always serious Tasha”.....that I might have somehow......exaggerated???


I would like to note that Nancy, who is Deanna’s coach, is a perfectly lovely woman – I’ve met her, she’s sporty and athletic but with an edge - or if not an edge, at least she’s not the type to go spouting Successories at one all day long: “Dream it and you can achieve it!” Thank god.

So she’s the kind of person I like, and seems to know her stuff, but quite frankly, she’s also crazier than a loon. Oh yes. I’ve heard Deanna talk about the insane workout and training schedule, which doesn’t come close to mine in sheer volume and ambition, but is daunting nonetheless, especially to foist onto someone like Deanna, a veritable babe in the woods with this stuff compared to me. Sure, the plan seems normal, until Nancy throws a random 11-hour swim workout in there. Plus having Deanna swim something like 3 times a week now, already, and it’s only March. Wha?!!! Everyone knows that for an IM, you put off the swim training as long as possible, until the last minute panic sets in. Then there’s the fact that Nancy is known for doing these crazy ultra-marathon-triathlon-skeet shooting races in places like Death Valley, that go on for days at a time. So you tell me, who are you going to believe: the elite, championship-winning well-respected coach who’s been training people for years, or me, Tasha the Triathlon Goddess? I rest my case.

P.S. I had Bridget there on the computrainer next to me as proof that the grades really were 15%.........

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Falling Slowly

A note to my reader(s): if I should suddenly disappear while attempting to do the Triple-T in southern Ohio at the end of May, please direct the authorities to look in all nearby ditches and cornfields. I will probably be there with legs approximating cinder blocks, still clipped into my bike. I’d check the 15% grade hills first. 15%????? What kind of jackass designs a course with those kinds of hills? Oh yeah, the same jackass who gets a bunch of us idiots to pay good money to ride them. Duh.

My friend Laura was looking at my blog earlier and when she saw the course profile picture, inquired : “What is this, a picture of the parting of the Red Sea? Where’s Moses?” I will try to Photoshop that in, to make it true to life. In the meantime, I think I need to get a few more climbing gears onto Sálome. Anyone have a quintuple-chainring they want to sell?

I would also like to share a haiku I composed while going up one of the 6,000 10%+ grade hills on that course last night:

Triple-T torture
Oh I hate your crazy hills
Make them go away.

I believe that says it all. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Taking the plunge

I’ve decided that it’s time to transition from my extreme dryland training to actually getting in the pool once in a while, and so this morning I headed to the gym to brave the arctic waters. After tossing the baby harp seals a few sardines, I get in and crank out a few laps, totally smoking the 8-year old child who’s taking a swim lesson in the lane next to me. Hey, he’ll need to learn how it feels to be crushed and humiliated at some point, might as well start now.

After my swim, I meet up with Colleen in the locker room, who bemoans the fact that she’s not a very good motivating force for me, lollygagging her way in as she is. However, I assure Colleen that her jesting comments on the blog (“you have to actually get in the pool to do laps, you know”) combined with the continual encouraging emails (“hey Babylungs, do you think you might be able to get your fat lazy ass out of the house to meet me at the pool one of these days?”) are a key source of motivation. Okay, so her emails actually say “Hey, I’m swimming at 9:15, want to meet me there?”, but I’m able to interpret them within the larger global context.

Another primary motivator for me, and the one that finally compelled me to get into the pool at such an early stage in my IMOO training, is of course Deanna. Who has now asked me several times if I’m using the plan from my Be Iron Fit book again this year, and then informed me that “I got that book and looked at the plans, but the swims I’m doing now are already way longer and harder than the “peak phase” swims for the “competitive” plan,” accompanied with a mocking laugh. Okay, what she actually said, wait, that’s what she said. So while I have the utmost confidence in my dryland training and visualization methodologies, I decided it couldn’t hurt to do an occasional lap or two.

Deanna is also the one who talked me into doing the Triple-T, aka the “What are you, nuts?” Race. It consists of 4 races in one weekend: a sprint on Friday, 2 olympics on Saturday, and a half-IM on Sunday. And then death. Naturally, it’s all uphill. For once, this insanity did not emanate from me – nope, Deanna’s idea. I think she’s trying to kill me, to eliminate the competition before IMOO. She senses the inherent superiority of my Thighmaster Training Plan, and is panicking. Tonight I’m going to Bridget and Colleen’s to use their Computrainer to ride the first Olympic course. I tried looking up the profile on the TTT website, but this is what I found:

I plan to write the RD later on today, letting him know that he accidentally posted a chart of someone going into cardiac arrest rather than the actual race profile. I hate when that happens.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Running the Gauntlet

Last Saturday

As usual, I wake up and immediately begin breathing deeply, essentially giving myself a full-body workout so that I’m properly warmed up before VQ, aka the Cycling Class from Hell. Some of my triathloning colleagues go for a run in the morning, but really, talk about a recipe for injury. I shake my head at these neophytes.

I generally don’t eat before VQ as I don’t want all of my cycling power going instead towards my digestive system, but I do take along some GU to have during class. Let’s see – it’s about a 2-hour class; 8 GUs should do it?

After cleaning everything out of my garage so that I have a clear path to my car, I tuck Sálome in carefully and set out for the approximately 2.2-mile drive, typically fraught with worry because of assclownish driving, but I’ll be especially careful today, and I’m giving myself plenty of time to get there.

2 hours later

Geez, what the HELL is with everyone today?? You’d think they’d never seen someone driving with appropriate caution while transporting precious cargo or something! Hmm, maybe it’s some obscure Polish holiday, Kazcmierovski Day or something, and everyone was honking their horns in celebratory enthusiasm. Yeah, that’s it.

After I park, I pull out my flares and use them to delineate a path to the door of VQ, and then caaaaaarefully bring Sálome in. I’m kind of sorry I had to ask that little old lady to move out into the street so she didn’t clog the sidewalk, but she looked pretty nimble navigating the potholes. No sense taking chances with something as precious as an SNB.

Once I set up on the computrainer, I put little orange cones in a circle around Sálome so that everyone can admire from a safe distance, as they do. Once class starts, however, my laser focus comes into play, along with (I’ll admit) a touch of competitiveness.

Me: “Hey Colleen – good luck keeping up with me, even with those fancy Zipp wheels on your bike. Not helping you much NOW, are they?”
Colleen, looking for excuses: “Umm, since we’re on trainers, the wheels really don’t make a diff.....”
Me: “Blah blah....I can’t heaaaaaar you, with the wind rushing by me so fast as I zoom past you all!”
Colleen, looking a bit flushed: “You might want to turn the fan dow......”
Me, interrupting: “Hey, look at the computer screen – I’m SO WAY ahead of you!”
Colleen, for some reason gritting her teeth: “That’s because I have the Powertap on my wheel, you buffoo.......”

Whatever else she said was lost as suddenly Annette, who’s in the row in front of me, turns and launches a Sport Bean in my direction. What ho? Luckily, I’ve mentally prepared myself for these kinds of stealth attacks from pretenders to my Triathlon Goddess throne. I dodge the dangerous little bullet, deflecting it across the room harmlessly. Well, somewhat harmlessly. I think it gets Karin L. square in the eye, but I’m sure the blindness is only temporary. I shoot Annette a fulminating glare, and she grins cheerily at me, as always. The rest of the class passes without incident.

As I’m leaving, even though I’ve taken my time packing up so that the more clumsily oafish among us can make their way out, I get to the lobby and run into a bottleneck, or our "Herbie", as we would say at Wharton. Annette, chatting with someone, telling him useful information about the Tri Club. Sigh! Can’t she be a little more self-absorbed like the rest of us, at least once in a while? Worried that she might start gesticulating wildly with that Australian enthusiasm she’s known for, I stop.

“NO SUDDEN MOVES,” I bark. “That’s right people, keep those hands steady, where I can see them, comin’ on through. Careful, careful......”

I gingerly edge past them and make my way to my car cautiously, since it’s now dark out. I’m thinking – maybe Sálome will just be my inside bike, since the world is clearly a dangerous, unpredictable place, and trying to traverse in it with an SNB is almost impossible. I’m exhausted. This training plan of mine – again, I cannot stress enough, don’t try it at home......