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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vindication

While I may not always be the sharpest tool in the deck, on occasion I do have flashes of brilliance, and when we got to the Evergreen Lake site for the triathlon and it started raining, said brilliance kicked in: I looked at the churning waters, the interminable distance between buoys, the dark clouds, felt the wind and rain, and thought, “hmm, mayhap I’ll just do the sprint distance instead.” This was possibly the best decision I’ve made in quite a while (other than my newfound embracing of a carcinogen-laden lifestyle).

Because, dear reader (s), rain was definitely the order of the day. And not just any rain, but howling monsoons, curiously without lightning, which is the one thing that would have shortened or eliminated the swim. Given the fact that I’ve been “unfortunately” unable to swim for those critical 10 days pre-race (Note: this is a good example as to why one should NOT put things off with the thought of “oh, I can ramp up my swim training in the couple of weeks before my next race”), I would have been okay with this, but alas, it was not to be. I’m happy to note, however, that I did NOT swim into any boats this year, and veering off course added only about 10 minutes to my swim time, so progress has been made.

After the swim is of course when my personal little comedy of errors starts. I have the longest transitions in all of creation, because I put all my stuff in plastic bags so it wouldn’t get soaked. Then, in the first 2 minutes of the bike, I’m going over the speedbumps out of the park and of course, at bump 2, my aerodrink with Infinnit goes flying out of its bracket and crashes to the ground. For a split second I debate whether I should stop, but the fact that we’re not supposed to litter the course AND the fact that I don’t want to have to come back here later searching for my new aerodrink bottle compels me to stop, trot back, put the damn thing back on and re-velcro it on. What annoys me most is that I had been zip-tying it to my bike without a problem, but the night before when I was packing, I found the Velcro tie and used that. Again, I repeat the adage: NEVER USE ANYTHING NEW OR DIFFERENT IN A RACE! No matter HOW small. Recipe for disaster.

As I’m riding, the rain picks up, and since I forgot to put on my sunglasses, it’s pelting me in the eyes, so I’m squinting as I ride along. And I quickly realize that my devotion to the Atkins plan is probably not the best - even though that morning I diligently “carbo-loaded” in the form of a packet of oatmeal, a cheese stick, and half a Pepsi as opposed to my new favorite drink Tab. Surely sufficient for a triathlon, no? No. The answer to that would be no. Because that was my breakfast and I can feel any power I might have had in my legs fading away as I try to bike through the rain.

Then, salvation comes along in the form of Bridget, who’s passing me and sees co-pilot Dino, and asks me how my ride is going. I glumly note that I lost my Infinit 2 minutes in, and she offers up her spare bottle of Infinit and we do a most excellent Tour de France-like handoff of her bottle to me. Sweet! I’m saved! Though even with the nutrition, I note with some wry amusement that my legs feel heavy and stiff until.......yep, mile 10. Thank god that the sprint distance has the same 40K bike course as the Olympic. But then I also belatedly realize that it’s a 40K bike ride – duh! – so one bottle of nutrition wouldn’t have been enough anyway. If someone has seen my brain walking around in a cornfield somewhere, could you please contact me? Thanks.

At one point, I start to internally snicker at the person ahead of me wearing a camelbak, which seems silly in a race.....but then stop myself as I think about the fact that I’m the one who had only one aerodrink of fluid that I promptly lost before mile 1, with no backup in the form of gels or anything else. So who’s the dumbass here?

The entire way we go from monsoon rain, to rain and wind, to pelting/stinging rain, to monsoon rain, and I develop a hierarchy in my mind whereby wind and rain sucks, stinging rain is most sucky of all, but just monsoon rain is kind of entertaining. The roads are flat and fast and straight, and people are spread out enough that for some stretches, it’s just me and the sound of my wheels whooshing along in the rain. Which I actually kind of like, because it’s just crazy enough to be fun. And I’m flying along at this point, so I don’t even feel as poky as usual. Life is good. When a woman passes me later and says “it could be worse,” I think to myself, you don’t know the half of it. Rain, piece of cake.

The run, well, suffice it to say that my attempts to suck every last bit of Infinit from my drink bottle has left me with a side stitch the size of Omaha, while the rain has scrunched my socks into my shoes to such an extent that I finally stop, take off my shoes, and fix the damn things. My chest hurts also as I run, and I'm annoyed because the doctor didn't mention this possibility, and I wonder if it's because of The Lump or from the huge-ass bruise from the biopsy. I start to understand why women take the attitude of "get this thing out of me now!" - since you start to feel that something that came along so suddenly and unexpectedly must be growing exponentially every second, refusing to hew to any sort of reason.

After the race, as the sun comes out and beats down on us, we stick around through the Oly awards and then leave so that we can take showers and check out of the hotel in time. Bridget asks me if I think I won an award that we should stick around for, and I just laugh. Scoff, really. Guffaw.

Later, as we start driving back to Chicago, I sternly warn Bridget and Colleen that in order to avoid the Path of Doom that last year put me on the same trajectory as the Assclown, we needed to diligently avoid stopping at any estate sales or Dairy Queens. Somehow, despite their love of all that is tchotchke-esque or frozen dairy treat, they agree. I then check my voicemail, and find that I have a call from Angela, something about how I won an age group award and she has my cowbell. Huh? My first and only thought is that she accidentally dialed the wrong number and left a message meant for someone else. So I call her back.

Me: "Hey, got your message."
Angela: Yeah, it’s so cool, you won an award for 4th place in your age group! I got your cowbell trophy for you!"
Me: "That’s impossible."
Angela: "No, it’s true! When they called your name, Tasha Huebner, we were all like, huh? But then I went up and got your award."
Me: "That doesn’t make any sense. I lost my aerodrink and had a lousy run. Did everyone else in my AG spontaneously combust?"
Angela: "I don’t think so."
Me: "Were they all DQ’d for some arcane but enforceable rule?"
Angela: "Nope."
Me: "Were there only 4 people in my AG?"
Angela: "Doubt it. But even if there were, who cares? You won a cowbell trophy!"
Me: "Oh, don’t worry, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m just skeptical. Are you sure they didn’t screw up the scoring somehow?"

Given my issues during the race, one can understand why I would be skeptical. After all, while I’ve had what I felt were good races, this wasn’t one of them. Still, I would like to note for all you naysayers and skeptics out there that clearly, this is proof that my dryland training and finely honed visualization techniques have come to fruition. I’m surprised that it’s happened so soon, but there you have it: greatness and inherent athletic ability cannot be contained. Sometimes, I surprise even me.

My other lesson learned here is – no matter how slow you think you are, you may always be in contention for an award, so you should NEVER dawdle. Perhaps had I not chosen to read a chapter or two of War and Peace in transition, I might have even propelled myself to 3rd place? I can only shake my head at the missed opportunity.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to read up on what a “raw food diet” consists of. It has been suggested to me that I forego the chemo/surgery standard protocol and try this instead, and far be it from me to discount any cutting edge advice given to me by nameless/faceless people on the internet. I don’t mind being a guinea pig to see if it actually works or has the same success rate as, say, the proven techniques. Really, what do I have to lose?

2 comments:

Jen said...

Tomatoes are raw food.

D said...

What do you have to lose? You have DQ, and Tab, and all those beautiful carcinogens that make your brain happy while consuming.
Eat some raw chicken... see what happens :P