Aaaaand, one time this morning, I did a triathlon.
I just finished a text to my dad - my body is STILL shaking. But tell Brennan (my kid brother) all about it anyway? I'd like him to "tri" one someday. har har. MOSTLY I JUST NEED EVERYONE TO KNOW AND BE ALL PROUD OF ME AND STUFF.
But in all seriousness, I LOVED it! Truly one of the best races I've ever done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My finger was too fatigued to lift off the exclamation button.
Anyway, I begin my tale.
There was talk of this triathlon before I left for Africa. Because it's a young single's stake event that happens every year, and people love it, and probably hold hands through it all, and yada yada. So I committed in my head. Because, new experience right? And also running.
So I leave the country, thinking nothing of it. Come back to the country and casually register, secure a bike, and then drive out to pick it up after work. Which getting a bike into a car seems like a small task. But it's NOT. Let me tell you. Between folding the seats down, maneuvering this awkward two-wheeled thing into the trunk, and suddenly having to peeeee - because of course every time I'm doing something that requires full completion before anything else can happen, like fumbling to unlock the front door while balancing 1,400 grocery bags on my arm, my bladder suddenly decides, must urinate NOOOOWW - but because I had been working on this bike for an embarrassing amount of time, my door of opportunity closed to go back to my friends house without airing my incompetency, so I consider dropping my pants in a neighbors yard, which wasn't all super weird to me at the time, because people's yards are full of trees and bushes, which is what animals have a biological instinct to secrete on, so it's like, natural, except houses with windows aren't, so I don't, and then FINALLY, the bike is secure! And of course as soon as the urgent task is closed, I no longer have any need to go, so I drive away covered in sweat and grease, questioning my ability to do much of anything in this world. Let alone a triathlon that I haven't trained for. I mean, I sat on a bike last summer. And I was in a pool once. So okay.
So my friends and I arrive at the race start early this morning. And of course, I discover my front tire is completely flat. And also I can't get on the bike because the seat is too high. I may have rolled a little too far with the no preparation thing. BUT NO MATTER! Because life always pans itself out, usually creating a wild adventure along the way. I'm all about just going with the flow.
And also, picking good friends.
So Cici comes to the rescue with my bike pump. And Ty takes care of the seat with his Alan Wrench. (I used to think my dad named his tools, and I made fun of him all the time like, "you need Joe Hammer too?").
And then I realize I have to peeeeee again. But there are no bathrooms, and there is nothing I dislike more than racing with a full bladder. So I run to the other side of the elementary school and get all intimate with a bush. Oh, hi cars! And someone's front window - "HEY CHILDRENS, how's those morning cartoons?" But I feel no guilt. Except I will pretend to if they have security cameras.
I run back to the starting point, answering Cici's call about her bringing the wrong bike pump and heading back home for the other one. Because race bikes are special. And also they make no sense, as this is my first experience with one. I tell her, "If you can't find my pump, that's okay. Really really really appreciate you trying though! Running now, loveyoubye!"
And we take off.
I sprint to the front of the pack like an over-arrogant person would. Because the running portion is only a 5k, and I'll figure out what to do with the 12 mile bike portion - with no bike - when I get to it. Also, Mace told me to pretend it was a zombie apocalypse, so obviously I have to be faster than the person behind me AT ALL TIMES.
But then my body doesn't understand what's happening, not comprehending the word "triathlon." But that's just how I do things. I just DO them. I don't really think about them. Life really gets happenin for me that way. Except my body doesn't feel the same and revolts in every possible way, trying to puke and convulse and die. But, I was just that annoying person that blew passed everyone, so obviously I can't slow my pace. I choke down all my pain as a lesson for my pride.
I come sprinting back into the bike lot, after slowing down to a more reasonable pace. Well, that was nice. Except I don't really think that because I have .00002 seconds to start the next course. I quickly check the tire of my bike, expecting that I'll have to just going keep running. Its completely full!!! Oh Cici. That woman. Most reliable I know. I'm grinning ear-to-ear, feeling such relief. Hop on and take off.
Wobble baby, wobble baby. Okay, steady now. Next, what are these foot strap things? Are my feet expected to start flying all over the place? Because in my biking experience, I've never had crazy flailing legs, but okay. How does it even make any sense to clip in your feet and then get on the bike? But it makes even less sense to strap your feet in while riding? So I flip the pedals upside and ride without them. Next, pacing. I know how running feels to gage myself, but all I know about biking is that I'm probably going to wound my crotch. I suppose I'll put a sock down my pants if I think I'm going to be infertile. And shifting.. can't even find the gears, pushing on screws and stuff.
However, I quickly realize that my runners thighs feel absolutely nothing. Those thick things are proving worthy! So I kick it all the way up, pedaling faster and faster, cruising by people. Even leaning low like a true cyclist. And on the uphill, I don't even break pace. My legs are turbo! I'm passing all these people, full concentrating on the muscles in my legs - "Right. Left. Right. Le.... Rig... Le... ow.... ow.... owowow." Reach the top. A few big heaving breaths. And I take off again. After a small course, I come back down the hill, and I'm flying!! Rushing wind. I can't believe how fantastic and freeing this is! All worth it just for this!
I reach the exchange, sad that the biking portion is over. Quickly dismount and let my bike fall into the grass. One step, and I nearly fall. Legs are jello. But the crowd of cheering people is thick, and everything is happening so fast, so I rush between all the people with my bow-legged waddle and into the building for the swim.
The bleachers are full of people yelling, and the pool is even more full of body limbs crashing everywhere. But again no time to think or process. A girl tells me to jump in lane 6 and weave down to lane 1. I strip off some clothes in front of everyone, even that being extremely liberating.
I'm standing at the edge of the pool and panic for a second on how I'm supposed to enter. Like a dainty jump and then kick off the wall? Or a dive? Yes, a beautiful swan dive!
So I belly flop.
I flip on my back and start kicking. Body limbs are flying everywhere. And it's really, really loud. I continue backstroking as fast as I can, reaching the edge of the lane and having to duck under the divider to the next. Except I can't catch enough breath, so I come up choking and clinging to the wall. I immediately kick off and swim even harder. Bodies. Splashing. Noise. Legs are burning. Panting. Exhausted. I try Chicken-Eagle-Soldier to mix it up. Which I realize is incredibly rude because then I'm fanning out the entire width of the lane, but THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH! So I do one solid stroke and just as I'm eagling, a man's hand swipes fully down my crotch. Wow. LEGS CLOSED. And I go back to kicking as hard as I can. Bodies are everywhere, and I'm not even sure what's my own anymore. The loud roaring noise is really making me panic. This is exactly what it felt like to crash with the Titanic and 1,200 other turbulent humans.
Faster, faster, faster. Just make it end!
I reach the end of the fifth lane, this time flopping over the divider because I can't handle another second without air by going under the water and under the divider. I kick off and soar into the end. I pull myself entirely out of the pool with my panicked adrenaline arms. Legs are shaking and useless.
I nearly collapse when I stand. My head goes light, and I lose vision for a few moments as I stumble forward. Going to pass out. I have faint memory of a girl putting a rubber band around my wrist. But vision is so blurred, so maybe a small man?
I rush passed the bleachers, which is now just a blur of open mouths and faint echoes. I rush down the ramp, veering side-to-side as if I'm drunk. Not sure where I'm headed, but I follow the crowd as they all cheer me on. A friend gives me a high-five on my way down, and I grab his hand a bit too hard for support. Everything is so rushed and cloudy.
I reach a table where a woman cuts off my wristband. Does this mean I'm done?? This table is the finish line? I mean anti-climatic, but I don't care anymore. AM I DONE??? Lady, I can't think, you need to tell me.
Slowly at first, until suddenly I'm entirely flooded with happy endorphins! The post-race high that I am addicted to. I start jumping up and down, "FUN FUN FUN!!" I keep screaming about how I want to do this again and again and AGAIN!! Because I still don't have my hearing all the way back so I think I must yell. And also, I still can't see clearly.
Since all my senses are malfunctioning, and I have no ability to hide my insanenss, I decide to go home before I embarrass myself more. I take some pictures with friends, and then I gather my belongings from all the stations where I stripped different pieces, and pack up my car - this time loading the bike in 20 seconds. But as I'm driving home, my entire body starts trembling. My arms can barely keep control of the wheel. I feel....
I realize my body is in shock. Poor little thing really thought the Titanic was going down. All fun and games until your body thinks its actually drowning.
I arrive home, still shaking, and decide to do what comforts my body best. Drop by bags, head back outside, and
go for another run.
And there ends the time I "tri"ed. I love keeping my todays as the last time I tried something for the first time. I love to live with my arms wide open to every bit of the world. Except not my legs. Those are staying closed.
Until my next triathlon, Jack. I'll never let go.
Upward and onward,
I LOVED my legs after the race because they had all evidence of a triathlon. Made me proud. Race number on one. Bike grease on another.