Another race, another opportunity for me to look like an elephant in a tutu. I’m not sure why I would start doing Triathlons when I am not at all known for my grace. In fact my Dad and my Uncle Ross have called me “Grace” most of my life. And not in a cute, cuddly way. In that sarcastic, Masshole way of giving you a nickname based on what they can make fun of you for. If we mock, we love! I mean, I am constantly tripping and falling down. Or, almost falling down. I’m pretty good at quickly getting upright. Give my BFF Sarah any opportunity and she has a MILLION stories about me falling. And they’re all pretty hilarious. It’s like I never got out of the awkward stage of sixth grade when I had a growth spurt. Back then it was like I couldn’t handle suddenly being tall. And the last few years as my weight skyrocketed, I never got used to making room for my body to get through spaces so I am CONSTANTLY knocking stuff over. If I ever have a day where I don’t trip or knock something over, be very afraid. That would mean the Earth has suddenly tilted on its axis or something.
Naturally, with my natural grace, I’ve chosen the sport of triathlon. Where could the danger be for an ungraceful person there? We start the race generally by making our way through the water usually over rocks that are slippery. The gun goes off and you head through what can best be described as a melee through the sometimes (usually) rough ocean. Then very awkwardly high step out of the ocean trying to unzip your wetsuit while trying to shake off the 50 blows to the head you received. Dizzy and out of breath, RUN barefoot over soft sand where you are sure to get every pebble possible imbedded in your feet. In Transition, throw those bike shoes on and (soaking wet), run with your bike to the mount zone and try to get on and clip in without falling. Now there are lots of folks who are able to have their shoes ALREADY CLIPPED IN and they do this flying leap onto their bikes and put their shoes on while peddling. We call them real
assholes athletes. btw, I can’t even possibly fathom getting to that point. Like ever. Lordy, the bones I would break! Me, what I like to do is half jog/walk (wog?) my bike and then stop, mount and then take roughly a dozen tries to clip in. (note: this method may not be for everyone). Then pedal as fast as you can while trying to get some nutrition/hydration in. All the while avoiding potholes and other athletes. ON YOUR LEFT!! yes. I know. I heard you and your fancy wheels coming up on me like a freight train, Mr Aero. Incidentally, my Indian Racing Name is On Your Left. Someday I hope it’s because that’s what I say the whole race instead of what I hear. But I digress. On the bike you gotta take the bottles in and out of the cage without looking (I apparently like to do this without pedaling. #notatallefficient), I usually have stuff in my shirt pocket to take, and then there are the turns and bridges and oy. There’s the dismount zone! Once remembering to unclip (not always a guarantee), there’s the ever so graceful dismount. A friend of mine has a lovely picture of me from a race when I dismount and the crotch of my shorts gets stuck on the seat. I can call him a friend instead of a former friend cause he never posted said picture. Legs tired, run with your bike and slippery bike shoes into Transition again to get ready to run. I always have a lovely moment where I almost fall over trying to get my run shoes on. Like every single time. Then off on the run! Pretty simple right? just run and don’t trip. Just watch out for that curb/crack/pothole/homeless person. I once tripped over ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in a 5k and fell down. Ripped my leggings. (the other runners were nice enough to ask how I was as they stepped over me). I’m still waiting to actually fall down at the finish line. I’ve tripped many times but recover like a champ.
And that’s all just racing. The daily grind of training gives me many many more opportunities to potentially hurt myself. Me getting on and off my trainer with the tile floor/bike shoe combo is my own personal Hurt Locker every time. Pre dawn runs on the uneven sidewalk while trying to maintain form makes a baby deer on ice look like they’ve got their S*@t together!
So why am I drawn to a sport that has that much potential for embarrassment and injury? Well, for those moments in the water when I feel lightweight and smooth, on the bike when I feel fast and it’s effortless and on the run when……..well….when it’s over.