Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hard Life Lesson from Dad

Back in the glory days when publishers actually made money, my company bought us all Ipods for Christmas. One coworker was especially excited because she craved being able to listen to music at work. A few months later, I noticed that she was no longer using her Ipod. I asked her why and she said that she gave it to her teenage daughter who lost her own (which had also been a Christmas gift).

I laughed out loud in disbelief.

When I was five years old, I had one shiny quarter. I carried that quarter in my pocket to the state fair determined to buy something. (No, I'm not super old, I just had a five-year-old's understanding of what things cost). As we were walking in from the parking lot, I reached into my pocket to discover I had lost the quarter.

I told my dad about my predicament and asked him to replace the quarter. He replied, no. I pleaded and he said, "If I lost a hundred dollars, do you think I could go to Grandpa and ask him for more money?"

I knew the answer was no, but I tried to point out there was a large difference between a hundred dollars and a quarter. He remained firm and I learned a valuable lesson, never ask my dad for a quarter. I mean, if you lose something, only you are responsible for it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My First Olympic Tri

Last week was the 1st Annual Downriver Rampage Triathlon in Green River, Utah. What that translates into is a one mile swim down the Green River, a twenty-five mile bike ride, and a six mile run.

The race started out different than most in that there were about five hundred fewer people than a normal race. I'm used to being some random number like 462, but that day I was 9. While I was a lot safer, I felt a heck of a lot more exposed.

Because the race was downriver, they had to haul us to the starting line. Despite there being so few of us, it still took every hotel van and river rafting shuttle in Green River to get all of us there. They dropped us off where the pavement ended. There waiting was a farmer in his truck pulling a flatbed trailer. Wearing our wetsuits, we climbed onto the trailer to be hauled through the farmer's cornfields to the starting line.

To warm up, I started swimming upriver, which convinced me that I need a river to train in. I could just tether myself to a tree and and swim up and if the rope tightens, I know I need to speed up. It was physically harder to stand still in the water than it was to swim down. It usually takes me around fifty minutes to swim a mile, that day I did it in fourteen.

I jumped on my bike and headed into the desert toward the book cliffs. Luckily the path was well marked because for a good part of it, I was biking by myself. Even though there were a few hills (I have an aversion to hills), I was able to pass several bikers. I came into the transition area feeling pretty good since my odometer read a few miles less than twenty-five. Who knew all this time I was training harder and faster than I realized?

All my gains were for not though. I fell apart a mile or so into the run. It was a two-loop course and just when I thought I was finished with the first loop, it turned a corner and kept going. I could see the finish line and I could hear the other contestants crossing it, knowing they were miles ahead of me.

My throat was dry with thirst, but every sip I tried just cramped up my stomach. My legs stiffened beneath me and I couldn't bend my knees. That's the closest I've come to curling up in the fetal position and waiting for the officials on the golf carts to pick me up.

One thing I love about tri's is that a lot of the finishers stick around to cheer everyone across. Though my mom was the only who knew I was still out there, fifty people cheered when I cross the finish line. Next year I'll be faster.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Looking Fear in the Face, Part 2

In honor of last week's blog post, I am competing in an olympic triathlon this weekend in Green River, Utah. And in honor of the competition, I am writing a truncated blog this week.

For those not familiar with triathlons, "Olympic" tri refers to specific distance. This particular race will be a 1 mile swim, 25 mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run. I wrote a story about my first tri and published it in Chicken Soup for the Runners Soul. Below is the opening paragraph.

The second I hit the water, I knew I made a mistake. There were about two hundred swimmers all diving in the lake at the same time, kicking off the first leg of our triathlon. We were indiscernible in black wetsuits and gray swim caps and kicked up so much water that you couldn’t see anything that wasn’t right next to you. My wetsuit sucked against my stomach, keeping me from taking any deeps breaths. The little air I took in was mixed with green water. I tried to hold my breath and swim underwater but the green murkiness blinded me. I could feel people swimming over the top of my legs and I knocked into someone with every stroke attempted. Panic quickly set in. Even though I was only fifty feet out, I knew I couldn’t touch—couldn’t touch, couldn’t breathe, and couldn’t see. This is how people drown.