Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My Road Trip to Nowhere Part I

August 17th, 2005

It’s Wednesday morning and I’m up in New Hampshire now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ready to put my thoughts on paper about the race that didn’t happen. It’s hard to know even where to begin, but I guess simply describing the events as they unfolded is simplest.

Friday 8/12/05

Mary and I went into town to attend the women’s breakfast at 8:00 AM. I always enjoy the breakfast and seeing the ladies that I’ve met over the last few years. The other dynamic is the checking each other out that occurs. Mary noticed this in particular when she was taking a vitamin and someone asked her if she was taking Advil, and was she hurting. Then I guess the woman lost interest when she found out Mary wasn’t in her age group.

This year’s theme was sharing our stories about getting into triathlon. I had sent in a piece that was comprised of journal entries from August and September of 1983 regarding getting ready for my first race, and then the actual race itself. Jean liked it so much that she asked me if I would read part of it at the breakfast. I was already out in Kansas when she asked me this so I told her to bring a copy because I didn’t have it with me. She assured me she would.

Well, she didn’t, so I had to wing it. Not only that, I was the first speaker. So wing it I did, and actually it went very well. Everyone got some good laughs about my early venture into triathlon as a runner. I actually managed to stay within the five minute limit too.

It was good that I was the first speaker. I would have had a lot of difficulty winging it with my brand of humor after hearing the other stories. The next story after mine was pretty light hearted also, but the three that followed were very moving stories of women who did triathlon despite going through ugly an ugly divorce, losing a teenage son in a hazing incident, and struggling with MS. No this wasn’t one person! Three women, with three very compelling stories.

Since Mary and I were staying out near the airport we decided we would kill time by just hanging out until the expo and registration started at noon. It’s easy to kill time when you have a hotel full of tri-geeks wandering around, also trying to kill time. You talk to people you know from other races, and you talk to people you’ve never met before. But because we’re triathletes it’s easy to find common ground.

Finally the registration opened and we happened to have plopped ourselves down on the floor right in front of the entrance so we were some of the first ones in the door. After picking up all my stuff, I went on a shopping spree. I am not really a shopaholic, but when it comes to triathlon expos I can become one. I think I managed get out of there for under $250.

After going to the race meeting we finally head back to our hotel to pick up our bikes and go out to the start to rack them. With everything spread out so much, it made for a very long day. The race venue was way out in the middle of nowhere, but it certainly looked beautiful. Mary was having some mechanical issues with her bike. We had not done a great job of putting her bike back together on Thursday night! After resolving that we went out for about a 5 mile ride. On the way back I decided to air it out a bit and see what sort of gearing and momentum I would need on these rolling hills. What a fun bike course this appeared to be.

When racking your bike you get to scope out your competition a bit, and see what they look and act like. Mary and I got to see up close and personal the super intensity of one the heavy hitters in our age group. She’s one that would certainly finish in the top five as long as she had no technical issues. I thought I was intense and got hyped up, but I’m Ms. Mellow compared to her. First she was bitching about the racks being too high, and that her fluids were going to spill out if she set up her bike by the seat. Then she hadn’t brought any plastic bags to put over her bike, so she was mooching from others, including Mary. Then I guess she didn’t like one of the bags she got. “OMG! Take a chill pill lady!”

In the meantime the storm clouds are blowing in, and the announcer is saying that bad weather is coming in. He’s suggesting that people get their preparations done and leave. The clouds looked like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz. This may have been Missouri, but it sure felt like Kansas. We’re driving back to our hotel and watching really wild lightning that’s going across the sky, not up and down. Mary is freaking out, and saying “What if it’s doing this tomorrow?” I’m trying to be optimistic and say, “It’s going to be beautiful tomorrow. This is going to blow out of here tonight.”

For the most part I’ve been pretty fortunate with weather at my races. I’ve had to do a few in the rain, but for the most part I’ve lucked out with some dry days when the forecast called for rain. I was trusting God to keep me safe, and help me do my best on race day. That didn’t necessarily mean kick butt, and do my best time ever. It just meant doing what I could do given all the circumstances of my life right now. After all my angst and freak outs earlier in the week, I had given it to Him. Whatever tomorrow would bring in terms of weather, and such I was trusting God to see me through it.

John, Mary and I went to the hotel next to ours for dinner. I had decided after last year’s crappy pasta party, that I wasn’t going to do that again. Also considering how far the host hotel I was glad I had not opted to do that. One trip a day into downtown Kansas City was enough.

The hotel where we had dinner was the site of a ballroom dancing competition. It was interesting contrasting competitive ballroom dancers with triathletes. They too have their rituals, and you’d see them practicing their routines out in the foyer before it was time for them to go on. You’d see them primping and preening to make sure everything looked just right. What they do is pretty and graceful, but it’s competition and the same intensity that drives triathletes can also be seen in these dancers.

After dinner, I went back to the room, and did my race eve rituals. I went through my checklist, putting all my gear back in the bag, laying out my food and clothing for the morning, and then taking my warm bath and shaving down one last time. After that I crawled into bed, and listened to the visualization and some of my race music. All I could hope for now was some decent weather.

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