Thank You, Sir. May I Have Another?

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I am a glutton for punishment.  I freely admit it.  Maybe it is a character flaw.  Maybe Freud would attribute it to everyone's innate "death wish."  Maybe it's in my genes.  Whatever the reason, I can't just leave well enough alone, but need to seek out new and interesting ways to abuse and humiliate myself.  Not long ago, I blogged about the emotional beat down doled out by my first triathlon.  Any sane person would have taken the cosmic hint - if you can't hang with 60 year old women in endurance races, maybe you should seek other avenues of entertainment.  But not me.

Last weekend, my buddy Brad and I competed in the Tribal triathlon.  Now, the name "Tribal" evokes images of primitive danger and of untamed wilderness.  As Doc Holliday (coolest dentist EVER) said in Tombstone (coolest movie ever), "That's just my game."  Of course, my wife Stephanie would respond, "Uh, no it isn't.  You'll poke your eye out."

We knew nothing about this tri going into it, other than it was close to town and would be our last chance for glory before the racing season closed.  So we went for the gusto and signed up.  This was Brad's first race of any sort, but his apprehension started to melt when we decided to rent professional road bikes.  I would not be dusting of the Schwinn for this one.  During the pre-race orientation, I said a little prayer of thanks for that decision after hearing the race director declare that this was one of the most challenging courses in the state.  "You'll use every gear on your bike" he warned us.

It started off well enough.  I made it through the 1000 meter swim and did not drown and did not finish dead last.  That, in my book, is well enough.  When I exited the water, Brad was ready with the bikes and we were both eager to make up some time, as although I didn't finish last, I certainly didn't finish first either.  We raced out of the transition area and straight up hill.  When the bike is in the lowest gear, you are standing up, and still going less than 1 mph, you know you are on a steep hill.  No worries, I kept telling myself.  What goes up must come down, and we'll have a nice downhill.  And we did.  Lots of uphills and downhills.  Eventually, we caught up to the rear of the pack.  Brad and I got separated halfway through the bike leg when I stopped to put my chain back on.

Near the end of the bike run there was a steep downhill, at the bottom of which was a turnaround, which sent us back up the hill to start the running portion of the race.  Almost home.  As I sped down the hill, I saw Brad coming up it.  Knowing that he was only five minutes or so in front of me, I decided to kick it up a notch and try to close the gap.  As I approached the bottom of the hill at maximum warp, I could see the turnaround coming up, with a Sheriff's deputy standing in front of it, directing traffic.   

What I couldn't see was the loose gravel.  It whipped my rear tire out from under me, sending me to the pavement, bouncing first on my left side, then on my head, and finally on the palms of my hands.  I ended up on my back, about 6 feet in front of my bike.  "Are you hurt?" the deputy called out.  I wanted to shout "Are you some kind of jokester?!?!  I just crashed my bike!  Of course I'm hurt!" but figured it wasn't nice to antagonize old men with guns.  So I just said "I don't know."

Surveying my numerous injuries, I thanked God that I hadn't been killed or broken any bones.  Picking the gravel out of my arm and seeing the deep and wide gash that was already causing a balloon to form on my elbow, I consoled myself that it would probably leave one bitchin' scar.  But the jammed thumb and torn up palm on my right hand meant I couldn't finish that last hill.  The bike was unridable anyway.  After keeping me seated for fifteen minutes to see if any internal injuries were going to kill me, the deputy gave me a lift to the top of the hill, and I took off running through the desert.  In my wounded state of mind, I kept praying that there were no animals following the trail of my blood, waiting to ambush and devour me.  Apparently, when you bounce on your head a few times, you start to believe that land sharks really exist.

As I emerged from the desert and saw the finish line, I was filled with dual disappointments: that I missed my goal time, and that there won't be any more races for three months.

1 Comment

A lot of what I do for "pleasure" has the tinge of self-flagellation to it. Sometimes when I'm frantically trying not to hit anything with my boat, while the wind whips me to and fro, and my lack of nautical know-how is more obvious than ever, I wonder to myself--"Why am I doing this?" "How is this different from the feeling I have at work?"

Luckily, years of recreational drug use have eliminated my short-term memory, and I soon forget what the question was.

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This page contains a single entry by Louis Core published on June 10, 2009 11:29 AM.

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