Friday, October 07, 2005

The Big Day

Living in the city, I sometimes forget the meaning of the word "dark". Well, I was certainly reminded of it the day of the triathlon. We had the Fear of God instilled in us regarding parking, so I woke up at 3:30 to be in Malibu by 5:00. In the morning. And let me tell you, it was DARK. There was no sun, no moon. No street lights, no front porches with the light left on. Just DARK.

I was one of the first Disney people to arrive, so I started to set up my "Transition Area" on my own. They have these long bars to hang your bike on, and I struggled to lift up my front tire over the bar to hang it on top. A very sweet woman came up to me and asked "Is this your first time?" Was it that obvious I was a tri-virgin? She then tells me "I have a suggestion that you may want to try out if you like..." Apparently, you're only supposed to hook your handlebars on the pole, not the entire front end of your bike. Ah, that made things much easier.

You know how much your feet hurt when you walk across the hot sand? Well I kid you not, my feet actually hurt a bit because the sand was TOO COLD. That's right, it was very uncomfortable stepping out of my toasty socks on to the sand which hadn't seen sunlight in nearly 12 hours. (mmmmm.... I said sandwich...) Of course, that wasn't nearly as painful as going for a pre-swim swim in the 59-degree ocean water. I am SO glad I listened to advice of people who told me to make sure you get yourself wet and used to the water before the race began. It was a bit of a shocker, but at least by the time the triathlon began I was so numb that it didn't matter how cold the water was.

The swim itself was surprisingly uneventful. My group (Men 35-39) was the largest group of the day with 162 people. I was worried about having to fight for space with all those people around, but the group spread out pretty quickly. And I am proud to say that although I was hit and grabbed a few times in the water, I held my ground. If I wasn't fast enough for them, they could just swim around me, I wasn't going to get out of their way.

The run/jog/stagger back to the transition area was longer than I expected, so I was pretty dizzy by the time I got there and pretty much plopped down to the ground to get out of wetsuit. But it went somewhat quickly and I was off on the bike. For the first few miles, I wasn't sure what was wrong with my foot: there was this strange tingling/pressure thing going on. I thought that maybe I had a bunch of sand stuck by toes. That was the sensation. I then realized that my toes had gone numb, and what I was feeling was the circulation starting to return. I thought about stopping to warm them up, but that would ruin my time. Besides... If my toes were ready to fall off, the only thing holding them together would be my shoe, and I'd be better off waiting until I was back near medical attention to let that happen, right? My toes did not get back to normal until pretty much the end of the ride. I heard from other people who said they had the same feeling.

The run is probably the most physically exhausting part of the triathlon. One thing that helps is that it's an "out and back" course, which means that as you're running out, the people who started in earlier waves are now passing you on the way back. (and by "earlier waves" I mean people who actually started AFTER you, but are much faster and are now 10 minutes ahead of you.) For the first mile or so, it was very cool; lots of Disney people passed me and we high-fived eachother and I'd enthusiastically yell "Go Team Disney!" By mile 3 however, things were a little different. I was tired and losing energy, so as I passed people my cheers were now more of a "geh teh deh" whisper.

The final 100 yards or so were wicked awesome. The course becomes a 10-foot wide path lined with hundreds of people clapping and cheering and shouting "Go Disney!" when they saw my jersey. As far as I was concerned, I was at the Olympics. Many of them held out their hands, and I high-fived a few of them. I then started worrying: what if they were holding out their hands for someone behind me? What if they were hoping to connect with their wife/husband/cousin to give them that final boost of energy to make it to the end, and I knocked the hand out of the way? Ah, screw 'em. I'm the one out here cramping to death and if I wanna smack a hand, I'm gonna do it. There was a very strange, narrow 90 degree turn about 50 yards from the finish line which didn't wipe me out but it was close. (Brad figured out the turn is probably there to make sure the sponsor's banner appears in all the photos at the finish line. Brad is smart.)

So that was pretty much it. I thought I felt great after finishing. That was until we started walking back to the transition area. My legs were done, and I probably looked like a little old man walking through the sand. We had passes to go to the "Celebrity Brunch" but that was pretty much a bust for me. It was a 20-30 minute line for food that I couldn't eat. I'm told it was excellent, but I don't eat souffle or whatever the hell all that fancy stuff was. I wanted a box of Oreos or a Snickers bar and they just didn't deliver. I did watch Jon Cryer scarf down his food and also saw David Duchovny roaming around. I behaved myself and just let them be- I didn't think Mr. Cryer would appreciate me coming up to him and explaining how he was my nemesis.

Kind of a strange thing on the drive home... I realized that I hadn't gone shopping to fill up the fridge with lots of crap after the tri: chips, cookies, chocolate etc. And I just didn't feel like dealing with the supermarket thing: finding a parking spot, waiting in line while they do price checks, whatever. It sounds trivial but I was tired and just wanted to get home. As luck would have it, I passed by the "Canyon General Store & Grill". Perfect. It was a nice Mom & Pop Shop, I could zip in, zip out, and support the small businessman. I couldn't see the parking lot from the road, but when I pulled in I saw about 75 Harley Davidsons parked in the lot. With their riders. Great, it's a biker hangout and I'm pulling up in a car covered with "Go Disney!" posters and I'm wearing a glowing yellow bike jeresy. Somehow I didn't think they would care that I had just done a triathlon. I parked off to the side as far as I could, got out of the car and quickly ran to the trunk to get another shirt to put on. Fortunately my spandex shorts were already covered, but I did still have the bright yellow Disney bobby-socks. Oh well. I went in, got my junk food, and walked out very slowly, being sure not to make any sudden movements.