It’s healthy to be able to laugh at ourselves. In a sport such as triathlon, the opportunities are manifold. Here are five of the funniest (and perhaps embarrassing) things that have happened so far in my duathlon/triathlon experience.
Keep Going, Honey!
In my first-ever duathlon, I entered without having tried doing a brick. So the first run went quickly with a couple six-thirty miles. Then I got on the bike feeling pretty good about the race and rode like crazy for sixteen miles.
Well, you know the feeling when you’ve hit it too hard on the bike. I got off and went through transition in a daze. Then I started trying to run. Nothing there. As I turned the chute headed out to the run course, my fiancee was there to cheer me on. I must have looked a little confused or panicked at that moment. Her advice was simple. “Keep going, honey!”
Within a half mile, the feeling came back in my legs and I managed 8:00 miles for the four-mile run. But that first time feeling the fatigue was definitely a new sensation. Her advice made me laugh for the first mile. So that helped.
Oh Say Can You See?
Last year was my first planned Olympic distance triathlon. I’d done plenty of duathlons up to that moment in time, so I was excited to go up in distance for the first time. After successfully doing the practice swim the day before, I lined up all my gear in the transition area and went for a warmup. Only things felt a bit cool “down there.” But with no time to worry about the sensation, I got my warmup run done only to hear the announcers tell us the swim was delayed. That meant hanging around inside the recreation center where we all milled about chatting and stretching, even taking a nap.
Then the race took off an hour late, converted to a duathlon since the swim was canceled due to lightning. I ran really well on both the front and back of the duathlon, and biked pretty solid too.
Then we got back to the car and I changed out of my shorts and held them up to the light. Sure enough, they were my old pair of tri-shorts and were nearly worn through at the crotch, and basically see-through. Which made me realize why so many people might have been glancing away that morning.
The wait to start my first sprint triathlon was long. It was also hot. In fact, the race went from wetsuit legal to No Wetsuits Allowed. So I stood there nervously for a while encased in my neoprene and finally walked over to Sue and said, “I can do this without the wetsuit.” She replied, “I know you can.” So I stripped it off and went back to the cool sand of the beach and waited some more. I’d waited near the end of the pack and I finally said ‘Screw it’ and jumped into line and started swimming. It went well until the first buoy, where swimmers were jammed up. One woman was bobbing in one place yelling Goddamnit! Goddamnit! while smacking the water with her hands. I started laughing so hard I could not catch my breath and had to swim to the side and get started all over again.
C the Difference
Inadvisably, I signed up for the Lake Zurich Triathlon last summer despite the fact that I’d contracted a condition called C-Diff, a somewhat dire situation in which the good bacteria in the gut has died off allowing a nasty bug to take over the digestive tract. It all came about because I’d somehow (perhaps a cat scratch) gotten cellulitis in my left hand that required taking powerful antibiotics. The doctors that prescribed the bug-killing medicine did not elucidate the fact that it could also kill off the healthy gut bacteria. Within days of ending the cellulitis medicine the hand had cleared up, but my lower gut was going crazy. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was Diarrhea City for days until I took a stiff dose of anti-diarrheal medicine and things came grinding to a halt. Emboldened by this fact, I decided to race after all. Granted, I felt a bit “thin” around the edges in terms of energy, but I still placed in the Top Five in my age group. It would take weeks after that for the new regime of pro-biotics and anti-C-Diff medicine to work. But somehow I swam 400 meters, biked 16 at 20.6 mph average and ran 7:30s for my 5K. All in a day’s work. And probably really stupid. But kind of funny.
In one triathlon last summer, I was feeling really good on the bike. In fact, I averaged 22 mph on a hilly course. Toward the end of the race, I came around the bend to find my fiancee riding ahead of me on the bike. She was having an okay day and actually placed in her age group. But normally she’s an equal or better cyclist, and it surprised me to be catching her. So I rode soft pedal for about 150 yards and finally said, “Hell with it,” and picked the pace back up and went past her. “Nice going, honey!” she called out. So I was unnecessarily worried that passing her might set off some kind of relational argument. She’s just not one for drama of any sort. But I had to laugh because my mind was running through all the things I’d try to say if it did somehow make her mad or hurt her feelings. Every man knows the feeling. You don’t want to cross a strong woman but you also love her so much you’d never do anything to hurt her feelings. But forget all that. She’s a triathlete. She can handle it. Funny that I even worried about all that.
And there you have it. They all seem funny to me in retrospect? Got any funny things that have happened to you in triathlons?