I just wrote a long post about how my child and teenhood identity was anchored in athletics. I compared and contrasted my level of athleticism now, noting the ebbs and flows of activity throughout the years. I was all but making a graph and power-point demonstration. Then I deleted it. I hate when my writing bores me. I'm also hating the NEVER-ENDING sorting out of things in my mind, on paper, via the blog. Must I be so epiphanal about every goddamn thing? Must everything be so monumental? I can say it doesn't, but that doesn't seem to keep my mind from reeling and endlessly digging for the well of optimal happiness and meaning and purpose and fulfillment and perfect being. Give me a break, mind. Just sometimes.
So, I'm training for a triathlon. A baby one or a Sprint as it's called in tri world. Why? Sparring you some of my violent introspection it's because I want to. I love all athletic-to-life metaphors and every Triumph of Spirit stories, but I'll try to keep those down. Still being able to dig deep; just the simplicity of Being Able drives me nicely now. I learned that during the marathon. The marathon stripped me down like no introspection has been able to do in a while. There was something about dusting off my strength in the solitude of the training and the race that made me feel brave. Damit, I wasn't going to get all sports-spiritual about this. I really can't help myself. But the truth is that I felt like an real athlete again. I trained and I completed. I felt overcome often, but I did it. That rawness cleared away some of this laughable need to constantly reinvent my physical self. I just was. I just did. So, I'm just gonna do a triathlon.
I'm in Week Two of training and it's been a thrill. Training moves me past the ol' I-Better-Work-Out-to-Expel-Demons level. Or the Mmm-My-Jeans-Seem-Tight level. Both of these are legitimate and very good reasons to work out, but those haven't been as exciting as training for an actual event.
Sometimes I don't feel that I'm a part of the tri experience, like I'm not in the thick of it yet. I feel I'm humbly joy riding it until I know what I'm doing more. The fumbling through the components has been mildly hilarious. Here's a initial review:
Running - I mention running first because it's my weakest event. I'm a whiner-runner. I run. I whine. Historically, I've had a million effective justifications to stop running. I justify why I should stop running during a run. I justify why I should never run again. But I'm always intrigued by and drawn back to the meditation of running. This is the event where I need the most practice. Here's the other thing I love about a triathlon, I have two other sports to concentrate on. I don't have to just run!
Biking - I'm not buying a new bike, yet. I've done a ton of research and I've decided for this first race, Loops (my bike's name) and I will make the best of it. Loops is a hand-me-down Specialized hybrid commuter bike. It was a bit rusty and dented when I got it, but I tuned it up, replaced some things and covered the frame in bumperstickers. Cool. I've taken off the rear and front baskets for training. This probably took off five pounds. I left the bell on for good measure. When I ride, I'm painfully aware that Loops ain't built for performance, but hell no can I in clear conscious invest in a pricey beauty when this first race has only a 10 mile ride. I can't do it. If I fall in love with tri's, we'll talk. I also bought my first helmet ever. I KNOW, don't start. I've never worn a helmet my whole life, and I'll just admit right now that safety is still taking a back seat in my mind to the fact that they won't let me compete in the tri without one. I KNOW I NEED ONE. I got one. I'm wearing it even if I feel like my head is a big penis with it on.
Swimming - I was a good swimmer as a kid. I was on a team though I was very mediocre in relation to the rest of the competative swimmers. My specialty was backstroke. That's probably not a wise stroke for open water swimming, just a hunch. But I did ocean swimming in high school and competed in a mile open-water race so I'm not unfamiliar with what the tri will offer. I haven't swam in a long time though. I've been nervous that after entering the water I'd stroke and kick and stay in the exact same position. I'll be fine, I think. I just need practice. I was not, however, prepared for swimsuit shopping. Trying on speedos was horrifying. Do they make a performance suit for women with HIPS? I stood in the dressing room and stared at my suited body in the mirror. I laughed out loud. Short in the torso, loose in the lats (read, boobs), up my butt, hips escaping the high leg holes, my waist was turned into a tube . . .lord have mercy. I laughed to keep from crying. Can I swim in my workout pants, I wondered? Too much drag? I'm sure my neighborhood Big 5 didn't have the most stellar selection of suits and I ended up with the best-fitting speedo I could find from the sale rack. That's another thing, $80 for a suit? Gimme a break. I considered looking for someone to sponsor me for the race -- until I thought about what I'll look like "competing" in it. I laughed again as I hunched over to peel off the swimsuit. I visualized:
I'll do a thrashing backstroke in a slim-hipped vice of a suit with no chest support that makes me look like a bloated rectangle. After veering off course, I'll revert to a dog paddle/side stroke just so I can finally get ashore. I'll run to Loops, knocked over from having no kickstand, my hips spilling and flopping out of my suit. I'll tug on a sports bra over the suit, slap on my dick-head helmet, slip on my vegan running shoes and shorts without padding. I'll hop on the dented, basket'ed bike where the frame reads things like "Treehugger." I'll ring the bell to let them know I'm coming. I'll ride too upright; sometimes I'll try to lower my head and tuck in my elbows for a more aerodynamic ride. I'll shave a few seconds off my time that way. In my front basket, I'll collect extra Gatorade. I'll reach the end of the ride and hop off Loops -- she'll crash down from the load of the back basket -- I'll rip off the helmet, unclear how to quickly unclick the strap, and as I start to run I won't be able to straighten out my legs which have been molded by the bike. I'll trot along in a strange cowboy gait. I'll whine until the finish.
Aah, yes, the resurrection of my athletic career is in full force, and looking quite glamorous.