It should first be known that I don’t have anything particularly against cheeseburgers.  I still have them from time to time and I still list ‘finding the perfect cheeseburger’ on the Interests portion of my resume.  It’s just that I don’t eat them for breakfast anymore.  You see, I am a fat person much in the same way that ‘once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic’ and cheeseburgers were once an acceptable meal anytime of the day.  Salad was what you put on the cheeseburger, but things have changed drastically since those days.  There was no such thing as ‘Healthy Options’ on restaurant menus, nor did we have ‘Blue Menu’s’ at the local superstore.  It’s doubtful that I would’ve have cared less even if there had been.

I’ve been sensitive about my weight ever since high school.  In grade school I was skinny – ‘athletic’ almost.  Back then, I even managed to win the “Male Athlete of the Year”; not necessarily because of any athletic prowess per se, but because I simply participated in absolutely everything – albeit poorly.  Volleyball, basketball, cross-country, soccer, etc.; I sucked at it all equally.  Of course, it was more of a ‘Sportsmanship’ award than anything else as I can’t ever remember winning anything particularly important or even placing in anything above dead last in any sports meet or event, but Lord knows I tried hard.

Outside of school I enjoyed swimming, baseball and badminton, all of which I fared pretty well, especially badminton, but never to any significant degree.  But then I got my first job, a paper route and, with it, a means of instant income and a rather compulsive addiction to chocolate bars and junk food so that by the time high school came around I had the definition and blood sugar level of the Michelin Man.  From that point forward it was ‘So long sports! Hello Snickers bars!’ I still played badminton with a certain amount of skill, but my only other ‘athletic’ endeavor was participating on the curling team, mostly because there was a lot of sitting in between ends.  So while everyone else was out making touchdowns, hitting dingers or sinking buckets…I was sweeping rocks, making drop shots and sitting on benches.  Not exactly the stuff that true jocks excel at.

Eating junk food was where I really shined.

Likewise, I wish I could tell you that I have fond memories of spending lots of quality time with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen learning healthy family recipes but, in actuality, I was usually too preoccupied in the living room watching Loony Tunes.

In fact, this was me each and every time dinner was called:

Truth.

I could do the basics I suppose; toast, cereal, spread peanut butter over crackers, what have you, hardly anything that one might qualify as ‘fine cuisine’.  When I was old enough to use the stove I could boil water for hot dogs or maybe some Kraft Dinner; skills that would serve me well into my adult life.  We ate well enough as a family, despite not always having the ample budget to do so – in fact, how my mother continuously fed our family of five as well as she did must have been akin to Jesus feeding the masses on five loaves of bread and two fish – it’s just that I didn’t play much of a part in the whole preparation process as I did at turning my nose up at what was placed in front of me, unless it was dessert of course.  It was the late 1970’s and my mom was in charge of the kitchen as were most mom’s of that particular generation I suspect , and Rule #1 was our getting lost to leave her to her work which suited me fine given that, mostly, I was pretty lazy.

These poor eating habits continued on when I left home to attend university where, instead of following the recommended meal plans provided by the residence cafeterias (if residence meal plans could ever be considered as ‘healthy’ that is), I gravitated to Taco Bell…every day.  I could consume my body weight in soft bean burritos if necessary.  I probably did. Despite playing badminton once or twice a week, the quantities of crappy food and beer far outweighed whatever calories I was burning off on the courts.  More often than not, I could be found at any one of the university bars on campus indulging in a liquid lunch and, maybe, a plate of fries and gravy instead of engaging in anything healthy or active.  By the time I left university I was well on my way to a severe weight problem, not to mention a liver that probably looked like a discarded sponge.  I also started to smoke pot…a lot.

I like to refer to these years as “The Fattening”.

The next few years were similarly unkind on my body.  After I graduated university I moved away to London, U.K. to work in pubs and restaurants and my diet mainly existed solely on peanut butter and kebobs.  Lord knows, the English aren’t well known for their healthy cuisine; at least they weren’t back then as this was then the pre-Jamie Oliver era.  My weekly paycheck, or what was left over after rent that is, was primarily reserved for beer and cigarettes, so fruit and vegetables were seldom ever factored in unless you consider ‘mushy peas’ or ‘chips’ a vegetable.  My daily meals were often compromised of whatever leftovers I could scrounge up in the kitchen after service.  This is no one’s fault but my own, and my managers were very nice and accommodating in allowing me to get away with this as it wasn’t really their obligation to feed me, but my priorities were all eschewed after years of poor lifestyle decisions.  By the time I returned home six years later I had ballooned out to well over 275 lbs.

Even when I returned home, this poor eating style continued and was complimented by many, many other unhealthy choices as I continued working in the local bars and restaurants.  ‘Dinner’ had become what you managed to have on your break and, maybe, something else later in the wee hours of the morning on the way home again (i.e. MacDonald’s, Burger King, or whatever else happened to still be open at 3:00am for Take-Out).  By now, this had all become learned behavior over the years; ‘cooking’ was about as alien to me as advanced nuclear physics.  Seriously, I’d have about as much luck in making a simple casserole as I would have of stumbling across the formula for cold water fusion; I was that hopeless at preparing my own meals.  If it hadn’t been either pre-prepared or pre-packaged I had absolutely no freakin’ idea what to do with it as, by that time, I had developed a full on love affair with high calorie, fatty food.  Fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet were almost unheard of and had taken on a near mythical status in my life, like unicorns and leprechauns.

Later, I managed to quit working in bars and restaurants altogether and bumped around from job to job until I ended up working in a call center.  I had excellent communication skills and, so, solving customer disputes and handling billing problems didn’t pose much thought or difficulty. It was an ‘easy paycheck’ involving next to zero physical activity or exercise. Part and parcel with this new employment, however, was my living out of the cafeteria vending machines, of which, pre-packaged microwave cheeseburgers were my favorite; breakfast, lunch or dinner, I loved those cellophane-wrapped heart attacks-to-go.

Around this same time I also discovered Jam music and music festivals.  Basically, it was an opportunity to sleep in a tent over the course of four or five days, drink a shit ton of beer, smoke a lot of grass, ingest whatever was handed to me, and all in the guise of “listening to music”.  Whatever it was, I was there to party and party I did.  If sitting outside a tent and drinking Bud Light by the can was an Olympic sport, I’d be Michael Phelps.

This continued on for a few more years before I actually started to be concerned for my health.  I did manage to quit smoking but I had just turned 30 years old, weighed approximately 320 lbs. and would break out into a sweat simply by walking to the corner store for a loaf of bread or, as in the case on this particularly fateful day, from my car to the front at work.  After years of living poorly and making unhealthy lifestyle decisions, I had turned myself into a gelatinous blob of fat with no muscle whatsoever. My personal self-esteem suffered awful, I still smoked copious amounts of marijuana a day in order to maintain my sanity in the face of it all and dating was simply impossible.  I was entering into my middle age and I felt awful most of the time and, ultimately, I grew very bitter and angry at myself and the rest of the world.  I had, quite literally, become the ‘Fat and the Furious’.

Eventually, after seeing that repugnant reflection, I made the decision that things needed to change.  I had no idea how I was going to manage this at the time but, finally, the initiative had hit me that I was going to do something…anything.  So where most people sign up for Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, or whatever fad diet program that happens to be occupying the majority of prime time air slots on the boob tube, or run out to purchase the latest, convenient, fold away, body sculpting piece of shit being hawked by some celebrity has-been…I started walking and, heaven’s forbid, eating more salad.  I still wasn’t a whiz in the kitchen, but I bought some healthy eating cook books from the local secondhand bookstore and started to bookmark basic recipes that even a chimpanzee could muster up. It was a start.

It was something.

At first I simply walked around the neighborhood for an hour or so.  There are some very unflattering photographs of me from around this period. It was amazing to me how little I really knew about the area I had lived in for the majority of my life.  Now I was discovering what lay at the end of certain side-streets, or laneways that I had never bothered to turn down before, and what pretty landscapes lay in hiding along remote walking trails and local parks.  Little by little, these neighborhood walks grew increasingly long in both duration and distance and I completed them faithfully every night after getting home from work.  I enjoyed these ambles, in the beginning anyway, and they were every bit as challenging then as some of the crazy workouts I attempt nowadays, yet I still had no invocation of ever completing a triathlon.  That notion hadn’t even begun to formulate itself in my mind yet.

I started to plan out my meals with a little more consideration as to what I was actually putting into my body.  I began to make the connection that what I ate was directly related to the quality of the workout – however basic – that I would inevitably take later on that day.  I also learned another, well, not so pleasant side effect of suddenly switching to a healthy lifestyle after nearly two decades of self-indulgence; real food makes you poop…a lot.  Who knew?  And I’m not talking about the usual evacuations I was accustomed to when eating all that high calorie, greasy food either, I’m talking about huge spires of earthly-colored crap that would make most circus elephants envious.  Every time I needed to go to the bathroom I practically had to clear my afternoon schedule.  Let it never be said that getting healthy is a beautiful thing.

After nearly a year of sticking with the plan, through good times and smelly, I wasn’t quite so repulsed with the reflection I saw in passing windows during my walks but, there was still a long way to go in my mind.  I even started dating (albeit never for very long) – which was a huge breakthrough in and of itself – just to know that someone could actually find me attractive.  I also quit smoking (click HERE) and, most exciting of all, was that I could once again see my penis in the shower without the aid of a box periscope.

I’m all about the small victories.

The time was also approaching I decided, to ratchet up the plan to the next level and included my first foray into what I considered ‘No Man’s Land’; the local gym.  Soon there would be no looking back.  I latched onto a triathlon training group known as TryForce and, well, the rest is history as lovingly detailed in the past five years worth of entries into this blog.

But why am I dredging all this up now you ask?  Well, recently, my two worlds have come crashing together with the full force of two complete solar systems.  I was just added (invited) to a Facebook page that is aimed at reconnected friends and acquaintances of mine from that long ago era of total debauchery.

It’s true we all moved on since those times and have gone on to become different people over the last 13 years or so (I’ve been since married and helping to raise a 10-year-old girl), but I’m still conflicted.  The immediate drawback is that I’m having issues seeing photos from back then that I had hoped would never ever  see the light of day again.  I know it was a different time n’ all and that I’m finally on the right past towards leading a happy and healthy lifestyle but, still, it’s a bit discomforting as it genuinely hurts to see myself again so unfit, unhealthy and unhappy. I mean, once you pass through a significant crossroads in your life, do you ever go back there to just stare down the route never taken?

Are these people I even want  back in my life?

In some cases, I built some very strong relationships during this time that I’ve been able to successfully foster and maintain over the years.  “Uncle Lance” and “Aunt Amy” make regular appearances in my Music in Motion blog and continue to play an important role in my ‘maturing’ as an adult.  In another case, Chris, we also reconnected recently and I was thrilled to discover that he has also taken on a keen interest for running as a hobby and is now on point to tackle his first Ultra-Marathon for ‘Team Healthy Kids’ and, hey, that’s some pretty inspiring shit right there folks.  What more do you need?

But other relationships, well, not so much.  Some relationships just had  to end so it’s not without a little trepidation that they all come parading back into my life now.  So while I appreciate getting to rekindle a few of these old friendships that I enjoyed back then, it all inevitably comes at the expense of those ghastly photographs resurfacing from an era when I was not on the right track; a look I don’t much ever care to ever revisit.

Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe that these are good people but, I’m not clinging to the past with the same kind of dedicated tenaciousness that some of them seem to be.  They were good times, sure, but I no longer want to be remembered for my ability to chug a can of Bud Light in 3.2 nanoseconds or be able to make sunrise for days on end before going to bed.  Definitely not the kind of adventures I want to be remembered and endeared for.

Having said that, it has lit a little more of a fire under my ass to take this training to the next step in 2016 when I’m going to step back into the Ironman arena again. Seeing these bloated photos of me have inspired me to get rid of this last lingering remnants of a beer belly and fine tune myself into the lean, mean, triathlon machine I was back in 2012, come the start of Ironman Wales. I will do this again. So if having all these old memories from my life long ago should help fuel that desire and motivate me to get back to business, then so be it.

Maybe it’ll all work out after all.

Musselman Triathlon

Posted: July 22, 2015 in Races
Tags: ,

Five years ago I completed my first Half Ironman completion in Geneva, New York.  It was the first step leading up to my ultimate goal of completing a full Ironman event which I did two years later.  However, this first step, the Musselman Triathlon, was my first experience and lesson in racing long distance triathlon.  In short, it was a total shit show.  In fact, the real (and only) value of this entire experience was in how NOT to race long.

The end result, basically, was me hobbling across the finish line completely spent with a full blown ITB in 5 hours, 56 minutes and 47 seconds; the finishing photographs from this event depict that fatigue and agony quite. This event in 2010 still represents my worst performance at this particular distance and, for that reason alone, the Musselman Triathlon has always remained on my “To Do” list for an ultimate re-do.

This year was meant to be that re-do.

I originally got talked into this race again this year (October) by the coach (although she might claim different) back in October when I still had designed of getting back into serious competitive mode this year.  Of course, I’ve since lapsed with that attitude and instead spending more time on volunteer work as well as easing myself back into enjoying a normal injury-free training routine once again. In other words – if you recall – I gave myself permission to simply say ‘No!’  this year (click HERE).  Of course, I did drop the cash for this race back in October so, yeah, I still had this as well as one other race in August to contend with.

My only real goal then for the Musselman this past Sunday was: do better and, preferably, not limp to the finish line.

Easy enough, right?

Anyway, as things turned out Kelly and decided to make Musselman part of a weeklong camping vacation with HRH  and the coaches daughter in tow.  So that’s six days cooped up in a trailer with three girls, two of which are 10-years of age. Sounds like a nice, relaxing getaway leading into a half ironman triathlon right?

What-eva.

What the hell was I thinking?

Truth be told though, it wasn’t all that bad.

We pulled into the Sned Family Campground in Ovid, New York early Monday evening and moved into the ‘Pondside’ trailer where we would spend the next six days together.  While there we swam in the campground pool, played a few rounds of Frisbee gold, toured a goat farm and ate some cheese, drank some beer, cooked burgers over an open fire, roasted marshmallows and took some road trips into nearby Trumansburg, Seneca Falls and even Geneva itself.  I also polished off about 90% of a David Bowie autobiography and, yes, I even slipped in a few easy morning runs and a mid-afternoon bike ride out into Amish country.  All things considered, come Sunday morning, 7:00AM, I was about as ready to go as I was ever going to be.

Race morning started early enough with a 5:00AM wake up in order to quickly pack up the car (since we would not be returning to the trailer after the race) and make the 30 minute drive into Geneva to set up our bikes in transition and get ready to race.  Of course, as inevitably happens when you’re dealing with kids, we got behind in the plan and ended up arriving on site at the Seneca State National Park a bit late and rushing to get set up in transition.  In fact, as I wheeled Lucille into transition the announcer was making the call to clear transition and make our way to the swim start.  Shit!

Here we go again.

Here we go again.

In the rush to get set up, I made the mistake of leaving all my nutrition back in the car.

Fuck.

Likewise, Kelly accidentally spilled my recovery formula all over the ground.  Double fuck.  So far, things were definitely not going according to plan and I immediately started planning out my Contingency Plan, so to speak.  I knew already that there would be Clif bars and gels on the course and I still had my bottle of E-load, so I figured I’d be alright.

In short, it was the quickest transition set up, like, ever, and within minutes I was down by the swim start so that Kelly could start the arduous process of wedging my fat ass into my wetsuit and a few minutes after that I was being corralled into our waves for the start of the 2015 Musselman Triathlon.

The good news about this is that with all this rushing around and shit I never even had so much as two seconds to even worry about the race itself. Usually, I like to mill around a bit and soak up the adrenaline, deal with my pre-race jitters and otherwise try to enjoy the pre-race atmosphere but, today, before I even really knew what was happening, it was happening, and I was at the front of the pack in my yellow swim cap on the shore of Seneca Lake waiting for the siren to sound to begin next painful few hours of my life.

And painful they were, but more on that shortly.

Swim (1.9k): 29:58

By this point the only swimming I had done in the last 9 days was my daily appearance as the “Pool Ninja” in the campground pool.  Sure I did a few “laps” at Sampson State Park beach while visiting friends two days previously, but it wasn’t anything resembling a workout.  It felt more like I was more remembering how to swim so I was a tad bit nervous come a minute or so before our wave start.

I peed.

I felt better.

Anyway, Seneca Lake is pretty shallow so I was only standing in waist high water at the starting line.  When the starting signal went off everyone just kind of shuffled forward for about a 100m or so.  Me?  I started swimming right off the bat. I heard afterwards that others had dolphin-dived out quite a ways and I suppose that would have been the smarter thing to do in hindsight but, meh, I came to swim so swim I did (stick with what you know).

Next time.

Heading out into Seneca Lake for the first part of the course it got pretty rough in the water and waves were soon crashing over our head making breathing pretty difficult at times and I had to swallow more than a few mouthfuls of water before I had reached the first turnaround point.  I remember the first time around back in 2010 that I started off at the back of the pack and ended up exchanging fists and elbows for this first part and by this point I was pretty bruised and nearing full-blown panic mode.  In fact, this was where I first experienced “swim rage” – someone else’s that is – during a race.  These days, however, my swim confidence is much better as are my overall skills and this time around I found myself at the front of a small group of triathletes about 20 seconds behind the leaders.  Judging by the slaps on my heels I knew I had a few other swimmers drafting off me but, hey, that’s okay.  That’s the nature of the sport.

Swimming comfortably and sighting well, I more or less ended up right on the first buoy to turn approximately 145⁰ towards the second buoy just outside the main channel we would be finishing in.  At least now the water wasn’t meeting us head on and I focused on getting into a good rhythm and getting my breathing back under control.  All things considered, I felt good.  I decided not to drop the hammer, per se, but to wait for the channel before trying to make any break away from my group.  For the time being I was happy with letting them draft and tag along for the ride.

As we rounded the second buoy we started encountering the slower swimmers from the wave ahead of us in pink caps.  This usually presents a few challenges in having to navigate through a bunch of people either breast-stroking, or swimming off course, etc., but today they were fairly spread apart so it was relatively easy to pick my way through them and not have to get too close.

Once we entered the channel the current was suddenly in our favor and I decided it was time to go.  Likewise, I figured I’d try to break free from some of the drafters behind me.  Now don’t get me wrong, drafting during the swim is 100% a good strategy and I had no issues with them being there but I do enjoy a challenge and I love trying to “shake” them off.  I’ve learned the easiest way to do this is so swim up on another persons feet and then veer sharply to the left or right to pass and hope the drafter gets confused and is forced to slow up and recalculate their path as I make a break for it.  So, yeah, I did this a few times with the other pink caps until I was pretty confident I was on my own again.

I rounded the third and last buoy pretty much on my own, sighted the finish a ways up the channel and pushed for the end trying to pass as many as I could en route.  At this exact moment I had a “feeling” like I was being “watched”.  Now, I know I’m being watched by about a thousand spectators but this was a different kind of being watched. While I swam I peered to the channel shoreline I was now swimming along and, low and behold, there was Kelly and HRH  waving and ringing the cowbell. I offered a quick acknowledgement wave to let them know I saw them and that was all I needed to bring it home for the last 200m or so.

I checked my watch when I exited the water and, YOWSA!  28 minutes and change!

I was exuberant.

Even with the short run to the timing mat (which I didn’t exactly sprint towards), I still achieved a goal I had initially set for myself a few years ago to complete a sub 30 minute 1.9k swim.  Finally – success!  Furthermore, this represents almost a 6 minute improvement of over my 2010 swim.  Not bad, eh?  It was a while in the coming, for sure, and I was thrilled.

DSCF2901Bike (90k): 2:52:17

It was all business getting out of transition and I admit that I was pretty caught up in the moment and working to get out quickly.

Upon mounting your bike, there is a short period to get out of Seneca State Park before you turn right out onto the main road and then right again onto the long gradual climb out of the valley along Hwy 96A.

Now, there’s an interesting story here.   The last time I did this back in 2010, I felt a sharp sting on my left knee at exactly this particular point.  When I looked down I saw a very pissed off wasp angrily jabbing his hind quarters repetitively into the area just above my knee.  By the time I brushed him away he had stung me about half a dozen times and, believe me, it hurt! So it was a rather auspicious way to begin the bike leg.  Today, however, there was no wasp so I set myself to quickly grinding up the incline and out into Amish country.

For the next two-plus hours I cycled over rolling hill after rolling hill through the township of Romulus (click HERE  for the official course map).  As you can see by the elevation map (click the previous link) there was very little flat ground to really get into a groove so I made the mental decision to not hammer away as I might, knowing that it was going to be a long day in the saddle.  At some point (I think it was along the only straightaway along Hwy 414) that I heard “Fancy seeing you here” from directly behind me and there she was: the Coach.

Wow.

So let me paint you the full picture.  The Coach had started exactly 5 minutes behind me in the next swim wave, so to have caught me at this juncture fairly early on (40k or so) just goes to show you what a great athlete she is.  I could offer you here the excuse that I hadn’t done a lot of long rides yet this year as part of my training plan, that I’m not as comfortable in the saddle on my time trial bike as I have been in previous competitions (I wasn’t), my significant lack of hill training, the nutrition plan I’d just thrown to the wind or, shit, that I’d just spent 5 days in trailer with two 10-year-old girls, whatever*, they’d only just be lame excuses.  Fact of the matter was: she was killing it.

The good news for me is that I now had some recognizable motivation to pick up my pace a bit.  After all, who doesn’t like having a carrot dangled in front of them or a rabbit to chase, or whatever your preferred analogy is here.  Now to clarify, know that I have NO problem being “chicked”, but at least now I had someone to ride with like we have so many times before.

We continued to see-saw back and forth for the next 40-50k, including a bitchin’ fast decent down Odgen Rd. to Geneva Lake, more rolling hills along Hwy 89, and a sharp climb back up Swick Rd. and a rough and bumpy passage through Sampson State Park.  She’s pass me on the inclines (she clearly does a lot more hills than I do) and I’d zoom past her on the descents (inertia is the fat man’s best friend, after all).

Somewhere along E. Lake Rd. (about the 70-75k mark) my legs suddenly started to feel alive.  I have no idea why but they suddenly felt stronger so I dropped the hammer figuring I’d try and make up a little of time that I had apparently lost at the beginning riding like Mary Poppins.  This was easily my favorite part of an already very scenic course.  E. Lake Rd. is a rolling span of roadway through beautiful cottage country and there were a lot of cowbells to keep you motivated and going.  As further inspiration, I started to reel in a lot of the riders that had passed me in the early and mid stages and I used that as my motivation to hammer out the last few kilometers, especially the long decline back down Hwy 96A and back into Seneca State Park with an overall time of 2 hours, 52 minutes and 17 seconds.

What this whole thing equates to is- exactly – a 17 second improvement.

Whoopee fucking shit.

Okay, so maybe I have to work on my bike prowess some more.

Regardless, I was happy to be off the bike and after a quick pit stop at the “Stink Closet” in transition I swopped out my cycling cleats for running shoes, tucked a photo of mom and dad into my tri-suit and exited out onto the run course right behind the Coach who had rolled in a minute or two after me (2:50:11).

Run (21.1k): 2:16:39

Only 2 seconds separated me and the Coach out into the run course and I was happy to just sit on her heels and let me pace me.  I had no aspirations to blow past her.  She would later confide that she was waiting for me pass her but in all honesty, it was simply not going to happen.  She rocked her run too.

Anyway, when we went out on the bike course it was overcast and windy.  Now – lucky us – the clouds had parted and the noon sun was beating directly down and the humidity level had increased significantly given that we were right along the shoreline Seneca Lake through Lakefront Park.  Not my ideal kind of running conditions let me tell you.  In fact, I haven’t experienced this kind of heat and humidity in a race since the Cancun 70.3 back in 2011 if that gives you any idea what kind of suck (i.e. I actually hallucinated) was currently suffering through.  Except there, I did much better (2:01:37).

Yeah.

I did my best to stick to her heels for the first 2-3k or so or, or at least until we got to the first serious climb up to Lochland Rd..  And, believe me, this climb was up…like, waaaaay up.  I took one look at the Coach forging her way up the hill into the distance and I thought to myself, “fuck that”…and stopped to walk.

I was dying anyway.

The rest of the run was more like a shuffle, walk, shuffle, walk, shuffle, walk kind of deal through more god forsaken hills than should ever be considered by our sweet merciful society.  It was like being on the Bataan Death March, especially the long climb up Barracks Rd., which was more like a gravel cow path than it was a road.  At top there was group of hippies doing a drum circle.  Awesome.  Now I had a gradual, drawn out drum cadence with which to painfully I march to my death. Sure there were times after sipping on flat Coke at one of the aid stations that I felt somewhat reinvigorated but it wasn’t long before the oppressive heat and humidity ground me back down again.  It was awful and judging by the expressions on other runners faces, I wasn’t the only one having a hard time.

The good thing is that the crowd support was awesome along the course and the volunteers did an amazing job feeding me cold water, sponges, Coke and offering to spray me down with garden hoses if I was so inclined.  They were also very positive and supportive despite my obviously ‘sucktastic’ disposition.  My left Achilles tendon had begun to ache on the multiple inclines and my right ITB had started to give me issues on the declines.  In short, I was in agony.

Definitely not a good day at the office.

All in all, this was a total repeat of my run experience in 2010; an experience I wasn’t very excited to repeat I might add.  I did my best to find something of a pace in the last kilometer or so, just like I had in 2010 with the only difference being that I wasn’t completely hobbling this time; physically anyway.  I invited HRH  to finish with me and together we crossed the line with an overall run time of 2 hours, 16 minutes and 39 seconds. As shitty as it was, it was still 15 minutes better than 2010 so I’ll take that a victory, lame as it is.

When I got to the finish line, I admit, I felt a little wobbly when I first stopped and I had to be caught by the volunteers.  Not a proud moment for sure.  With a few Gatorades, a brief sit down and a well deserved ice cream cone shortly afterwards, I started to feel somewhat normal again.

Oh, all that, and one gi-normous Coke fart.

To summarize, my over all time was 5:44:36, was an over all improvement of 12 minutes (and 1 second) over my first crack at the Musselman bat in 2010.  And I’m 5 years older too I might also mention.

Booyah, bitches!

If my only goal was to better my first performance then, mission achieved.  However, I also know that I wasn’t performing to what I believe to be my full potential yet either so, yeah, there just might  just be another re-do at the Musselman in the future.

*And, believe me, I spent lots of time dwelling on these “potential” excuses.

Fuck That: A Guided Meditation

Posted: July 21, 2015 in In Transition, Yoga
Tags:

You might remember that I once attempted to dabble in meditation (click HERE  for a little reminder).  I was kind of an experiment to see if any benefits could really be gained from it.

Long story short:  I failed.

Miserably.

My times didn’t improve (or get worse for that matter) and my workouts were no less difficult.  Oh well.  Nothing venured; nothing gained, right?  I’m just not the hippie “love and light” kinda guy I guess.  Now, I still use positive visualization from time-to-time (in fact, there’s a great post forth-coming on this very topic, hopefully, in the near future) during my training and competitions but when it comes to just relaxing and clearing my mind, well, not so much.  I just can’t disconnect that way.

Even during my regular yoga practice a few years back, I couldn’t stand all that “breathe in peace and light”  bullshit.  I mean seriously, how do you breathe in light?  C’mon. Often, I’d skip shavasna all together if I felt the instructor was overly aggressive in spoon-feeding me this hocus-pocus.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the quiet 10 minutes of just laying around in quiet but don’t hassle me then with “peace and love” hooey.  Just let me lie here…quietly.  To each their own I suppose, but meditation it seemed wasn’t for me…until now.

This…THIS,  is a mediation I can get behind:

Yeah.  This could work.

Every cyclist, at some point I assume, will experience the grossness of eventually coming across roadkill.  Consider it an occupational hazard; where there is pavement, there are dead and smooshed things.

As cyclist, we learn then to keep our eyes open for these things and steer well clear of them as we would potholes, cracks in the pavement, random debris, pedestrians, idiot drivers, or anything else that might present itself as a an immediate hazard to our well-being.  Usually, when it comes to roadkill in particular we learn to spot the sights:  that rancid smell and a trail of blood and guts leading up to the ultimate carcass splayed across the tarmac.  Needless to say, we hold our breath as best we can and steer around it.

Living and training in the rural countryside roadkill is about as commonplace as, say, horseshit, of which, there is a lot.  Believe me.  I’ve seen everything from entire deer carcasses to cats to possums to squirrels to birds and just about everything in you could possibly imagine in the evolutionary chain of indigenous fauna.

So when I saw the upcoming sides of this smeared red goo in the roadway ahead of me today:

1

I immediately started “evasive action”.

Getting a little closer I thought to myself:  “hey, where is that telltale smell of dead thing cooking in the middle of the road”? 

Nada.  Nothing.

Then I thought:  “what the fuck is that”?

I mean, it looked like roadkill.  It was all red and gooey like some poor creature had been turned inside out but, still, it was…unusual.

I got a bit closer:

2

Hmm, that doesn’t look or smell like roadkill at all.

In fact, it smells rather…delicious.

Sure enough, it was not roadkill at all but a pile of red licorice lumped in the middle of Dominion Rd.  And not just any pile of red licorice, but an ENORMOUS pile of red licorice.

3The fuck?

So one has to ask themselves, how exactly  did a huge pile of licorice come to be lying in the middle of the road?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, I haven’t really announced any serious racing intentions for this year.  I do have a few commitments competition-wise, but not many.  I’m still not feeling that urge to be overly competitive and I haven’t quite found that confidence within myself to do so.  I’m getting there…but not quite.

In fact, for the first time in six years I’m opting to say ‘No’ to any serious competition.

My initial plan last year was to begin building up enough physical stamina and mental toughness to launch into full blown Ironman mode this summer but, well, last year didn’t exactly play out very well for me did it (click HERE)?  No, I ended up pretty much sidelined with injuries as a walking bag of cortisol as the result of a very unstructured, haphazard and thoroughly inadequate training plan.  It was more about pain and suffering than it had anything to do with building strength and endurance.  I’m not saying there weren’t some successes along the way but in general, I performed well below what I know to be my personal potential.

As a result, I’ve focused this past off season on regaining that physical and mental health and I am just now beginning to be capable of more challenging workouts; specifically in regards to my running.  I now complete one speed interval run per week (which was the staple of my Ironman training back in 2012) and I just completed my first half marathon distance run in three months this past weekend.  It was slow, painful, and about as much fun as having red ants poured down your pants but, hey, after months of dealing with Morton’s Neuroma issues in my right foot I got ‘er done.  It’s not perfect (my foot or the run, take your pick), but it’s getting better day after day.

I still do have some events in mind for the summer that I committed to early on before I really thought about it, including a return to the Musselman Half Ironman triathlon in Geneva, NY next month and an Olympic distance race in Rochester, NY in August.  I initially signed up for Musselman at the urging of my coach back in January/February and while I’m excited to participate, my lack of “race-ready” preparations have been extremely inadequate at best.  Where I usually like to have one or two short distance triathlons under my belt (on average, I’ve been competing in 4-5 triathlons per year since 2009) before anything major as a means of honing my race transitions and fueling strategy, this event is going to my first triathlon of the season; not to mention my first long distance brick run since the Incredoubleman Triathlon back in September – and you all remember how that turned out.

Muddying the waters even more, is that the Musselman was my first half iron distance race, like, ever and it did not go so well.  It pretty much ended with me limping across the finish line with a blown ITB in an abysmal 5:56:47.  It was pretty much how NOT to do a triathlon and that experience allowed me to refocus and regroup the following year leading into a successful performance at the Cancun 70.3 the following year and, ultimately Ironman Wales the next.  It was always my intent to return to this course and conquer it successfully as I would have liked to have done back in 2010 so when the Coach made the suggestion I was all in.

Today, I’m kind of regretting that decision.  Not because I think I’m woefully unprepared (and I might just be) but because I’m actually enjoying not being in a competitive mode for a change. I’m actually beginning to enjoy training again (okay, maybe not the long runs so much) but I’m not enjoying the feeling of having to stick to a strict training schedule.  Making matters even more complicated is that I’ve also committed to other projects that are near and dear to me such as volunteering more regularly with the SunRype Tri-KiDs Triathlon series, completing my annual Frank & Friends 10k Swim for Strong Kids this past April, leading a weekly Monday Night Master’s spin class at the YMCA (not to mention a “Family Cycle” class in the Fall/Winter) and, of course, being the “Tail End Charlie” for the anual The Big Move this coming September.  I also have some fun things on the docket like the La Bico Classica 100k charity fun ride on my dad’s old road bike that I am having restored (story to come) and, hopefully, making good on the Toronto Island Swim that I missed out on last year.   So it’s not like I’m totally ‘slothing out’ and just doing nothing. I’m busy, I’m active and – for a change – I’m having fun.

I’m just not ready to actually compete yet.

So what’s the difference?

Well, while I support everyone’s reasons for doing what they do when it comes to being active and racing and whatnot, including just having fun, I don’t like to do anything half ass.  If I’m going to compete I want to be able to give it 100%.  Just finishing or making it to the finishing line does not motivate me like it used to when I first started out on this whole triathlon crazy train.  I’ve spent 6 years now working on my inadequacies and getting proficient in the sport and now that I feel like I’ve acquired some decent skill and experience, I tend to get disappointed when I’m not able to perform to that full potential and it can be very defeating when I don’t.  So, aside from the two events I’ve already signed up for earlier this year on a whim, I’ve chosen to say ‘No’ to competing in anymore.

Now, I realize how incredibly arrogant this might sound to some but I’ve come to learn about myself that I’m a competitive person and driven to achieve results.  It’s just the way I’m wired. I see all my other friends and training peers currently accomplishing great things and setting new KOM’s on Strava and it kind of makes me feel a bit behind the eight ball.  Shit, two of my friends completed a 50k trail run this past weekend…how incredibly amazing is that?  I know I’ll get this confidence back eventually but, for the time being, I’m liking training for the sole purpose of training…for nothing in particular.  I’m enjoying the absence of a detailed schedule plan and not having the pressure to perform when it falls by the wayside because of business travel, family obligations, volunteering opportunities or just because I feel like a lazy shit.

Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Usually I would just try to persevere and carry on carrying on as I did last year, but now I realize that that quality of extreme persistence can sometimes be our own worst enemy and last year, it ultimately did me in.  My body basically shut down and it’s taken me literally a year to get back to the point where I’m beginning to feel confident and able again.  Hell, it’s been a long road since 2012.  This whole ‘Ironfunk‘ thing is very real.  So maybe I’m still a bit gun shy or, maybe, just maybe, this whole ‘saying no’ will be the best decision I’ve ever made.  Either way, when I do decide to return to serious competition I want it to be on my terms.  Not to fuel an overriding desire to simply suffer for the sake of suffering.  I’m so done with that.

So, race fans, where you can still expect posts to this blog in the coming months about events I’ve chosen to participate in, know now that there aren’t likely going to be any new ‘Personal Bests’ or crazy “tough guy” challenges.

I’m still training.  I’m still improving.  I haven’t given up.

I’m just finally exercising my right to say: ‘fuck it, not this year’.

I love where I live.

There’s a nice ebb and flow to it in that it’s busier and more lively in the summer season and then quiet and peaceful again during the winter months.  After my long run this morning I can definitely say without any uncertainly whatsoever, that we are definitely ebbing.

Gawd.

Is it October already?

Seriously?

You see, I live in Ridgeway, Ontario and I feel very fortunate to be able to train here.  There is ample room to roam on my bike and enough country roads to keep my running route options plentiful.  There is a nicely paved ‘Friendship Trail’ that runs the entire span from Port Colborne to Fort Erie and then the Niagara Parkway itself, one of the most scenic roadways anywhere, which follows the Niagara River past Niagara Falls and then along the Niagara Gorge all the way into the historic townships of Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Other times I can ride to Port Colborne along the trail and then follow Lakeshore Rd., through cottage country all along the edge of Lake Erie through Long Beach, Low Banks and Rock Point.  For the 50 or so kilometers between Port Colborne to Dunnville it’ all beaches, embankments and huge spinning windmills – it’s awesome! It’s just too bad there are too many drunken boaters otherwise there would be lots of good swimming opportunities as well.  So I have it pretty good if I do say so myself (and I do).

Ridgeway stands alongside Crystal Beach on its eastern side; a single street (Ridge Rd.) separates the two.  I literally can run an entire marathon distance completely contained within, say, a 2 kilometer square area between Erie Rd. in the south and Michener in the north, and between Gorham Rd. on the east and Schooley on the west; the very heart and epic center of Canadian cottage country.  Think endless streets and lane ways all lined with quaint beach homes and outdoor patios – each one of which will inevitably have a BBQ.  Ridgeway itself has its own elaborate network of sleepy streets and neighborhoods that spread out between Highway 3 and Thunder Bay Rd. which runs along the lake.  There there’s MacDonald Drive that picks up after Thunder Bay and twists and winds along the Erie lakeshore past vast private properties, meticulously manicured lawns and more tennis courts than you could shake a racquet at.  So, yeah, there’s a lot of space and I know pretty much all of it by this point.  Shit, I could run some of my more popular running routes blindfolded.  Once you get out Ridgeway a little further to the north it’s out and into proper southern Ontario farmland; cows; horses; sheep; and bees…lots and lots of apiaries.

There is also a lot of history in this area (click HERE for a small sample from of my favorite running routes) as well and for all directions there’s practically an unlimited number of cool old rickety barns, school houses, farms, historical brick manors, stone silos and abandoned and dilapidated stone walls.

Another feature to the area is that it is practically pancake flat.  I’m not sure where the “ridge” is that Ridgeway is officially named after, but it can’t be much of a drop.  Sure, we have some rolling hills and little incline that rises off the lake but, really, it’s pretty much flat ground.  This is good if you’re not a particular fan of hilly workouts meaning that if you’re serious you have to take matters into your own hands (click HERE).  But, hey, you can’t have everything I guess.  I still think of this as a good thing though.

When you talk about ebb and flow, you typically begin with the ebb.  Well, I’m going to buck popular convention and start with the flow instead.

Beach season begins to wind down in October when the water starts to cool a bit more and the days get shorter.  It’s still incredibly beautiful in the area with the changing autumn colors, but nobody goes to the beach to look at the trees am I right?  By November, 70% of the cottages in the Crystal Beach area are boarded up shut.  The traffic begins to wind down, restaurants shorten their hours or close up altogether, and the prices return to normal at the local grocers.  By December, its eerie quiet and the locals get to return to their favorite café’s and haunts.  Suddenly everybody is doing the speed limit again. On some days I can run down the middle of Ridge Road through town and not have to worry about traffic.  I can run through Crystal Beach and not see a single person; in fact, it’s uncommon if I ever do.

But after a while all this quiet gets kind of lonely, ya know?  You can only run so many country roads in the middle of winter through polar vortex temperatures and 3″ snow drifts before you begin to think to yourself, “Hey, this kinda sucks.  I wish there was more people around”.

Queue the ebb.

On Memorial Day (May 25th), the day I will forever recognize as the official opening of “The Season”, every street in almost every neighborhood will play host to dozens of bonfires and backyard parties, the like of which even Nero himself would be ashamed to attend.  Suddenly I don’t have the place to myself anymore as the place literally goes ape shit.

Yes, The tourists are back en force.  They begin rolling in on weekends through April and early May to open up their summer homes and cottages for the season.  Suddenly, you can’t get a parking spot outside your favorite breakfast nook for all the out of town license place; much less a seat inside.  The traffic returns with a vengeance and suddenly everybody is in just a little bit more of a hurry to get everywhere and, consequentially, a little less willing to move over and give some safe distance to the runner on the side of the road as they pass; there is definitely a lot more raised index fingers than waving hands.

Signals?  Who needs ‘em?

And then there’s all the rental scooters and e-bikes to contend with and everyone suddenly feels obliged to occupy what few bike lanes we actually have. Just heading out of town on your bike and you’ll inevitably end up sprinting with some douche canoe on a mobility scooter who thinks he can make the next right hand turn before you get there.  And then there’s the moolyak who’s more focused on searching out “Beach” on his GPS while driving and just about runs you over as you try to attempt to navigate a busy intersection safely.  It never stops.

I once had a tourist pull his car over into the driveway directly ahead of me completely blocking my way. He wanted to know where the lake was.  Are you shitting me?  My heart is about to explode, I’m leaking from every pour in this God forsaken heat and you stop me to ask directions?  I just told him to keep driving south until his ankles got wet.

I don’t simply run/bike the first 10-15 minutes (depending on which I choose to go) of my workouts anymore just to get out of town and into the countryside, away from the steady congestion of rude ass tourists; I am running/riding for my life.  Tempers will flare and I have been known to pitch the “double finger salute” in inattentive tourist’s rearview windows.  Inevitably I also have to spend this time getting out of town to the chants of “Run Forest Run!”, or the ever popular “Run Fatboy Run!”  tossed out by the odd drunken beach goer driving past in a Jeep, who resembles some reject from the cast of ‘Entourage’.

Try much, buddy?

Mostly it’s the looks they give me.  I could be running down Erie Rd. past all the public beaches (one of my usual routes out of town) and people will look at me in complete bewilderment, as if thinking to themselves: “what the fuck is that?”   You’d think they’d never seen a runner before.  I get that I’m not all that attractive at the best of times and I’m sure I’m quite the spectacle when I’m an absolute hot and nasty mess and there’s about an inch of bug carcasses stuck to my sweaty skin and matted into my arm and leg hair but, still, those looks can hurt.

I like to pretend that they’re just 100% mesmerized at just having witnessed some incredibly sturdy and impressive go by, as if Godzilla had successfully mated with a Panzer tank and it was jogging past at just that very second.

Of course, I know whats really going through their minds: “Eww”.

People – tourists – are absolutely everywhere.  As I ran by the only local grocer in town on my long run today I couldn’t help but notice that the parking lot now had 3 Mercedes, 2 Humvee’s and a Porche; just the kind of rugged vehicles necessary for rural life.  There was a lady standing at her car complaining to her Rico Suave boyfriend that they didn’t have any cold vitamin water inside.

Gawd x 2.

It’s like in that vampire movie ’30 Days of Night’, only the tourists are the vampires who have come to prey on the unsuspecting locals, except during the daytime where they run rampant through the streets devouring everything and anybody in their path while we locals hide under buildings and front porches waiting for them to leave.  Come June (i.e. now) it’s kind of annoying but livable, by July I’m hitting the brink of insanity and by August I don’t even want to leave the house.  If I make it through to late September I consider it a good training season.

I rest.

I recover.

I can begin returning to the local restaurants and cafes.

I get anxious for the inevitable flow of people back out of Ridgeway and for the peace and quiet of the winter months to arrive again and rescue us all; when I can run and roam pretty much unchallenged through my rural paradise once again.  That’s where my head space was today anyway, as a steady stream of tourists narrowly zoomed by me by the side of the road with merely inches to spare.

I’m glad you’re all back, but fucking move over already!

So while my social self is happy that life has once again returned to the area, the triathlete in me is already counting down the months until I can have my community back with which to train again normally…safely.  Only three more months to go.

Such is life and training in Ridgeway.

(Disclaimer: This was written purely out of sarcasm.  I have no ill feelings towards anyone referred to or mentioned in this post, especially Kyle.  I’m just taking some “creative liberties” here for the sake of telling of what I hope is a pretty funny story.  As least that’s how I’m choosing to see it anyway).

My training is pretty routine now, as it is for most triathletes I guess; eat, shit, hydrate, train, recover, repeat.  On designated swim days I’m typically up three minutes before my alarm at 5:17am to make it to the pool for 6:25am to wage Mortal Combat with all the old fogies over who gets into what lane.  Sometimes I win out and get the fast lane, other times I’m stuck in No Man’s Land doing kicking drills with the floating log with arms.   But what can you do?

I have mentioned before to the pool staff my sentiments about rearranging the swim lanes to be more accessible by moving the slow lanes to the outside of the pool and the faster lanes to the center, but these suggestions have typically been received with nothing more than a yawn and a blank, bleary-eyed look that tells me “yeah, yeah, I hear you dude, but it’s 6:30am in the morning and I’m stuck here watching old people swim for minimum wage – so I don’t really care about your piddley ass pool problems, mkay?”

Okay, fine.  Mortal Combat it is.  And so it has been for about the past two years that I have been training at my YMCA.

Luckily for me, with a little patience, eventually all the old folks (especially the three graying grizzly bears in Speedo’s who insist on doing their “dead man’s formation” in the fast lane come hell or high water) bail after about 20 to 30 minutes to go about their normal days of tending the weeds in the garden, tinkering in the garage or sipping tea in their backyard gazebo, or whatever is it that retiree’s do to pass their days besides bobbing in the fast lane, so I typically will do my drills in the slow lane until then before I switch to a faster lane and get on with my main set.   Rarely does the 90 minutes or so pass by with me ever having to say a anything to anyone, much less the lifeguard; except that all changed a few weeks ago.

One day I was going about my usual routine and was just moving into a faster lane when another guy entered the pool area, a sleek-looking, V-shaped bullet of a guy in a pair of Triathlon Canada Speedo’s.  He proceeded to get in the lane with me (quite properly I might add) and, quite literally, proceeded to swim circles around me.  Dude was fast!  I tried to hold pace with him and I could for, say, 100-200m or so, but then I had to let him go before my heart exploded inside my chest. By comparison, he was just cruising…easily.

At first I was like, “The fuck! Who is this guy?”

While he was vaguely familiar to me, I was more concerned with my suddenly being punk in my own pool.  Suddenly I wasn’t the “fast guy” any more and my ego had taken a bit of a hit; I confess.  So for the remainder of the workout he lapped me over and over and over again and despite my attempts to keep up, or rival him in either speed or form, I basically ended up looking like a retarded and dying sea lion.  Oh well.

It wasn’t until later on when it was announced to me at the front desk that the speedy, skinny guy was in fact, Kyle Jones, an up-and-coming Canadian Olympic triathlete on the ITU World Triathlon Series circuit and our next big Olympic hopeful.

“Did you see that guy? That’s Kyle Jones”, the girl explained excitedly.

Huh.

What’ya know?

“Yeah, he kicked my ass alright”.

I then remembered that’s why he seemed so familiar to me as I have seen him several times in my monthly Triathlon Canada magazines.

“He’s training for the Pan Am Games you know”, she continued.

“Excellent.”

Now it beats me why he suddenly ended up swimming in our little community pool out here in the middle of BF Idaho, but there he was – large and in charge.  Apparently, he is in the process of recovering after a crash in New Zealand and the subsequent surgery afterwards and all the while preparing for the Pan American Games that are being held at the end of this month in Toronto, Ontario. Cool, right?  I’m swimming with one of Canada’s best triathletes! I even forgave myself a little for looking like such a slow ass chump alongside him.  After all, the guy is an Olympian!

Shortly afterwards, as I was walking out to the parking lot with him (coincidentally, I swear!), he mentioned how odd it was that the pool was arranged with the fast lanes on the outside edges of the pool and the slow lanes on the inside, opposite of what you’d typically expect in most other pools that offer similar lane swims.  I agreed quickly and related my frustrations at having expressed that concern already in the past to no avail.

“Maybe I’ll mention something too”, he said casually.

“Go for it”, I encouraged.  I might have rolled my eyes a little too.

I missed the next morning’s workout, but when I returned two days later, I discovered (albeit happily) that the lanes had been rearranged with the fast lanes in the middle and the slow lanes on the outside to provide easier access for the slower swimmers to their appropriated lanes – just as I had described.

The fuck?

The lifeguard was still quietly dozing, or mediating, or whatever it is she does quietly in the corner by herself and all the usual fogies are jumping into their usual lanes, be it fast or not, and we all commence with our Mortal Combat.  Except this time, the fast lane that I normally gave up to the grizzly bears was now appropriately designated as the slow lane and my slow lane was now actually the fast lane.  Score.

Booyah, the system works bitches!

Later, when Kyle walked on deck for his own workout I expressed my pleasure at finally having the pool organized more logically as we had discussed.  I had taken this whole lane switcheroo business as a major victory in my two year quest to bring both rhyme and reason to community pools everywhere.  Surely he, a fellow swimmer, could understand the magnitude of my accomplishment.

“Yeah, I mentioned something too”, he said flatly.

“Like, yesterday?” I stammered.

“Yeah”, he replied.

I swear, I just about shit in the pool then and there.

You mean after nearly two years of bitching and nobody gives a rat’s ass, but suddenly one bona fide athlete shows up and it’s “hold up, we got this shit all wrong!” , and the entire pool is instantly reorganized?

Really?

But whatever, progress is progress and I’m happy it finally got sorted out.  I’d like to think that I still played some minor role in all.  Sure I’m a little bitter that you apparently have to be a cute Olympian for anyone to take you seriously but, hey, it got done.

So for the past few weeks I’ve been enjoying the sweet life of being able to finally swim in the fast lane, except (interpret that as:  every day) whenever a slower swimmer happens to jump in the lane unaware of the newly designated lanes – not that the lifeguard cares mind you – and it’s Mortal Combat all over again.

C’est la vie.

But the big slap in the puss came only this morning.

There I was, waging my usual Mortal Combat with a breast-stroking grandma and the log with arms in the appropriated fast lane and it was pretty much business as usual.   Soon they both had to leave and I could proceed with the rest of my workout.  About 45 minutes later and Kyle shows up just as I’m warming down and swimming easy in my fast lane.  There is at least one person in every lane at this point except the medium lane; the next best thing to having the pool (or a lane) to yourself.

When I stop at the end the first thing I heard echoing from the opposite side of the pool is:

“Hi Kyle!”

Awesome.

I’ve been swimming here for years and I’m lucky to get yawned at in the morning and here the lifeguard is already on a first name basis with the new guy.

Figures!

But then she takes it a step further and says: “should I get that guy to move over into another lane?”

Like, out loud…so the whole  world could hear.  It actually echoed around the pool and I’m pretty sure it was heard in, like, Madagascar.  Surely she’s shitting me, right?  Or maybe she’s talking about somebody else?

I looked around hopefully…

Nope.

She definitely meant me; the fat, slow guy obstructing the fast lane.

I was mortified.

I definitely think I shat a little in the water.

Now, to Kyle’s credit, he motioned back to her shyly that everything was just fine and he jumped in the available lane and bid me a jaunty good morning just as I was leaving and everything was just hunky dory but, the lifeguard?

She can bite me.

She doesn’t give a flying fig newton when the old fogies do their breast-stroking down the middle of the fast lane while I’m trying to do intervals, but suddenly when the OLYMPIAN  shows up, it’s “Hey, fat guy! Get out of the pool! The real swimmer is here.”

Uh huh.

I see how it is.