Trouble Always Comes in Tris

8 Oct

Wow y’all. I haven’t blogged in so long I forgot there was even such a thing as blogging…

Ok, that’s not true. I have the internet and haven’t been a victim of brain damage, so it is highly unlikely that I’d just up and FORGET what blogging was. (Although my new roommate did tell me a story about an indigenous tribe that lived in the woods and how if you went to visit them for extended periods of time you would just forget about everything that was more than three feet in front of your face because of the proximity of the trees and people would actually go insane in there because everythingwassocloseandWILLSOMEONEGETMEOUTOFTHESETREES?)

Ahem, anyway, as I understand it, I left y’all in a season finale cliffhanger, contemplating whether I was to die at the hands of the Westchester Triathlon. I am here to tell you that that did not happen. But it almost did!

You see, in order to participate in the Westchester Triathlon, which opens at 5am sharp at the Rye Playland in upstate NY, I had to rent:

1. A wetsuit so I could swim in the freezing Long Island Sound

2. A bike with gears so my legs wouldn’t turn into blocks of wood mid-race, and

3. An enormous SUV to haul all this shit to a hotel the night before so I could eat some pasta and go to sleep at 9pm.

Of course I saved renting the bike and the SUV for the day before the race, which pretty much any person (let alone triathlete) on earth would probably tell you is a bad idea, and the G train, which is the only reliable method of transportation to and from my new Greenpoint apartment, was nonoperational all weekend.

Long story short, it took me so long to pick up the bike that I skipped lunch (also a bad idea) and went straight back out to get the car. At 2pm, I am waiting for the G shuttle bus, staring longingly at a slice of pizza in a window across the street. At 3pm I finally get to the first train station and wait 15 minutes for a train, because it’s Sunday. Once I get on the train, it stalls underground because of a debris fire. Around 4:30pm, I finally make it to Queens, and realize I have to take another bus just 10 minutes to the airport. Only, I have to stand in the middle of a street fair full of food to wait for it. With no cash.

Then that bus is late. An HOUR AND A HALF LATE.

By the time the airport bus gets there, I am sitting on the curb, drooling on a Vietnamese tourist and cheering on the president of Ecuador, who is making the rounds of the neighborhood in a caravan. I am so tired of waiting for transportation that I’m not even sure why I’m in Queens anymore, but the president of Ecuador is here, so that has to be it.

Around 6:30, I make it to the airport, where I wait for the Budget bus, which, when it comes, is arctic with air conditioning. By now, I have run out of any extra calories I might use to keep my body temperature at a reasonable level, so I just huddle into the corner and shiver for warmth.

At 7, I make it to the Budget counter.

And the line is out the door.

At this point I’m ready to take off my shorts and run howling through the rental agency declaring my allegiance to the United States of Underpants just for some excitement (or food?), but I manage to wait until my turn without doing anything rash. Budget gives me a minivan the size of a small country.

I hate you AND your shiny windows, you van of lies. I bet those aren't even real leaves.

Which turns out to have so many buttons and automatic doors and folding seats that it takes me 25 engineering-heavy minutes to get the damn bike into it. By now, I am starving and stressed out. I find a Cliff bar in my cupboard and shove it into my mouth whole.  I just want to get on the road, eat some room service pasta in my hotel and go to sleep.

But where are the keys?

I still have the giant plastic key fob in my hand, but the place where the metal key was just a moment ago is now just a plasticine knob. The Twilight Zone theme music plays in my head. I retrace my steps back into my apartment looking for it. I press all the car buttons. I climb under the chassis. I curse the heavens. I throw things, but the key does not grow back. I begin to think that maybe I am inside a Stephen King novel, and that I will soon murder someone.

I sit in the drivers seat, almost in tears, and mash the plastic key fob into the ignition.

“Why can’t I just start it with THIS?” I cry.

And the car starts.

Because, you see, there never was a key. Apparently, behemoth minivans with hundreds of buttons start magically with the little plastic knobs of their key fobs, and I was so exhausted I hadn’t even noticed.

I drive to the hotel in Connecticut, where I eat some watery room service pasta with sausage and what may be the hardest roll on earth. I fall asleep around 11.

I arrive at the race and unpack around 5am, and am briefly concerned that I have one piece left over from my triathlon packet–which is a thing that seems to happen every time I build anything from bookcases to lego sets. It is a roundish hardware-looking appliance that I assume is used to secure the strap to your wetsuit so it won’t flap around during the swim.  “Don’t need this,” I think, and toss it back into the cavernous backseat.

I am the one that looks like a sausage.

Finally, I have set up my transition area and am waiting with my age group to run into the water. I am so excited that I think my heart might beat right out of my chest, and when they count down the seconds I actually start hopping up and down in anticipation.

Then I hit the water.

And.

I.

Can’t.

Breathe.

The water is so unexpectedly cold that I start gasping and sputtering and can barely keep my face in the water.

“Jesus Christ,  I just trained for a triathlon for five months and I am GOING TO DROWN,” I think (repeatedly). As my last thought, I murmer:  “GOODBYE CRUEL OCEAN/BUSSES/BUDGET/CAR KEYS,” as I flounder in a soup of splashing elbows and flapping wetsuits.

YOU try not to drown in that.

But then, after struggling for two or three minutes, I warm up enough to swim normally. I am saved (!) and  the rest of the race goes off without a hitch. I make it through the bike without a flat tire or my legs falling off, and I even manage to pass a few people on the run.

When I reach the finish line, people I don’t even know are cheering for me and I have a straight line of sight to the free beer table. I get to stop running soon! I am in heaven! Until I finish and get to the unlikeliest of finish line managers–a pair of 10-year-old girls.

“Here’s your finishers medal!” says one.

“Thanks!”

“Timing chip?” asks the other.

“Here you go sweetie,” I say, and hand her the rubber ankle bracelet with the bit of metal that I’ve worn throughout the race.

She scowls. “Not that. THIS,” she says, and holds up the piece of hardware I left in the car.

*gives up, drops rubber thing, makes beeline for the beer*

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