Saturday, April 9, 2011

Triathlon Merit Badge, or When The Universe Says No

In this space I have previously advocated for thoughtful reflection on the intelligence of completing training when injured, sick, mentally burned out, etc, et al.  Many time-strapped athletes would agree there is a place for similar intelligent reflection when circumstances and logistics (i.e. The Universe), despite best planning efforts, are truly, utterly, and inexplicably against you.

We can all picture - or know... - this person: "I got my forty minute run completed despite the gigantic snow storm and not owning a treadmill by doing laps around my living room furniture.  I mean, sure I had to carry my bawling newborn, pet the dog, and stir dinner cooking on the stove with each lap and wear my wetsuit because all my other clothes were dirty.  But I swear it was a quality run."

...ok...do you want a merit badge?

Does throwing more mental and physical energy, frustration, on-the-brink-of-tears moments, and money at the situation 1) make the session actually get completed and with quality and 2) really matter in the long-term calculus of your training, racing, and....life?

I explain through example: the last 30 hours of my life.

My flight to DC left at 6 am.  The security line at the Austin airport at this hour was out the door of the airport onto the sidewalk.  So after barely making it through security in time to make the on-the-plane-15-min-before-take-off cut-off, the metal detector indicated that I was to be pulled aside for a randomized in-depth search.  My left hamstring was not happy with the subsequent sprint for the plane and during the flight I used my hair gel container (the only nearly spherical thing I had) to massage out a developing trigger point...because I had a tempo run to complete later in the day and coming up lame was not ideal.

I spend my flights working on athlete schedules.

I arrive in DC, have lunch with some friends, and head to my pool for my first session of the day, stopping at Starbucks for a pick-me-up (since I had been up since 4 am) and time to complete the schedules before the wedding.

COMPUTER = DEAD [and I lost of all my coaching work from the flights]

AppleCare call center confirms COMPUTER = DEAD and adds "get thee to a local Apple store."   

Um, did you clear this particular training session with Coach because the version I received said only swim and run for today....

I take the opportunity to swim.  I board Metro to "get thee to a local Apple store."  I arrive at the Apple store...and realize I lost my wet swimsuit in the Metro.  Which is definitely not the weirdest thing I have seen lost in the Metro.

The Apple employee takes my laptop into the back and smacks it around a bit.  Or perhaps just opens up the case and unplugs the battery and some circuitry.  Either way, when they emerge together, the employee displays minimal bruising and my laptop is working again.

I use being at the mall as an opportunity to buy a new swimsuit, seeing as how I have a swim scheduled for tomorrow.  No lap swimming appropriate (read: non-string bikini) swimsuit can be found.

I head to the hotel and check-in, politely asking for the bag of wedding clothes I had packed in February and left with the bride for her to leave at the front desk.  All so I won't have to carry wedding clothes to Spain.  However, despite the bride delivering them, said wedding clothes cannot be located. 

Ok, well I'm going to be on a treadmill for the next hour, so that's where you can find me if you find the clothes I have to wear tonight and can prevent me from wearing jeans to my friend's ceremony...

Wedding clothes are located; fashion-faux-pas disaster averted.  Tempo run completed at 8:04 PM.   Evening welcome reception attended at 8:32 PM, after discovering my room doesn't have hot water.

However, while dressing in said wedding clothes, I tried to put in my earrings and realized my piercings had closed.  Now I was bleeding from the ears and had to add "re-pierce ears" to my Texas to-do list.

....commercial interruption for sleep....

Grab a taxi to a local gym because it is so early the Metro isn't running.  I'm doing back-to-back spin classes, with my own interval work between, because I have a long ride on the schedule and no bike.  Right now traveling light doesn't look - or "feel," says the undercarriage - so good.

Cross the parking lot to spend a gift certificate I have to use-or-lose from when I lived here and get some coffee.  My ardent hopes do not come true when the store doesn't have a swimsuits...

Take a $10 taxi ride to a store I know sells swimsuits, considering it is the biggest Speedo seller on the Eastern seaboard.  Buy a sale-rack swimsuit.  Take a $10 taxi ride to a pool whose hours I had checked, after worrying that the DC pool I would normally use might be closed due to the government shut-down and is far enough away I might not make it back to the hotel in time for the ceremony...

POOL = CLOSED FOR SWIM MEET

Pool employees confirm POOL = DEFINITELY CLOSED FOR SWIM MEET and add "get thee to the closest public pool to us."  Which is a $10 taxi ride back towards the swim suit store I just came from.  In fact it is a mere 5 blocks from the swim suit store I just came from.  But going to that pool leaves me in a Metro Dead Zone and a $20 tax ride from my hotel.  For a few seconds I contemplate taking a taxi to a pool in DC or swimming in the 20' x 20' pool in my hotel and then...

KELZIE = PULLING THE PLUG ON SWIMMING TODAY

The Universe confirms KELZIE = PULLING THE PLUG SWIMMING TODAY and adds "what the h*ll were you thinking trying to swim in Northern Virginia today when clearly I was not going to let you." 

I tried.  I tried and failed.  Most days that isn't good enough.  Some days it has to be.

So with only one session of two completed and armed with a tags-still-on swimsuit, a slinky dress, and spike heels, it's wedding time.


There had better be champagne.

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