Queering the Triathlete (and Other Discomforts)

A Melancholy Zebra determined to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Race Report: According to “The Committee”

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It has taken me a few days to get around to blogging a race report- I didn’t want to write the knee-jerk (and effectively jerk my knee into something’s metaphorical testicles) or write something put into an overly-positive perspective. And of course, I cannot simply write a race report! Blasphemy! What about the deeper meaning?!

Ergo, thus proceedeth a highfalutin and abridged recapitulation of Honu 70.3 

First off, it’s worth noting that this was my first big “race.”

This isn’t to say I haven’t done “A” Race triathlons before. I have: 3 Half-Irons and 1 full Ironman with smatterings of Olympics and Alcatraz swims and so forth in between. I even squeaked out an “All World Athlete” status last year, perhaps more because I accumulated points from two events rather than from one outstanding event. But the goal of nearly every one of those events was to finish, to survive.

The goal of this one was to race.

What the hell?

Normally, I would begin to explain what Jeff was saying the entire time, but now I do know a real person named Jeff. Awkward. And I believe there is a fine gentleman named Geoff potentially reading my blog, so I need to scrap “Jeff” as my  judgmental thoughts personified. (Again, it has always been easier to say, “Shut up, Jeff!” than: “Shut up, me!”)

So “The Committee” is born. I admit that I am stealing this shamelessly from Melissa Broder’s So Sad Today (a fantastically witty collection of essays that I recommend highly, not even having finished it yet. I wish I had written it myself.) All judgmental thoughts will now be scapegoated onto The Committee. (Yes, J. The unicorns.)

Here is what The Committee had to say about the race:

Swim: “… you better not be getting sloppy.”

Bike: “Everyone is passing you. It’s barely been 10 miles, and everyone is blowing past. What the hell is the matter with you?!” “YOU’RE BRUISING. STOP. We’re going to wreck you for that later.” “You flatted out? You didn’t even hit anything!! You better remember how to change a flat tire, or we’re going to call in the Plummer to turn on the waterworks, and then you’re really fucked.” “Yeah, you’re never going to catch that group you were riding with.”

My Confidence

T2: “That is NOT your race number, you discalculic twat. That’s not your run gear bag. Get it together, or at least look at your fucking arm tattoo!”

Run: “You suck you suck you suck you suck QUIT ROLLING YOUR ANKLES you suck you suck you suck you suck OW SHIN you suck you suck you suck you suck NOW YOU SUCK AND YOU’RE DEAF.”

And then upon seeing that I missed my PR by 5 minutes: “Yep. Told ya. You suck.”

The Committee doesn’t have a foil. It seems more prudent to consider the opposite of The Committee to be myself. I’m (working on being) supportive and positive about myself, dammit!

Swim: “And now we’re passing the slower men… adieu, good sir. And here are some of the faster men. Good, keep sighting. Stay calm. Quick turnover. You got this.” Come my friends/ Tis not to late to seek a newer world./ Push off, and sitting well in order smite/ The sounding furrows

T1: “Oh hell yes I am running through T1. No way I’m walking through this shit. A hill? Easy peasy. And lo! My bike!” for my purpose holds/ To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths/ Of all the western stars, until I die.

Runnin' that swim exit!

Runnin’ that swim exit! I’m the one in the Roka with the red cap. … there are two of us? You don’t say!

Bike: “Am I uncomfortable? Yes. Good, just what coach said. Uncomfortable but sustainable. You’ll pass many of these people in the second half. Focus. Relax. Be smart.” It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:/ It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles/ And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

T2: “Yep, run through this, too. Legs not malfunctioning. Switch shoes, switch hat, grab belt, grab gels, and let’s go! It’s just a long run. That’s all. We’ve done this before.” Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’/ We are not now that strength which on old days/ Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

Run: “…. just get to the finish, get to the finish, get to the finish, get to the finish, get to the finish, get to the finish…” Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/ To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. 

(Yes, I tend to recite those final lines of Tennyson’s “Ulysses” during races and particularly difficult training sessions. It seems to fit. I’ll head out and give what I have, and if my body disagrees, my spirit will go: BYE FELICIA and keep on.)

So, I finished 5 minutes shy of my PR, but in all fairness to me, it was 5 minutes short on a brutal course, halted by a flat tire, temporarily deaf by the end, and alone. That PR was made on one of the easier courses in the country while family cheered me on and residents lined the sidewalks on the run, spraying their garden hoses into the road so we could pass beneath them nearly every turn. I am indeed better, faster, and stronger than I was two years ago. That is incontestable.

Now I need to practice not surviving an event but racing the event.

I’ll improve physically; it’s not a mental struggle to do what my coach asks of me. What she can’t do for me, however, is shut The Committee the fuck up. That’s my job. I’ve been working on it for years, and I’ll keep working on it. *nodnod* It’s not like there’s really a choice in the matter! Taking The Committee seriously can only lead to misfortune.

“What is it like to race with EDS?”

I don’t know. What’s it like to race without it?

I’ve been blessed with a mild case. Whether it is naturally mild or my almost-constant fitness since I was 4 has helped stabilize my joints I can’t say. Some days I’m pretty fine, and other days it seems like someone took some screws out of my skeleton. Don’t even ask me about the efficacy of opiates.

I noticed it most prevalently in two places during Honu (and it differs from race to race):

  1. Bike: the geometry of my road bike is not presently set up for an aero position. Like many zebras, I get pressure bruises like mad. So needless to say, there is some seriously traumatic bruising going on. Or rather, that is some serious bruising redolent of serious trauma. (Think the Wentworth shower scene with Joan and Juice&Co, only marginally better.) Dissociating all over the place for the past couple days. Both will subside, but until then, *shudder*
  2. Run: Dem ankles. Every other time I hit the grass, I rolled off an ankle. I’ve been rolling ankles since I was tiny, so those ligaments and tendons are stretchy as fuck; I only sprained my ankle once from being dropped on it, never from rolling off it. So, that was absurd. Near the end, I could feel my hips threatening to start shifting positions, but they held, thank goodness. Poppity-pop running is just obnoxious and can’t be good for cartilage.

Overall, not too bad, if I say so myself.

Shit. It’s 2AM. I swear that I’m nocturnal.

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