I have been writing this post for five days straight in my head, from the moment I was dropped at the airport by Andy and the kids on Thursday night, as I moved about the scenic and charming city that is Orlando (cough) the last few days, as I raced on Sunday morning, and as I made my way home again last night, flying north on JetBlue in all of my un-showered, sweat-stained, stinky, body-marked glory. If I told all that is worthy of report, and there are some really good, funny moments to convey, this post would be too long to hold your interest. It's a shame. There are so many, many good tidbits.
I will start at the beginning, not of this trip, but of me. (See what I mean? This could be long.)
I am directionally challenged. This has been established in earlier posts and it is well known for all who know me well, and even those who know me only sort of well (think driving in Tucson, right Cheryl?). However, this weekend really revealed me for my true, God-Given directionally challenged self. In short, I'm exhausted from trying to recover myself from getting lost, disoriented, confused, and off course.
You see, it requires great energy to be programmed on high alert, knowing I am always just a turn away from being lost (figuratively and logistically). It takes even greater energy to deal with myself when I find myself lost despite this high alert vigilance, and it takes the most energy and greatest mental fortitude of all to overcome the sheer stress of righting myself once I have fallen into the abyss of being lost.
Those of you who don't suffer from this ailment don't know what you're missing. An otherwise competent woman can be taken down and humiliated when afflicted with this disorder. Trust me. I have been humiliated by it, exhausted by it, and traumatized by it my whole life.
I don't like traveling alone. You can imagine why. There are many things that can go wrong when you are directionally challenged and traveling. You need to find, in order: the right terminal, the right ticket counter, the right surveillance check, the right gate. You must find the right baggage claim, the right car rental, the right car, the right way out of the airport, the right way to the hotel.
Anyway, though I dislike traveling alone because it causes me break out in hives I get so anxious, I did travel alone for this trip. Ange's flight was delayed (I was scheduled to arrive after her), so I was relieved that she would be late enough flying into Orlando to catch a ride to the hotel with me, however. That was a HUGE relief. I wasn't looking forward to negativing Orlando alone, in a new car, for the first time, at night. Of course, it took me a huge amount of time to find her in the airport....but when we finally found each other, and we finally found the right EZ car rental (there are two in the same airport. Long story. It took a long time). After we finally found our way to the bottom floor of car rental, or the top, I can't remember which, and after we had found our little navy minivan, and after we had found our way out of the airport, and through the toll booth, and onto the highway and then to the strip, and then to the hotel... After all of that, I was exhausted.
I was also happy. What fun! I was with Ange! And I was here to race!
The next few days were spent getting to know Orlando, especially the roads leading into Disney and the lovely Disney parking lots. The Disney parking lots are long expenses of asphalt that all look the same and are seemingly endless. They are controlled by men outfitted in bright yellow pants and bold, white and yellow striped shirts, white bucks and bowling hats--courtesy of Disney, of course. I felt pity for these parking lot attendants. It just seemed bad enough that they have to spend their days in the baking heat of central Florida, pacing asphalt and dealing with sunburned tourists who yearn to meet Mickey. Adding a ridiculous, scratchy, I am like Tweedledum outfit to this lot (no pun intended) just seems so awful and unfair to me.
Anyway, the parking attendants in their ridiculous outfits were kind to me when I was in the car and also on the bike, lost and hopeless, trying but failing to escape the maze of parking lots so I could be free, and just ride.
On Thursday and Friday I got in a few short short easy easy workouts on the bike and run, I registered for the race, cruised through the Ironman store and bought a cute pink IM cap, and met a few people. I didn't swim because no one was allowed in the race at all, no exceptions. The rumor is that we were not allowed to swim because of gators and water moccasins. I think it may have just been the boats speeding around on the lake, though. Anyway, I also retrieved my bike From TriBike, and then proceeded to hang there for quite a bit of time both days. I liked the guys that worked there who were young, nice and even kinda cute. Also, I met four of my teammates from TriBike there--Keish, Jennifer, Kyle, and Andrew. Great people. Also kinda crazy people. What kind of crazy? Race crazy....
George's season: Ford Ironman Lake Placid, Ford Ironman Louisvlle, Steelhead 70.3, Rev 3 Cedar Point, Ford Ironman Arizona, Rohto Ironman Florida 70.3.
Keish's season: Ford Ironman St. George, Rohto Ironman Florida 70.3, Rohto Ironman Hawaii 70.3, Vineman 70.3, Ford Ironman Louisville, USAT Age Group Nationals, Ford IMWC-Kona, Foster Grant IMWC 70.3, Ford Ironman Arizona, Ironman Asia-Pacific 70.3.
Kyle's season: P.F. Changs RnR Marathon, Kaiser Half Marathon, Rohto Ironman CA 70.3, Boston Marathon, Wildflower OLY or Escape from Alcatraz, Rohto Ironman Florida 70.3, Alcatraz Challenge Swim, Rohto Ironman Hawaii 70.3, Silicon Valley Tri, Vineman 70.3, Catfish Swim, Folsom OLY, ITU Short Course TriWorlds, Age Group Nationals, Ford IMWC Kona, Metro Silicon Valley Half Marathon, Foster Grant IMWC 70.3.
Jesus! And I thought I was a crazy bad ass! Jennifer's season is much like mine: a few halves, an IM, a marathon, some shorter races, and hopefully a trip to a world championship. Anyway, my teammates were awesome. Very fun to hang with. I also met some new friends, Nancy and Carolyn. They are both very hip and pretty, so at first I was intimidated. But not now. They are very real and good and fun people. And they swear, not as much as me, but they swear, so they are definitely okay in my book. I met them while hanging at Tribike. They are Bostonians, and hopefully we will get to ride together a bit up here.
At night I ate out with Ange and we chatted and laughed. That was possibly the best part of my trip.
Okay, enough pre-race blather.
The alarm went off at 3:12 a.m. That is too early for anyone to be up. I tried not to be too loud while preparing to leave, but of course Ange woke anyway. I ate my pre-race stuff--smoothie, bagel, pb, a few raisins, and then Ange and I said our good-byes and I was on my way. The night before Ange and I had scouted out a 7/11 that was open 24 hours. Coffee is a pre-race necessity. Actually, coffee is a pre-anything necessity. As I entered the 7/11 I noted there was a party still going on at the motel next door. Drunken party goers swayed to music and laughed. Nothing like night meeting day.... Anyway, Ange had told the 7/11 clerk I was coming, and this girl promised to have a fresh pot of coffee for me. She did. What a great person. When she found out my favorite is hazelnut, she made another fresh pot, just for me. She was young, pierced, tattooed, and had spiked hair. A girl with attitude--except she had no attitude. She was so sweet she even gave me the coffee for free! Seriously. How often do you meet people like that? The coffee she made was nasty, but her kindness really made a difference in the start of my day.
Got my coffee, jumped in the little navy mini-van, noted what was clearly a prostitute getting a proposition at the party next door, took a deep breath and readied myself to drive in the dark all alone.
And then I was off to the race site.
Are you tired already? I am.
How about I finish this puppy up tomorrow?
I know you just CAN'T WAIT!
If you need me to just write the final lines of the novel, here they are:
The race was great. And not. I conquered and I was beaten. I am pleased and I am despondent.
I gave it everything I had--and with this race, I realized I am actually finally capable of doing that. It is not as easy as it sounds to give every scrap you have. But I did, and I can.
Also, I am becoming a contender. Watch out for me.