If you are a single male, you missed a rare opportunity to find some hearty, woman-stock of child-bearing age at Tempe Town Lake on May 5.
More than 500 women gathered for the inaugural Esprit de She triathlon and duathlon. Depending on the race they entered, the ladies tallied up to 16 miles’ worth of swimming, biking and running … or running, biking and running … or if you’re me, swimming, biking, running and pissing people off.
Suffice it to say, these women have stamina – and after wearing themselves out (or working themselves into a lather) – they might have lowered their standards and perhaps would have been more amenable to your romantic entreaties. Or not.
Although I wasn’t amenable to (or eligible for) those romantic entreaties, I did survive the inaugural Esprit de She Triathlon in 1 hour, 55 minutes, 23 seconds with my dignity intact (more or less) along with my gangrenous toe. It was not a personal best, not by a long shot.
Two years ago, I was training to be the relay swimmer for my first triathlon in 18 years … when I stepped on a belt buckle on the floor of my closet, puncturing my heel. Fortunately for me, a torrential downpour washed a bunch of sewage into TempE.coli Town Lake turning my 1,500-meter swim into a 5K run. I was up-to-date on my tetanus shots and I didn’t have to swim in botulism. I learned that one can, in fact, run on a punctured foot. It was a win for me (and also a personal best for the 5K distance as a running relay-swimmer).
Fast forward to three weeks ago, I stepped on the same belt buckle on the same floor of my same closet, which begs the question: Why haven’t I learned to hang up my clothes after 41 years of life on this earth (plus one puncture wound)? Somewhere, Mom is shaking her head. This time, instead of cutting my heel and having to cruise on back home, I nailed the toepad between the ball of my foot and my second toe. I slathered it in Neosporin, dunked it in hydrogen peroxide, tried six-ways-to-Sunday to affix a waterproof Band-Aid to the most awkward spot imaginable… and continued with my training, which included swimming in Tempe Town Lake.
On Saturday – that would be the day before the Esprit de She – I admitted myself to Urgent Care Extra to get this thing looked at, because, well, it looked pretty gross. It was starting to itch and it felt hot to the touch. Sounded like gangrene to me.
Dr. Sosnowski labeled it “abscessed” … and proceeded to drain that sucker of what seemed like a liter of pus whilst I cringed and grunted and tried to hold still. Days later, lab results would confirm Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - so next time you think you need a Z-pack for your lingering runny nose, think about the hole in my foot before you call the doctor. It’s antibiotic-resistant for a reason, people (and that reason probably has as much to do with swimming in TempE.Coli Town Lake as it does rampant antibiotic abuse).
I explained to Dr. Sosnowski that I fully intended to compete in the inaugural Esprit de She… in less than 24 hours… in Tempe Town Lake… since I’d only been training for this race for three months (fat lot of good that did me). She rolled her eyes and prescribed nuclear-grade antibiotics.
“Come back in 48 hours if it doesn’t improve. This is serious, Stacy. It’s in an awkward spot, so try to put a water-proof bandage on it before you get in the water – and when you get out, put a fresh Band-Aid on it. Your shoes are full of bacteria and you want to keep this as clean as you can.”
The good news: I rolled out of bed that morning and didn’t jump back in because of sparking pain radiating from my foot! The better news: I managed to affix Neosporin and a fresh Band-Aid to my foot during transition after the swim (adding a couple minutes to my already glacial transition time… MRSA is a good excuse not to make the podium). The bad news: I felt the wound split open during my first few steps of the run, which meant I’d likely be running more slowly than I already do.
The run split was the least of my concerns since I was halfway to disqualification anyway after the Episode on the Bike.
You will recall that I prefer to compete in triathlons in my weight class as opposed to my age group because it leverages my natural assets (167.3 pounds of awesome) in the service of physics.
For example, on the swim, I have giant (natural) chest-based flotation devices, which seem to be lacking on my fitter competitors. With or without a wetsuit, the fun-bags help me maintain my buoyancy whilst paddling my way to 20:49 in the 750-meter open-water swim (63rd percentile).
On the bike (and everywhere in the universe except for in the science-denying Louisiana state legislature), momentum is defined as the product of mass and velocity… so if I can get my fat-mass moving fast, I tend not to reduce my velocity very easily (nor do I want to – because it requires so much leg-crushing energy to get me moving again), which is why I fearlessly scream through the turns (likely causing others to scream behind me). I am unafraid: I have insulation and 20 years on the bike, and relative to the speed limit, I’m not going that fast anyway. I subscribe to the Patrick Bertinelli School of Racing: Trust Your Tires, and since he affixed them to my bike, I damn well better.
And frankly, over the course of just 20 kilometers on a map of roads that look like someone is giving you the middle finger, knuckles included, my legs can’t stomach a sadomasochistic loop of slowing-braking-turning then laboring-back-up-to-speed… especially when the run (my worst event, even without a hole in my foot) is just around that last bend.
Oh, and the laws of physics also apply to your equipment: The less a bike weighs, the faster it should go because (if you’re fit) you achieve a greater power to weight ratio. The more aerodynamic you are on the bike (unlike me), the faster you should go (on a non-gravity-assisted-downhill) because you create less resistance as you punch through the air.
The problem arises when you are a complete and total tool because you believe that riding $2,000 disc wheels with your $200 javelin helmet is going to help you win a race designed for beginners even though you insist on coming to a full stop at every freakin’ corner!
Yeah, I raced against that girl.
I would have stuck a pencil in her spokes, but she didn’t have any. Instead, I’d whip around a corner, pedaling through the apex and crushing out of each turn, passing all of the women who’d just passed me on the approach but were afraid to take the corner like a man. About a quarter-mile out of the turn, I’d hear the wah-wah-wah echo of her carbon fiber awesomeness rolling across the windswept asphalt as she tried desperately to catch the Rubenesque ass that had just kicked hers in the turn.
She’d overtake me. Per USA Triathlon rules, I’d drop back three bike lengths so as to avoid the benefit of her perfumed draft, and I’d wait for the next turn.
The most interesting part of the bike course was shaped like an upside-down “2″ – come off a straightaway, zig back right downhill into a sweeping left turn. This little shuck-and-jive dumped you into a slight grade that dead-ended in a middle-finger U-turn so we could do it all over again backwards. I passed her carbon-clad ass in the zig and just kept pedaling through the zag. She was standing in the pedals as she came to overtake me heading toward the U-turn. She even yelled, “On your left,” to overtake me, which was fine, except that the U was only about three bike-lengths away.
That rapidly reduced to one bike-length when the bitch slammed on her brakes to execute a 3-point turn! Are you serious?
Instead of plowing into the posterior of upwards of $7,000 of bicycle, plastic surgery and attitude, I cut to the inside, executed my turn and offered an insincere “Sorry!” as she indignantly shouted, “You cut me off!”
As she re-passed me, her quadriceps screaming at the effort, her hamstrings warning her about the run, I invited her to spit or pee on me if it was really that big a deal. As it was, she should have thanked my fat-ass since I saved her innocent, overpriced bike from her own stupidity, and I provided her with motivation to finish slightly better than mid-pack. You’re welcome, bitch.
Would’ves. Could’ves. Should’ves. I spent the rest of my 51:52 ride (67th percentile) rehearsing the epic upbraiding that I would deliver if I saw her in transition after the race… hoping against hope I would make her cry… then I started writing my blog in my head… then I began mentally rehearsing how I would re-apply my bandage in transition… then I started dreading the run… which I finished, limping, in 37:55 (82nd percentile).
At the end of the Esprit de She, they asked all competitors (including me, the 202nd place finisher who was not DQ’d for cutting off a diva) for suggestions to improve next year’s race. I thoughtfully filled out my response card:
1) Because this is a ladies’ only race, instead of having big-hearted volunteers from local cycling groups man the run-course water stops, please enlist shirtless firefighters, Navy SEALs and members of the ASU Men’s Soccer team.
2) Can you send someone over to hang up the clothes on the floor of my closet?
3) More corners on the bike, please!