Sometime during Hour 4 of our epic 7-hour, 32-minute, 15-second Soma Half-Ironman on Sunday, my Mom asked me: “What’s the hardest of the three events in this race?”
From the shady confines of the Team Athena Riding Clydesdales Party Pavilion™, I took a long draw on my cold beer and gazed out upon the shimmering brown waters of Tempe Town Lake. I pondered my sweet husband Patrick, aka Clydesdale #1, riding his bicycle over 56 wind-whipped miles. I considered the coming suffering of Clydesdale #2, Jason Robert, running his 13.1-mile half-marathon under a blazing noonday sun. I breathed a sweet sigh of relief.
“Not the swim. Definitely not the swim. I mean, maybe if I was in the Arctic Ocean, during a tsunami, with sharks to the left of me and sea lions to the right, only then could the swim possibly be the hardest event – but on a day like today?” I clicked to the tracking app on the iPad to follow Pat’s progress – the breeze that cooled us in the Party Pavilion simultaneously punished him on Rio Salado Parkway. “On a day like today, I’m glad to be the swimmer.”
The Face of Pre-Race Hydration
Having cast aside the comfort and relative anonymity of triathlon relays months ago, I set my sights on my first real solo multi-sport adventure: Nathan’s Tempe Triathlon on Septmeber 23 at TempE.coli Town Lake. Yes, I’d competed in the Anthem Sprint Triathlon weeks before – earning a silver medal as the second-fastest of the fattest – but I didn’t feel right counting that event since I could have waded through the swim.
My taste of the silver medal, however tainted, had inspired new dedication to training – after all, I was mere seconds away from being the fastest of the fattest – how well could I do if I actually stuck to my training plan and larded my training table with something more than burritos and beer. Ergo, I redoubled my commitment to good nutrition. I was going to hydrate the shit out of myself… Or should I say piss?
Pre-Hydrated and Ready to Rhumba!
Transition Area of Awesomeness
IIIIIIII AM THE FASTEST, MY FRIENDS!!!!
‘CAUSE I KEPT ON TRYING… TILL THE END!
I AM THE FASTEST! I AM THE FASTEST!
NO TIME FOR LOSERS ‘CAUSE I AM THE FASTEST…
… of the fattest!
Actually, not quite the fastest (and definitely not THE fattest) - I was only the silver medalist in the Athena Division for the Anthem Sprint Triathlon today, finishing the 5-kilometer run, 20-kilometer bike and 400-meter swim in 1 hour, 41 minutes, 25 seconds.
I was just 50 seconds off the gold medal, but given that this is the first medal I have ever won when other people (15 of them, actually) finished (or did not finish) behind me, I value this silver medal as much as I would a gold medal. Suffice it to say, on any other day, I’m proud to make the Top 10… because I usually finish 10th of 10.
No brown M&Ms
The circus has left town.
The leaf blowers have swept the confetti detritus from the stage.
The amplifiers, the washing machine, the tapestries for the dressing room. The tackle boxes of guitar picks. The lava lamps. The pop-up tents for the T-shirt vendors. The color-coded stickies. The Post-It notes from the bathroom door. The Party Shark. The exhausted helium tank. The racks of cabbage cases with their precious cargo. It has all been packed away – the army of 18-wheelers repurposed for another life.
I am the aunt-by-marriage of a rock star. Patrick’s nephew is Wolfgang Van Halen, who is the full-time bass player for the eponymous super-group. I will not debate the merits of my nephew over their previous bass player as I AM OVERWHELMINGLY BIASED, and this has been discussed ad nauseum in other venues. The band just wrapped up the first leg of their North American tour in support of their new album, A Different Kind of Truth. Late summer and fall dates have been postponed – and no, it’s not because they’re fighting with the lead singer (the original lead singer, David Lee Roth).
With the exception of my 21-year-old nephew, they’re all pushing 60. They’d been touring since February, practicing since long before that, and in the studio for God-kn0ws-how-long before then. I’m sure they’re tired – I know I am, and I only went to four shows.
But wow – those four shows… where to begin?
With an exclusive, unauthorized BEHIND-THE-SCENES LOOK AT THE VAN HALEN TOUR!!!! (ALL-CAPS, natch!) Including ALL-ACCESS reportage from the OFFICIAL tour bus! Secrets revealed! True Hollywood Stories™ told! Behind The Music heard! It’s all here:
The view from the cliff
As an official one-sixth Ironman, I decided to test my mad swimming skills in the Pacific Ocean – the site of my first-ever open-water journey.
Pat and I were visiting with friends in Malibu. I figured I should try to get some exercise in before I started enjoying adult beverages (again), so I pulled on my Vibram five-fingers, shoe-horned myself into the Vortex 3, slapped on my favorite pink skull-and-crossbones swim cap and headed for the surf.
“Now, Pat, you have to watch me – you can’t just sit around and drink, you have to watch – because my Dad doesn’t like me swimming in the ocean – especially without a lifeguard.”
Yes, I realize I am a 40-year-old woman. Your parents worry too when you do stupid things like cross the Grand Canyon, race your motorcycle, jump out of an airplane twice or get a tattoo. They’re parents. It’s what they do.
My friend Candice agreed to observe from the beach, while Pat and Candice’s fiancé Mike watched from 51 steps above, on the cliff. I wasn’t sure that Pat would be able to do much for me from the cliff, but at least we would have a photographic record of my being swept away.
And here is the story of my close encounter with a sea lion, told from four perspectives…