America, July 4, 2004
Like you could come close to catching us!
For the second time this year, I'm doing my dying chicken swim in a pond of dubious dark water. At least this time I am prepared for the claustrophobia of murky man-made lagoons and I can concentrate on my breath, my stroke, and my challenge.|
I am again in a triathlon, this time its Tri-America Triathlon Series on the Fourth of July in Irving, Texas. That's right, I've traded Jersey Shore triathlons for Texas ones, and there is definitely a difference.
Unlike Jersey, there is a Texas twang in the air, and not a few athletes take off a cowboy hat or boots to get into their race outfits. Then the weather is much hotter, with temperatures in the 90's by race time. Last but not least, this time I have a challenger.
I am here in Texas, doing this second race, cuz I was challenged. I was challenged not by a friend, not by a lover, but someone who matters so much more: family! My cousin George, upon hearing about my Cape May success in June, instantly baited me with a brotherly question of my abilities, my skills, my manhood.
Not one to shrink from a challenge, especially when its pure machismo, I booked the next ticket to Texas, and now, splashing in this muck, he's kicking my butt. That, of course, is not what's supposed to happen. I'm 14 years his junior, and in 20 lbs better shape.
I am to be passing him, splashing in his face, and leaving him behind. What I see instead is George speeding out the bike transition area, ready to roll, as I come stumbling and sputtering in. With half the pond in my belly, I wanna puke more than bike but I have no choice. Onto two wheels I climb and off I go.
I am going so fast in so much pain, that I don't even notice that I pass George in the first 10 minutes of the ride. No, I keep thinking he's just ahead of me, that guy on the yellow bike still unpassed.
As I catch each yellow bike I check: Is this George? No! He must be that next yellow bike, or the next after that, or the next. I keep seeing George just ahead, just past me, just out of reach all the way to the bike finish.
To my horror, in the bike transition, I see a yellow bike in his spot. How could he be that far ahead? That fast! Too fast! Too fast for me to think about as I jump in my running shoes and sprint out on the road. Run, run, run! This is all I can say as my body aches, my mind blanks, and I wilt in the hot Texas sun.
There he is! George is ahead of me, running in his funny gait, relaxed and with a smile. I shout, I scream, I say he cheats, and to all that George smirks. It's not for another mile of sweat that I see I'm chasing a ghost.
George is not ahead. He is not beating me. He's not even near me. I am in the lead, I am winning, I am first! I am so happy that I forget my cramps, my pain, my sweat. I cry in joy and run faster. Swiftly I pass the finish and collapse in joy.
After all that goading, all that stress, and after he even tried to starve me the day before, in 86 minutes and 38th place I finished the Tri-America Triathlon Series Fourth of July Sprint Triathlon and kept my triathlete title.