The Lesson: Always have fun. This is a young sport, a rogue sport, a sport not afflicted with ubiquitous marketing and billion dollar salaries. The majority of people do this because they have real passion. So, always have fun, even if things don’t go as planned.
The Race: New Jersey Genesis Triathlon
The Place: Port Republic, NJ
The Date: 7/30/05
The Distances: .5-swim/20 mi.ride/4mi. (odd distances, but a really good race).
My skill level: I am 32. I’ve raced in about 6 races (sprint & Olympic distances). I usually finish in the top one third. I have set my sight on 2 half-irons. Next season. I always remember to have fun; I even joke with the volunteers at the water stops during the run.
The Challenge: Get to race and feel good—good enough to beat my friend who had been gunning for me since the ‘04 season, and bring my family along--my lovely wife of 7 years and my 2 year old daughter (yes, 2 years old) so we could all have a mini-vacation.
So here is how it went down. We’re from Delaware (Philadelphia originally—no one is actually from Delaware), so we go to Delaware beaches, not the Jersey Shore. Needless to say, we got lost on the way. I had heard Jersey was a confusing state to drive in, but I am a man so therefore I don’t get lost. After driving for roughly 2 hours, we finally noticed we were not too far from New York—Staten Island according to the map we neglected. We get to toll booth and with a couple laughs, the attendant sets me straight.
We begin our second leg of the trip and my daughter, Matera, wakes up and decides she’d like to get out of the car. Tensions were already running high.
After what turned out to be 4 hours in the car, we finally get to Ocean City NJ and start looking for our motel. I had been to the Jersey Shore growing up, but my wife is used to expensive condos at the Delaware beaches; as a result, the room’s pink shag carpet circa 1970 completely freaked her out. Luckily, whoever had filmed the last XXX movie or dismembered the last body was no longer present.
We ate on the boardwalk, some greasy spoon I knew I should have avoided, but try reasoning with a 2 year old the merits of proper nutrition before a race. My wife gets food poisoning. It manifests fairly quickly, so, as you could imagine, I am super concerned that I may get it.
I tell her to toughen up—we all have our crosses to bear in life. So the rest of the day is a steady decline: restless child, sick wife, dirty motel room, and the worst thing of all—Ocean City New Jersey is a dry county. Now I know shouldn’t drink before a race, but I consider Guinness as a somewhat healthy choice of beverages.
I wake up at 4 a.m. the next morning to start my rituals. It is pouring rain, and the rain is cold. I go to a convenience store to get coffee, and as I pull up I notice a young couple, both practically in tears. They were breaking up—right here at the Wa-wa. It seemed tragic... at least for them. For me, it seemed funny—a flashback to my own tumultuous teen romances. No matter what it was, my superstitious side told me--This couldn’t be a bad omen, could it?
It was. On the drive back to the motel room, approximately 3 blocks, I got a flat tire. I pulled into a closed gas station that had an air pump—which I had to pay 75 cents to use. By the time I drove back to the room, it had already gone flat again, and –no lie—one of my headlights was out. My car is only 3 years old!
When I walk into the room, I discreetly try to slip back into bed. My wife inquires what I am doing and I tell her all. I tell her I have done better races then this, so what if I skip this one. She offers to fix the flat. I don’t know if she has ever even seen a jack before.
Her compassion spurred me into action. I fixed the flat, drove the race on a donut, got lost and had to ask for directions again, got to the race an had 10 minutes to register and get my wetsuit on and find a spot in the transition area.
The result: 84 out of 223. I still had fun with the volunteers, I still beat my friend, and I am still married with a lovely wife and 2-year-old daughter.