A Triathlon Story
(or Voodoo Brine for the Soul)

Saturday, September 23, 2000

The Corpus Christi Island Triathlon was held in August with some interesting results. Read on and experience the excitement and the human drama of this sea-side tri...


We decided to take the back roads to Corpus and discovered the Map Quest instructions just don't get the job done on country roads. After a couple of wrong turns in small towns where the Dairy Queen serves as the Town Hall, the court house and the jail, my friend Martha and I decided to buy a map. Good investment. We eventually made it down to North Padre Island.

We stayed at the Red Roof Inn and had a view of...the interstate. Which was nice, REALLY, because you don't see enough of that. An added perk was that this hotel had opened up it's stairwell as a urinal for truckers in need who couldn't make it to the neighboring 7-11. This gave it a real sense of community which more than made up for the smell haunting the stairwell.


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The good news is that our pre-race movie was ALIENS. Watching Sigourney Weaver blow up aliens kicks butt. Second only to Rocky for inspiration through justice-based violence, ALIENS is a great movie to watch when you need to get your game face on.

Last minute preparations included a search for a bucket. We wanted a bucket because sand on the feet is not a good thing for the bike or the run. Have you ever tried to buy a bucket at 10 p.m.? Try it some time. It's not easy to do. Where do you go? We searched for a Buckets-R-Us or Bucket Emporium to no avail and settled on Walgreen's where we found a turkey basting pan, which is actually better than a bucket for feet washing.

I had imagined the swim would be in the surf. It wasn't. It was in a canal that served as a waterway for some bayside homes. Before the race I checked out the water. It's rusty color and questionable smell on the warm morning air made me resolve to do whatever it took not to drink any of it. That was my goal in this swim. Last race it was: pick the shortest line to the next buoy and swim to it. This race the goal was: don't drink the water. I failed miserably.

There were only about 50 people in the waves, so it wasn't too packed. Still, the canal was narrow so the water was churned up. It got this soapy froth on the surface, so sometimes you'd come up for a breath and end up with a mouthful of voodoo brine. This stuff burned the back of your throat and made you feel generally sick to your stomach. Imagine if you will a baking Texas summer (that should be a stretch) and a long forgotten coke can in someone's backyard. In that coke can is a liquid science experiment of epic funkiness: the product of coke, rain water, rust, dead bugs, etc. Now add a dash of hot vinegar, and you have the brackish elixir that was this canal water we drank. In short, I can't overemphasize how gross it actually tasted.

Other than that, the swim was fine. Except this one thing. Toward the end of the course, this guy and I kept bumping into each other. We were going about the same speed and had apparently picked the same line, and after about three bumps or so he reaches over and pushes me away and shouts "Move over"! He actually stopped swimming to do this. Dude, chill out. It's not like I cut in line in front of you at the water fountain after recess. I didn't realize my group included men aged 29 to 45, plus one whiny 13-year-old.

Okay, here we go. I know the race director said in his post-race email that they had "cleared the gravel" as much as possible, but how much gravel can a couple of volunteers sweep off of 19 miles of highway? Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the sentiment and any effort they put into it, but the recent road work done by the city (which, to be fair to the race organizers, was out of their control) made the ride miserably bumpy. There was a stretch of road at the turn-around that was smooth as glass. It gave me brief hope that all might be right with the world, but that illusion was shattered as the second half of the loop began and sucked my wheels into the grinder again.

A couple of us talked after the race and we all noticed our hands went numb in the run. It was from the rough bike. There was also a general consensus that more water stops were needed, which I'd have to agree with. But overall, the run was fine. How bad can 3 miles be?

Where was the music? If I don't hear a little Aerosmith or G-n-R while dry-heaving over my shoes, my race isn't complete. And where was the food? I went to the area with lots of banana peels on the ground and someone said "They just took the bananas away to the church." What?! Why? Did a group of hungry monkeys suddenly show up at the door seeking refuge? I Need food. Now. Aaaarrrggghhhh. Glycogen window.........c-l-o-s-i-n-g.

The t-shirt is cool.

This race has inspired a completely new brick that I'm sure you've never done before and I know you'll love. To properly prepare your body for that hell of a bike ride , try this. Perform 30 minutes on the bike, then use a jack hammer for about 20 minutes. Really lean into the jack hammer so your full body weight forces your hands to absorb the repetitive shock. Repeat this interval 3 times. To simulate post-swim condition during the intervals, make small paper cuts in your mouth. Then, pour * cup of Morton table salt into your mouth and chew. Finally, have your work out partner splash water on you (using your transition bucket) and hit you about the head and shoulders shouting encouraging phrases at you like "Get out of my way", "Move over" and "Leave me alone". This won't make you stronger, but it will lower your self-esteem.

Alright, joking aside, the race was a lot of fun, but could be improved with a little more atmosphere....a massage table, some food and some tunes at the finish would be a great start.


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