I know I’ve said it before, but some days just Do. Not. Go. According. To. Plan.
Today was one of them. Wow. It was spectacularly amazing how much today did not go according to plan. The good news is, I’m in need of a lighthearted post since my last one was pretty heavy. So this came at just the right time.
The plan was…I would pick up Jen at 6:30 (much to my chagrin) and drive to New Town. We would do a little open water swim practice. Then the rest of the crew (Justin, Kris, Tony, Steve and another Jen) would show up around 8 and we’d go for a 30ish mile bike, followed by a run. Kris was suggesting only a couple miles, I was feeling ambitious, so I figured at least 4. Then I would come home, shower, relax and feel incredibly accomplished for the rest of the day.
Here’s what really happened…
As planned, or relatively close to it, I arrived, coffee in hand, to pick up Jen. She was outside with her gear ready to go, so we put her bike on the rack with mine and away we went. She was cheery, I was trying not to be grumpy. The sky was a stunning array of pinks and purples as the orange ball of light rose over 40/64. We were a few minutes behind schedule as we drove north on 270 but everything was going roughly according to plan, until I forgot where I was going for a second and we ended up on Main Street Old St. Charles. Ummm, oops.
We had been having such a lovely time chatting that I just completely flaked. So, back to 70 and over to 370 and almost there. My blond moment had set us back some, but Jen took it in stride. We finally pulled into New Town around 7:40 and made our way towards the lake in the center. I looked at the other side of the lake and said, “Oh, there’s Tony’s car.” Yep, all of our friends who were supposed to be waiting for us after the swim, had beaten us there. Super. But in all honesty, the time in the car with Jen had been good therapy. Ya know how sometimes, you feel like you just click with someone? Jen is one of those people. The funny thing is we’ve both had this same circle of friends for well over a year, but we just officially met a couple weeks ago. Today was confirmation that we are supposed to be friends.
After saying hi to the crew, Jen and I began the process of wetsuiting. You thought wetsuit was a noun, didn’t you? I have decided it can be a verb too, because I assure you the act of putting on a wetsuit deserves its own word. Other than the 4 letter words I associate with it.
The nice lady whose house we happened to be in front of, came to the door to let us know that her sprinklers were headed our way. We appreciated the warning, not that it would have made much difference. But we were happy she wasn’t yelling at us or turning us into the authorities for trespassing.
Anyway, back to wetsuiting. Lather on Body glide, one foot in, the other foot in, slowly work it up and over the booty. Somehow Jen managed to get into hers before I was anywhere even close. Gerry had joined us at New Town this morning, simply to be our stripper. Wet suit stripper, that is. He volunteered for the task of helping us remove the wetsuits. However, his presence proved much more valuable for assistance with the opposite task. Eventually Jen and Gerry each took a leg and as they worked the neoprene over my knees they lifted me completely off the ground. Laughing, I grabbed onto their shoulders so I didn’t fall on my head. I’m sure the two guys in the truck behind us thought the whole scene was hilarious. Who could blame them? We were ridiculous. It was fantastic.
Finally, wetsuits, swim caps and goggles on. We walked over to the water and in we went. The cycling crew was long gone, but Gerry sat and watched as we sputtered through our first strokes. We all laughed as I was immediately tangled in seaweed. Ok, try again, a few strokes in…anxiety attack. Can’t breathe. Remain calm and begin again. We both started to find a rhythm. Every 100 meters or so, we’d check in to make sure the other was ok and catch our breath. Then, right back to it. Somehow we managed to stretch a .6 mile swim into over a mile. We were a magnificent display of criss-crossing each other’s wake. We did a virtual high-five from about 10 feet away as we arrived back at our starting point. And the even better news was that the cyclists weren’t back yet, so at least we didn’t take THAT long. We climbed out of the lake, walked back to the car and removed our wetsuits, which took considerably less time than putting mine on.
We had stashed my car key in Jen’s saddle bag so I unzipped it and unlocked the car. We weren’t practicing a fast transition so we took our time changing into dry cycling gear, pumping tires, putting on cycling shoes/gloves/helmets and having a quick snack. Jen had stashed a bag of gummy bears in her car yesterday so her boys wouldn’t find them and when she showed me the blob they had melted into, we laughed about the inappropriate form it had taken.
We debated waiting for the group’s return, but ultimately we decided to take off. And I really had to pee. So we rode over to the little market and Jen stayed with the bikes while I went in and used the ladies room. It was a miracle I didn’t get lost, because it was about the only time I made it to my destination without an unplanned detour during the entire morning.
When I returned to Jen waiting outside, we mounted the bikes and slowly began making our way out of the neighborhood. I said, “I’m not really sure where I’m going out here.” Jen responded, “Me neither. I usually just follow Tony.” Yeah, that’s what I usually do. We joked about the blind leading the blind. Maybe it should have been the blond leading the blind? Sadly, we got lost several more times just getting out of the neighborhood. But sometimes getting lost is the best way to figure out where you want to go. (Take a second and ponder that)
We eventually found our way out onto one of the main roads and in the middle of Jen’s response to my question about her job, I glanced forward and saw that her saddle bag was open.
“Uh, Jen, I don’t want to interrupt but your saddle bag is open and we need to make sure the car key is still in there.”
She came to a screeching stop and we both grabbed for the bag. It’s not there. She pulled the spare tube out, looked through everything. Nope. Not there.
And so began a slow retracing of our route, eyes glued to the other side of the road, scanning for the only key I have to my car.
You want to know what happens to Lindsey in that much stress? I go silent. A girl who never, ever stops talking when there is someone to talk to, suddenly has no voice at all. I began praying silently in my head, Please let us find the key…over and over and over. They were the only words I knew. About 2 minutes later we ran into the rest of the group. Oh good, more eyes means a better shot at finding it! Unless…oh no, please don’t let that key have rattled free as we crossed one of the bridges over the lake…
We all rode slowly back into the neighborhood. Jen and Steve (or Justin? Or both?) rode one way to cover one of our little accidental detours. I headed back toward the market with Tony and Kris. I think “other Jen” went a different way. I wasn’t entirely sure who was where since I was so focused on starring at the ground.
Jen pulled over a couple of guys in a maintenance vehicle and asked if they might have seen a key on the ground. They said to check the market.
We rode back to the corner, back over the cobblestone section of road where I was desperately hoping it would be due to the jarring as we rode over the bumps. Nothing. Solemnly, we headed down the last stretch toward the cars. “Please let it be by the car…”
As we arrived at the car and leaned the bikes, Justin had me retrace exactly how we’d done things. Tony and Jen looked through the leaves by the curb, Justin and I started walking back the way we had gone.
Justin and Kris decided to put on running shoes and look for it that way. Great idea! Too bad my running shoes are locked in the car.
As a last resort, Jen and I rode back over to the market to see if it was there. There was a guy setting up chairs for a wedding. And just as Jen asked him if he had seen a key, he said, “Yeah, I was trying to yell to you guys, cause I thought you were looking for it. I took it into the market.”
Oh Thank you Lord!
We affirmed the wedding setter-upper with “Thank you!”, “You are my favorite person EVER!” and “You’re awesome!”
I practically flew off my bike, handed it to Jen and ran into the market, my cycling shoes clicking on the tile floor. I saw the cashier and searched his face as I simply asked, “Car key?” He said, “Right here” as he reached into a drawer behind the counter. That market was my beacon in the night today.
As I returned to Jen outside, a wave of relief washed over both of us. We pedaled back to the cars and as soon as everyone was within earshot I let out a loud “Woohoo!” We heard their return cheer echo in the distance.
I looked at Jen and said, “Should we quit while we’re ahead?” She said emphatically, “Yes!”
Most lame training ride ever. We covered about 6 miles in an hour.
Justin and Kris were headed out for a run, so we traded our cycling shoes for running shoes, ditched our helmets and locked the bikes back to the car.
I firmly clutched the car key in my hand as we began running, trying to catch up with them. Again, we weren’t entirely sure where they were or where we were going. They said a loop around the lake, right? Sure. A mile or so later, we were back at the cars having gone around the lake, and never finding them. Hmmm…
And then we saw them coming toward us. They were shooting for 2 miles so we joined them for a little back and forth on the road where we were parked . Well, at least this way we can’t get lost. Or if we lose the key again, we won’t have much ground to cover to look for it. In the future, Tony has been assigned the task of marking the bike course with chalk. And I am accepting applications for a “Key Master”.
Jen and I finished the day at just over a mile swim, about 6.5 on the bike and just under a 2 mile run. Not even 10 miles in total. But we had done a mini-tri, practiced transitions (sort of), held a scavenger hunt and had quite an adventure. Most importantly, we had gotten in a practice swim in the wetsuit. And we bonded.
As we drove out of New Town, I yelled out the window to our friends, “Maybe you should follow us out of here so we don’t get lost again.” They all laughed. And then Jen said, “It’s funny but it’s true.” And we laughed again. We did beat them out of New Town. It was the only thing we won at today.
As we drove home, we resumed our continual chatter. During the run, Jen had continued the story I cut short upon noticing the open saddle bag. And our conversation went into deeper topics. I still can’t believe I haven’t known this girl my entire life. As I turned into her neighborhood, and onto our street, I was a little sad that our morning was over. We hadn’t really done what we set out to do, but I know I got so much more out of it than I ever could have imagined.
Then I drove the mile back to my house, sat my nasty self on the couch and ate a bag of goldfish crackers. I don’t mean a handful. I mean I opened a brand new bag and ate every last morsel of that flavor blasted goodness. Hey, better to drown my frustrations in goldfish than calling up Gerry to see if he has any more of the Tequila left that I kept refusing last night.
While our workout today left me feeling like a huge embarrassing failure, the time I had with Jen was priceless. And I can’t thank that group of people enough for sticking it out today until everything was under control. I have my second 70.3 next weekend to prove myself as an athlete. And I’m so glad that most of the folks from this morning will be out on that course with me. Justin, Kris, Steve and Jen are all after their A race for 2014. Other Jen is on a relay team. Hopefully, Tony will come out and take some stellar pictures of us since he isn’t registered. For me, it’ll just be another day at the office as I use it as a big training day in prep for Arizona. I can’t think of a better way to spend next Sunday than having a “do-over” of today. But even if I had known what was in store for today when my alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, I wouldn’t do this “Triathlon of emotions” any differently.
PS-Justin, I think I’ll head over to the Hyundai dealership right now to have a second key made.