Today is the the day. Oh no. Oh boy!

The race started at 9:00 am, which was no problem for me. I was ready at 5:00 am. All the carbs I ate the night before were still loaded in my belly. I felt both heavy and edgy. Never having felt like this before, except for when I was pregnant, I deduced, “This must be ‘The Wall’ distance athletes talk about.” Then I remembered they usually encountered “The Wall” during the event, not before the event. So I took my dogs for a long walk, hoping to stimulate my bowels and calm my nerves. No luck. I would go into this competition carrying 8 extra pounds of coagulated gluten and as anxious as an unprepared middle-aged woman entering a freaking triathlon.

Being a novice and cheap, I didn’t invest in proper triathlon attire or equipment. Supposed Friend talked about strange sports terminology like “aerodynamics,” “racing bicycles, “heart-rate monitors,” “goggles,” “padded cycling shorts,” and “skin-tight, coordinated outfits that make you look like a champ and hide your bulges.” Pfft! Woody Allen said 80% of success is just showing up. It worked for him. He shows up frequently and look at how successful he is.

Look at him. The man oozes success and self-confidence.

I packed myself into my black swimsuit, shimmied into some stretchy black shorts, because black is a very slimming color (that’s why most whales and limousines are black) and threw an over-sized red tee-shirt over the whole bulging mess, because everyone knows a blonde looks fantastic in red.

That’s what I’m talking about. A green collar just wouldn’t be as, well, smokin’ hot.

I forced myself to eat a banana because monkeys eat bananas and they are very agile–monkeys, not bananas. Also, I learned that bananas are a super food.  Bananas are great for high blood pressure, depression and even for hangovers and warts. You can also use them for polishing wood and leather and for removing scratches from CDs. None of that helped me for the triathlon, but it was still good to know.

My brother-in-law, a real triathlete, gave me some packets of vanilla flavored goop. He told me to tear one open and suck out the contents when I needed a boost of energy. Each had the calorie equivalent of 3 Dunkin Donut large Vanilla Bean Coolattas and the enjoyment equivalent of swallowing vanilla-flavored Elmer’s glue. I know because I tried one a few days before the race. How could I resist? I packed 4 of them, a water bottle, towel, and a change of clothes in my backpack.

Maybe this is why real athletes prefer the glue goop to tasty (and possibly nutritious due to the beans) Vanilla Coolattas during the race. Things could get messy and sticky between competitors.

I needed help to get my bike onto the bike rack of our car. I had a mountain bike. Yes, the kind with the fat, nubby tires and that weighs 80 pounds.  I didn’t get my strong, shapely legs by sitting around the house polishing wood with bananas all day.

Once we loaded the bike, my then-husband, current son, and I drove to the site of the race to meet my sisters and my mom. I had my very own cheering section.

Sure, they had time to pose for a picture of themselves. But what about me? Wasn’t I supposed to be the main attraction of the day? 

Until I arrived, I had no idea how many people entered the “Y-Tri.” I still don’t have an exact number, but a fair estimate would be a lot. The place was packed with svelte, energetic, color-coordinated athletes…and me in my big red tee-shirt. There were some small children and a few older people, but most competitors looked as if they could have been at the Olympics. The song from Sesame Street “One of These Things is Not Like The Other Ones” kept looping in my head.

Well, I was wearing red…

I spotted Supposed Friend. She was decked out in her racing finest, limbering up by doing jumping jacks. Shouldn’t we be conserving our energy for the race?, I thought. I was limbering up by stretching while looking for an obscure escape route. She saw me and sprinted over. “Hi Lorna! Aren’t you excited!” She wasn’t even out of breath.

“Oh, sure. Yeah. I’m pumped,” I said, breathing too hard for just standing and stretching.

She was jumping again. I wanted to push her over in mid-jump when I heard the announcement over the loudspeakers, “All contestants report to poolside. The race is about to begin.”

She stuck her landing and said, “Come on, Lorna, let’s go!” She was giddy. I was hyperventilating. Someone should have noticed and given me oxygen or a bag.

Lucky penguin. You have a bag and you can swim.

Hang on for one more installment. I promise. The race and the results are coming up next…