Monday, July 29, 2013

Nothing makes you want to do an iron-distance race more than watching your friend go through the experience. I flew back to California this past weekend (I think maybe I'm addicted to airports?) to volunteer at the Vineman 140.6 and support Arvan for his first full.

This involved getting up at an obscenely early hour to start my shift as a bodymarker (yes, that's a real thing, and yes, I got to touch a lot of biceps and legs) at 4:30 a.m. I can't believe people trusted me with a Sharpie and their limbs after I got only 2.5 hours of sleep and was quite possibly a little bit hungover.

We can thank the Postal Service for that one.

(By the way, if I bought tickets months and months in advance to see a band who released only one album a decade ago and then I flew from out of state to use said tickets, does this mean I'm somehow psychologically stuck in my mid-20s? Perhaps that example of overanalysis is yes.)

Anyway. So I was saying: Arvan.   

I remember the first time I met him. I had signed up for Heart & Sole's marathon training group to prepare for Portland in 2010. Our first long group run was in Sonoma, and Arvan was there, doing the Jeff Galloway run-walk thing. He had never completed a marathon before. 

And now look at him. All pumped up and ready for those 140.6 miles. I will never stop being amazed by where life can take you.

I bodymarked Arvan on race morning and drew a happy face on his leg for good luck.

(A few random side thoughts on bodymarking, since this was the first time I ever did it: It's a little strange and oddly personal. You touch strangers and get up close to their skin. You see the scars on their knees from when they crashed their bikes, or grim lines that are reminders of past surgeries. You feel the stubble on the men who tried to shave for the event but didn't quite get it right, and you feel the stubble on the women who basically just don't believe in shaving, period. You see people's tattoos and you wonder about the story behind them. You feel a little apologetic when a shivering athlete has to take off her sweatshirt so you can write on her bicep, a little awkward when you have to kneel in front of a male athlete with his sweats around his ankles. And sometimes those strangers ask you to write a name on their arms -- something they can look at and remember and honor during the toughest parts of their race.)

The other fun thing about Saturday's race: The full and half Aquabike and Barb's Race were also happening at the same time, so I got to see several familiar faces, including Gwen.

Isn't she adorable waving in her wetsuit? 

Gwen was an incredible mentor when I started getting into open water. She printed out aerial maps of the Russian River for me, pointed out all the shallow parts, warned me about the big "weed patch" growing in the water and basically just kept me from freaking out. I wouldn't be where I am now without her.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Friends are the best part of triathlon.

That and scavenging (well, if you're a hoarder, which I am not, except for maybe when it comes to cats and any kind of food item that has truffles in it -- I seem to have endless jars of truffle salt). Because so much shit gets abandoned at races that you could basically redo your entire summer shoe wardrobe:

Arvan finished in 14:48:18. I wasn't at the finish line (largely due to my lack of sleep the night before -- ack!), but Thai was there -- she ran him in and said he was practically glowing. Then she texted me this photo:

Rock star status!

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