(I'm sorry. I like that movie.)
One thing I've noticed about triathletes: The vast majority of us are Type A control freaks who get off on solving problems. And because of this, when we encounter something we can't fix or change or help in some way, we have an extraordinarily difficult time letting it go. (Don't believe me? Read everything that exists in the "Archive" section of this blog.)
Anyway, I'm currently six days into an eight-day, multi-city stretch of travel that started in New York with a wine event, a FOX News interview (I know, right?) and some quiet time remembering my cousin on the one-year anniversary of her death, which was Wednesday.
|This girl was fierce. Terrified of chickens, but still fierce.|
I met one of her best friends for breakfast. We talked for a long time -- sad, funny, honest conversation. (Death is so strange -- it hurts so much, but at the same time, you don't want the hurt to stop because you don't want it to become a blip, something that just "happened that one time.") I drank a glass of fresh-pressed green juice and ate half a bowl of soft-scrambled cacio e pepe eggs. Then I went to the airport to catch my flight to Phoenix -- the next stop on this whirlwind trip -- where I'd pick up a rental car and head to Tucson for bike camp with the tri team.
But there was something horribly, horribly wrong with that green juice and those eggs. Let's just say I now know what it is like to puke in an airport bathroom, attempt to get on the plane anyway, immediately puke in the airplane bathroom right after boarding, get escorted off the plane in front of everyone for being a "liability," watch the plane pull out of the gate with my luggage still on board and then spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor of a bathroom stall at EWR, puking non-stop. (Don't worry, germaphobes -- I picked a freshly-mopped stall and made a little spot for myself with a pile of toilet seat covers so I wasn't directly sitting on the bathroom floor.)
|I never want to see this bathroom again.|
It was so bad that I was fantasizing about a gurney and an IV bag, with my mom standing next to the bed, holding my hand. (I told you it was bad.) Finally, there was a break in the purging, so I picked myself up, got a plastic bag from a Hudson News store, called a cab and went to a hotel. (Cab driver: "Do you have luggage?" Me: "No. Long story. Please just drive.")
I got to my room just in time for Phase 2 -- a.k.a. The Pooping -- to begin. (Honestly, I would much rather deal with poop over vomit any day.)
Eventually the horror ended, and I made it to Arizona on Thursday night. I was a day late, I arrived in the same clothes I had spent the previous day puking in and I hadn't eaten anything for more than 24 hours, but I was there. And I wanted to get as much out of camp as I could.
Friday started with a swim.
|Four words: Outdoor pool in winter. Bonus word: YES.|
I made it through -- had a really strong swim, in fact -- but as soon as I got out of the pool, I started feeling shaky. I took a gel and some water and got on the bike anyway.
|Calm before the storm.|
I lasted six miles. My heart rate skyrocketed, I couldn't catch my breath and I thought I was going to hurl. I had to get off my bike and walk, stopping every few steps to heave a little. (Confession: I also cried. A lot.) I ended up in the SAG vehicle with water in one hand and Gatorade in the other. It felt humiliating.
And even though the coaches and my teammates told me over and over again that it was not my fault, that food poisoning was beyond my control, that it was better to have this happen at camp than in a race, I still felt like a failure -- so much so that as soon as I had downed some liquids, I got back on the bike and rode another 11 miles. (Which, in hindsight, was probably really stupid considering how dehydrated I was. But I felt like I had to do it or I would've kept feeling terrible about myself.)
The rest of camp turned out to be a wash for me. I couldn't run, either, so I ended up hiking a lot.
At least the scenery was pretty. And there was sun. And good people. And I wasn't on the floor of a Newark bathroom anymore. But the frustration: When your mind and heart are there and you want something so much, but your body has a different plan.
How to let go, when to know it's time for that to happen ...