Saturday, June 03, 2006

A Few of my Favorite Things (race report)

In manner of Paul Harvey, I will first show you the end of the story.

The "Milkman" is one of the oldest continuously held triathlons in this area, and as a result has been chosen each year as the "best of the US" qualifier. My friend Karen, another Athena, has run it about twenty times, I think she said. (For another race report, click here!)

The event starts with a 500 meter out-and-back swim in Lake Van. Things you need to know about Lake Van: First, if you get in trouble, just stand up. It's that shallow. Where I grew up it would have been "Pond Van" but hey, this is the desert, and they get pretty excited when there's a body of water, so what the heck. Second, the temperature, becuase it is so shallow, is somewhere between cold and not-so-cold. Wetsuits are optional. I was pretty comfortable in mine. But...surprise! like a lot of lakes in southern New Mexico, it's very alkaline. This means bitter. You will, no doubt about it, get some in your mouth when you breath. It's bitter. You've been warned.

I was in the fifth wave - they go in waves based on age groups. I like the idea of waves, because people can be way faster than me and still be behind me. Of course, I also notice people in later waves passing me, but that's okay. It's just that it's so lonely being last. I like having people behind me.
As I was standing in line, I finally asked another Outlaw, Trub, why she had that white stuff all over her lip. I'd been wondering about it for an hour. Is it sunscreen, I thought, if so, why is it only on her upper lip? Does she know its there? She couldn't have been bleaching (or waxing, as Karen ventured) and left it on there, could she? Should I say something? would she be embarassed? Oh, forget it. I have to know.
"Trub, what IS that on your upper lip?"
"Got milk?" she asked.
Oh! I am a little thick this morning, I guess.

Once out of the lake, it's an easy walk to a well-organized transition area. here are your instructions: Strip off the wetsuit. Sit down and bitch about how bitter the lake was. Try to dry your feet. Bitch some more, and spit a little, trying to get the taste out of your mouth. Ick. Get the socks out of the bottom of the bag, where they've been left for some reason. Put on the shoes, grab the helmet, sunglasses, a gel, the inhaler, the bike, and trot toward the start line.

Three things you need to know about the bike: First, it's bumpy. Second, they'll tell you it's flat; they lie. Third, it gets a little windy. This is, I've disovered, one of the benefits of being fast: you can get done before the wind kicks up in parts of west Texas and southern New Mexico. I'm not so fast. It's get windy and hot where I am.

The Bike course is a 12.4 mile course out and back along some rural roads. There was very little traffic, and it was just bumpy, windy, and uphill enough to be challenging. A fun race. I dropped a couple people, and dozens more dropped me. At the turnaround, they gave out FULL, COLD, WATER BOTTLES. How cool is that? Yum. Slurp. CLEAN water.

On the bike, I knew I was already tired. I hadn't had my usual morning cup of coffee, and I'm an addict. I'd gotten to sleep too late the night before, because Husband and I and a couple of other Outlaws had gone to Applebees. Applesbees is a very upscale Denny's, in that they find it next to impossible to make any manner of entree that does not represent at least two members of the animal kingdom. For this vegan, that makes eating difficult. Do you know that they have a "Fried Chicken Salad?" Is this the state of eating that America is in today? In a previous life, I would have been wildly excited about "Fried Chicken Salad," using it to rationalize all manner of disgusting eating, e.g., "it says must be healthy..."
In any case, we had a good time with other team members...fellow Outlaw Miguel, aka "Shark bait" was saying (in his thick, Columian accent) "Hey, Meesty, ju should haf a beeer. Eetz carbs, ju know. Ju need the carbs." Then he would start pouring salt on his food, "No crrramps! No crrrramps!" (Miguel is famous among Outlaw lore for apparently running off the course in an Ironman and running through a picnic, yelling for salt because he was cramping. They were trying to give him burgers and such)

But I digress.

The run was hot, but it was fun. It went all over, through the some grasslands and back, along a hard-packed dirt trail and around the pond-lake Van. At about the half-way mark, there was a guy that Karen referred to as the "oorah guy". He sounded like a Military Drill sargeant, and like the rest of the Milkman volunteers, was awesome and full of zeal. I could hear him yelling about half a mile away.
(By the way, "downhill" was, at best, an extreme exaggeration).

Once again I surrendered to the feeling of being completely alone on the course. Some people were way ahead. Some were way behind. I ran along, pretty well into the "flow" until I got up to the "oorah" guy. After that, it was just work. And it was hot. But, I finished. Alone and hot. I headed to the lake to cool off, to be confronted with a large sign, "NO SWIMMING IN THIS LAKE."

So, I put on some makeup, of course, and hung around to see how I'd done. Karen got first in the Master's division and first Athena overall. I also got to meet Dread Pirate, who is cute and very fit - one of those tiny, swift, sleek people that I will NEVER be.

SYou know, some triathlons give you medals or plaques when you place. Cool ones, like the "Buffman and Squeaky give you very cool lucite dog bones with pictures of Buffman and Squeaky, two boston terriers, etched into it. The "Cotton Country Sprint" gives you a little bail of cotton, and the AtomicMan gives you a little Native American woven mug rugs. I have one of each. They are a few of my favorite things. when I feel like I'm not a good teacher, or could have been a better mother...I like to look at my little trophies. They remind that, although I'm not perfect, I give it my best until the end.
The Milkman Sprint Triathlon gives ceramic milk pitchers and milk bottles.

and now you know the rest of the story.


  1. WAY TO GO!! And that's an awesome award!!

  2. Congratulations! what a great race report.. i love it when i laugh out loud when i'm reading.. you made me do that this morning! Again, congratulations!

  3. Hmmmm... a Vegan doing a triathlon about Milk. Great Report and Congratulations on placing and getting one of those nifty little milk bottles!!!

  4. yes, I love your milk jug. I so wanted a milk jug of my own. Alas, not this year...

    Oh stop, You are too kind! You must be my new best friend!


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