Monday, January 11, 2010

The Triathlon Diaries - Volume Two

Asbury Park 2010
The Road to the Asbury Park Triathlon, July 2010

Sometime during the late, cold months of 2009, musician and decided non-runner Don DiLego, perhaps slightly inebriated, hears amongst the caucaphony of music and conversation in Barramundi in the Lower Eat Side, a couple buddies discuss their plans to compete in a "triathlon man, yes!" in the summer of 2010. Not surprisingly, Don spins to insert himself not only into the conversation, but into the race itself, the 2010 Asbury Park Mini-Triathlon (found out about the "mini" part afterwards). Awkwardly, Tim "Santa's Helper" McManus and JJ "The Deuce" O'Connor agree to share information on said race. In fact encouraging if not daring our hero to enter.

These are the chronicles of Don's path to glory, infamy, and perhaps the infirmary.

Chronicle Two - Jan 12
I was dealt a crushing blow to my training today. Perhaps more of a mental than physical setback. Though I have recovered from the initial pain of my first "training session", what mainly has driven me in my glorious quest for additional manhood, was the inner knowledge that I would kill in a mini-triathlon, whatever one of those might really be. It just seemed...well...doable. And despite my friend Jake's assertion that it is in fact he with the Kevin McHale running style that would hobble to the finish line in last place, a dead last loser, it is I who is now overcome with the fear that last place may be welcoming me and my Billy Joel waddle at the end of the race.

You see race fans, Santa's Helper informed me that I was mistaken on the distance of this race, and in a voraciously crushing way. Simply put, he replaced the word "mini" with "olympic." This is quite a leap. In fact, is there a bigger competitive leap?? So now where does this leave me?

Six months, i.e half a YEAR, seemed quite long enough to put myself into a decent enough condition to run 3 miles, bike 10, and swim 500 meters.'s like, run Rhode Island, bike Pennsylvania, and then swim the Mississippi Delta. And, unless this is pure rumor, I think there are giant eels in all three legs!

When I was a nerdly (hard to believe I know) young tyke in all of second grade, my Uncle Francis took me to my first professional baseball game. Fenway Park. It felt like the trip from the remote reaches of the Berkshires to the city life of Boston was an eternity. In fact, I couldn't believe at the time that we didn't need to fly there. I couldn't possibly have been more excited. Just as we left, my dad slipped my uncle some money so that I could grab a souvenir at the park. Needless to say, the experience was mesmerizing. It's been said many times in movie lore. but crossing that threshold from the bowels of a ballpark into the grand lights of the stadium is like that scene, always like that scene, in "Close Encounters" when the ufos finally land and open up their ship's bay doors to the silent gaffaws of the skinny 70's humans. I still silently gaffaw. No kidding.

Anyway, after the game, I nearly peed my pants running to the souvenir shop. Which, incidentally, would have helped me in the long run, because....

I of course NEEDED to buy not a Red Sox ball cap, a Red Sox jersey, a Red Sox jacket, some Red Sox baseball pants, but but BUT...all of them together. Yes, the full uniform. And hey, what would make me more popular at school the next day than if I arrived at the playground in the morning dressed it the whole rig. Not only a true Red Sox fan, but a true player! I imagined a slow Rudy clap begin as I proudly strutted onto the school grounds. A knowing look from my teacher Mrs. Filiaut that I, Donald DiLego Jr was so. very. awesome. Even though awesome was probably never a word yet. And also even though I didn't invent the word awesome. But I could have. And she would know it then and there.

We always played a pickup game of whiffle ball that time of year in the morning before school. God, I was gonna make the coolest impression. Almost there...rounding the corner...I can see Mack Head now...there's Paul...hey guys, "check it out!!!"

How do you spell "whah whahh whahhhhhhh..."?

I'm sure it couldn't have been the case, but I don't have the memory of anyone on that playground not laughing at me. It was 100% the true opposite of what I had expected. Completely miscalculated on every level. Couldn't have backfired any worse. I was immediately ridiculed. And though at the time I would have argued differently, I don't think my "transitions" glasses helped the scene any.

It was an unmitigated disaster. Driven from my first period class with a hunk of shame, I retreated to the boy's room, and disrobed as much as I could. I was left with sneakers, no socks, the Red Sox pants, a dirty white t-shirt, and a chubby gut. Man, what a scene. I cannot believe I didn't punch me. In fact, I don't think I ever really got this incident expunged from my permanent record. Seems some old friend or another manages to drudge this one up every so often. So here's what I'm saying. God forbid I show up to the triathlon in my undersized, fully outfiitted Red Sox uniform.

Or more importantly, I may have learned enough from that incident to be in a position to properly reassess my current situation. On the one hand, I don't want to bite off more than I can chew (not the full Red Sox uniform). But on the other hand, I want to prove my manly worth at the big race (full Red Sox uniform). They say you learn from your mistakes, and I friends, am no exception to this time-tested truth. I will not pull another full Red Sox uniform debacle once the triathlon roles around, for this time I will play it smarter. This time, I intend to march to the starting line not only with the proverbial full Red Sox baseball uniform, but also with an official Red Sox bat, ball, and game program. For THAT is what I must have been missing that wondrous spring day in 1978. The bat!

Watch out Santa's Helper and The Deuce and friend who runs like Kevin McHale. For I am wearing a full on, blown out 1978 Boston Red Sox kids-sized baseball uniform with official Carl Yazstremski signed bat and a pair of"transitions" sun shade glasses to the triathlon and I will toast you and your matching aqua friction-reducing speedos.

Hi Mrs. Filiaut!

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