Saturday, June 25, 2016

Esprit de She Race Report

Some people hate duathlons, but I think getting an rare opportunity to do one was a bonus. I liked duathlons and was used to the discomfort. With no swim, I was not left way behind by everyone else when the race has barely started. I wish more existed, but few people want to do them for reasons that are incomprehensible to me.

Esprit de She is usually a triathlon, but Tempe Town Lake had been drained to put in a new dam. Covering all the junk on the bottom with water again had taken too long to have a swim portion. The event was turned into a duathlon (run, bike, run), which suited me fine. The paralyzing terror of getting in the dirty Tempe Town Lake water in the awful early morning was avoided. Not having swim gear was a lot less crap to carry. It was disconcerting, though, somehow. I didn’t miss swimming in the murky lake, but I felt a little unsettled because it wasn’t the same routine as for a triathlon. It was less time to get ready and more time to worry about what I had forgotten. I failed to get an insulated water bottle for the bike. It was always something. I racked my foggy brain on what to do. I had a regular one, but the water would get warm. The bike ride was short, so I could get away with it and just suck it up.

Nope. Not getting in that water.
My memory also failed to recall how much a sprint race hurt, especially a duathlon. Pain, more pain, please kill me. I was soon reminded.

The start of the 1.6 mile run was a time trial with five people starting at a time on the pathway. It went quicker than I thought it would. I didn’t feel particularly energetic and couldn’t get my engine going. It was too early in the morning and my body wanted to go back to bed, not do something strenuous that required a lot of heavy breathing. I don’t know if I have ever started a duathlon this early at 6:30 a.m. I had some gel-- a sticky, drippy liquid nutrition sugar product-- beforehand, and it was probably a mistake because I had heartburn even though I had warmed up. Heartburn was a constant companion on runs and the stabbing chest sensation didn’t help my speed. My stomach was a bitch. After ten minutes of pain, it eased up.

The twelve mile bike ride hurt my legs. With all the beginners, I had to pass a lot of people, which was more effort than I wanted to make. I hummed along, then encountered a lumbering rider that forced me to speed up to go around. As usual, some of them had no concept of “blocking”. Two riders were blatantly riding two abreast, in the way of everyone. They were having a conversation of some sort, like this was a social outing. I guess the rules didn’t apply to them. I was glad I didn’t have to do the tedious route twice. The route through Tempe was rolling hills, but mostly flat with a freeway overpass thrown in. I must have done it before at least fifty times.

I was more awake for the second 1.69 mile run. As I was starting it, I encountered the 5k walkers across the path. What the f#@k?  It took me a minute to comprehend what the hell they were doing there. A 5k race was associated with the duathlon, but the herd was in no hurry and I was. Strolling along slowly in my way was rude, when I wanted to go hard and fast. Stay to the right you idiots! I passed someone in my age group, but I wasn’t sure. The secret to a duathlon is to not to die in the second run. A lot of people didn’t realize this and I used it to my advantage. They also didn’t know how excruciating the last run was, an experience I was all too familiar with. I was happy with the time result in spite of the walker blockade.

I felt like I usually do after a sprint–like I had been hit by a bus. Running and biking as hard as I can is  always a shock when I finally stopped. At least the weather was cool, so fainting from heat exhaustion could be avoided. The Mimosa I had made me feel a little light-headed, though. 

Incredibly, I was first in my age group, but I wasn’t sure how many were in it. It turned out that there were eleven and that I beat second place by six seconds. Shocking. I would have never done that if it had been a triathlon. 

Duathlons rule.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Nuclear Summer

In honor of the sun-blasted hell that is summer in Phoenix:

Atomic blast; white light explodes.
Nuclear summer.

Spiny Saguaros arms beseeching

Sad doves on the ground hang their heads.

Pavement shimmers and sears.
Streets empty.

Plants shrivel in cracked earth.
Leafy flesh drops off.

Snakes and small creatures hide
in their holes.

Mushroom clouds with no rain.
Dust detonation.

Mutant black bugs emerge.
Fly and die, legs up.

Cicada chorus sings of doom.
A winged death rattle.

A cloud tear drops, then disappears.

A flash of light in dark sky.
Distant rumble, then silence.

A lizard skitters across a hot block fence.

Oven wind blows circles of devil dirt.

Dirty grey, distant mountains.
Desert city of hell.

Nuclear summer.