The doctor came and asked me if I felt bad.
I felt really bad like I was going to pass out and puke at the same time.
But I’m getting way ahead of myself. My real Ironman Austria saga really started about 72 hours earlier and 5000 miles away from Klagenfurt in Boulder with my stepfather who asked, as we drove to the airport to catch our flight to Europe, if we had our tickets?
We did, and if we had our passports…we did not.
It was at this exact moment that my real Ironman adventure began.
But let me cut to the chase for a second before I spill the beans on what turned into the Ironman journey of the damned to Austria.
There are three things that happened at the race that I will remember as long as I live:
3) Running across the finish line with my family as the announcer yelled “Roman Mica…you are an Ironman,” to the hoots and hollers of a grandstand full of half drunk Austrians. (It should be noted here that it is somewhat unusual to actually hear the words….Insert your name…you are an Ironman, as the announcer would have to say it about 2500 times during a typical race. This would not only get boring and painful to the gathered crowd but pretty tiresome pretty quick for all involved. I managed to hear those precious words as I, by sheer luck, happened to have befriended the English announcer of the race the night before.
2) Completing the entire bike portion of the race with zero, zip, nada mechanical and/or flat issues.
1) Coming back to my hotel room, running to the bathroom and opening my toiletry travel case and seeing the white and blue tube of Desitin (diaper rash ointment) sticking out of the inner pocket.
However, I can tell you that after a 180-kilometer bike (the race was in Europe after all) and marathon in 95-degree heat the boys got pretty raw and red. In fact the entire nether region with all the serious private parts was as red as a freshly boiled lobster.
The problem is that this chaffing issue with the boys or girl, for you female triathletes, is pretty common but often ignored as it really has no formal label that you can discuss without a wink and a giggle or two. So just like the conservative right has turned global warming into climate change, to make it less threatening and more socially acceptable, I now propose that we rename this very serious affliction to something much more acceptable.
I suggest we call it a “snake bike”
It not only sort of describes what happens when you rub something the wrong way for 8 hours, but more importantly it sounds pretty darn cool.
With this new label you can now have a very real and serious conversation with your fellow triathletes about how your race went. Here’s an example:
Triathlete #1: “So Jim how did the Disney half Ironman race go?”
Triathlete #2: “It went great Sandy, I kicked some Mickey butt…except that I got a really nasty snake bite on the bike.
Triathlete #1: “Ouch I hate when that happens. I got the same thing last week.”
Triathlete #2: “Wow what a coincidence Sandy, what race did it happen at?”
Triathlete #1: “It wasn’t during a race…come to think of it Jim let’s not go there. Nice weather we’re having!”
Back in Boulder 72-hours before the race I wasn’t thinking about Desitin or snakebites. I was wondering how we were going to get on the plane to Europe without passports.
We quickly returned home as we could not find the passports in the car and began to tear apart the entire contents of our well prepared bags on the front lawn. It kinda looked like a front lawn garage sale (you know when it is about noon and the garage sailors have torn into everything and you’ve given up trying to put it back in and sort of logical order). I sguess we lwere ucky as this was a Thursday or somebody would have asked me how much I wanted for the bike helmet. Sadly the passports were still missing.
At this point my well-laid plans and packing were out the window as I saw my second Ironman crash and burn before my eyes.
In hindsight I had made some pretty stupid travel decisions that would haunt me for the next two days. I opted to fly on Thursday for a Sunday race in Europe (remember that you lose a day traveling to the old world). This meant that we had no margin of error in our travel schedule. It also meant that I would race more or less completely jetlagged.
The latest you could check in for the race was on Saturday morning and our flight would only get us to Frankfurt on Friday afternoon. And Frankfurt is still 400-miles from Klagenfurt.
As we searched in vain for the missing passports my stomach began to do back flips and I wondered what IM triathlon Gods I had pissed off to deserve such a fate. Just as the situation looked the bleakest and we had given up making the flight and the trip my mom suggest that we check our other car.
And guess what? Three passports sparkled on the floor (were they had fallen from my wife’s purse) like diamonds in the rough. We stuffed the clothes back into the bags and jumped into my stepfather’s new Toyota. I flogged it mercilessly down the highway doing my best impression of Michael Schumacher on a tear at Monte Carlo. That is if Michael Schumacher drove an under-powered four cylinder blue SUV.
We made it to the airport by the skin of our teeth. But had I known that this was only the beginning of the journey of the damned I probably would have chucked the passports into the nearest garbage can and headed to airport bar for very cold and very tall beer.