Mock Turtle

I did a trial triathlon on Saturday, remarkably well, I might add. Which I attribute to lack of sleep, non-Atkins compliant food and alcohol.

I had a dinner of a cushion of cannelloni overstuffed with spinach upholstered in a neon pink béchamel velvet, washed down with a glass of Vernaccia from San Gimiagno (ah San Gimiagno), and followed by a glass of port (on the house. I think they offered it to every poor slob dining alone on a Friday night.) This all led to a restless, fitfill night of sleep, in part because I was worried I would oversleep and not get there on time.

Doing the mock tri (put on by the See Jane Tri folks) was Cherry’s idea. Half mile in Lake Anza, two loops to Inspiration Point for a 12 mile bike ride and then a run to the Brazil Room and back (3 miles.)

A very sleepy Celia managed to wake up, pack up and drive over to Cherry’s place near Berkeley to pick her up, yawning all the way. It’s been so long since I’d been to Tilden Park, Cherry had to navigate me block by block. It’s sad that I’ve been away from the East Bay for so long the map in my memory has faded. Chris showed up for just the run portion and moral support for us, and Tom came along for moral support for Chris (I don’t believe he had a choice.)

The swim was a good simulation for real triathlon conditions. Unlike the sedate and civilized order of a swimming pool blocked off into lanes, where the only inconvenience is being stuck in a lane with two other swimmers who bunch up with you like buses at rush hour, the open water swim leg of a triathlon involves people thrashing around you at all cardinal points, propelling ahead off kilter. It’s chaotic, but not deliberately malicious. If humans are descended from fish, we’ve lost that graceful instinct for swimming in synchronized schools without bumping into each other.

The bike ride. While my limbs and muscles were woken up by the swim, my brain was still not very awake. I took the wrong turn, or didn’t take a turn I was supposed to even on the second loop. Fortunately, I could correct my misnavigation by following the many speedier participants in the mock tri ahead of me.

Before starting the triathlon, I’d figured on not doing the run portion. 3 miles is so long. Wouldn’t I be too tired after the bike and swim? But I laced up my running shoes anyway, just to see how much I could do without collapsing from the dreaded bricks I’d heard so much about. Along with a few gulps of Gatorade, I had one of those sour green apple GU gels that puckered up my throat they were handing out at the transition area. “You’re supposed to wash that down with water,” suggested Chris helpfully. Unfortunately she mentioned this half mile after the water fountain. Perhaps it was the displacement, grimacing over taste, I felt no fatigue in my legs. I walked when I got out of breath, but then my sides would ache (stitches?), so I kept running.

So now I have actually completed a full sprint triathlon course (at a very leisurely pace), and am proud of myself. I guess I could have saved myself the fee if I hadn’t signed up for the Treasure Island triathlon in November. But in October, Cherry, Chris and I will each do a leg of a women’s triathlon in Napa (I be swimmin’). And this weekend, I’ll be doing the Swim-a-Mile fundraiser in Oakland (in a pool.) for the Women’s Cancer Resource Center. I honestly am not sure how I’ll do, will I complete a mile in an hour? My usual stint in the pool is half an hour, breast stroke one way, and free style the other. I don’t remember how many laps I get in that workout.

That same evening I went to see the Shan Wei Dance Company at Zellarbach Hall, the first show of the season for my Cal Performances subscription. The second piece was so gradual and stretched out it was excruciating to watch, I was squirming in my seat. On one hand, the slow-motion seems very technically challenging for the dancers. A string of pirouettes requires less effort than maintaining balance and control in a slow sweep. But as Shan Wei explained in the post-performance talk, that piece was about breathing. Which is interesting, as a viewer, I hardly think about the breathing of the dancers, maybe I’m more aware of the breathing of singers even. But breathing is fundamental to motion, be it dance or sport. (Maybe I should explore meditation. Isn’t it all about breathing?)

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