Friday, March 30, 2012

(half) Ironman California Oceanside 70.3 tm ...

I've been involved with this race for 13 years now, ever since its inception in 2000.  I am not sure I would be living in San Diego if Kerri hadn't signed up for it.  We came down for the Carlsbad half that year, and then again for the race itself.  I fell in love with north county.  We met so many interesting and unusual friends, an eclectic ensemble of crazy characters.  I felt compelled to race it in 2001 and kept the streak going from 2002 through 2005 on the half course that rose from the ashes of Perry Rendina's fatal crash.  Rod Nesmith's funeral brought us all together, as did Scott Smith's untimely passing.  Babies were born, bones broken, bikes crashed.  Through these years, the yellow page has lived on, surviving as if it had its own pulse.  The page has become a virtual home for those of us who received one of Scrote's harley doo-rags and a few who didn't:

"The man the myth the legend. The Big Dog has eaten Again. let that hunger NEVER be satisfied. Who Loves ya Baby??????????????Thats right:-)))))) The IRONSCROTE:-)))"

That was a message to KP from 2006, I felt it to be an adequate representation of the man I remember meeting a few times and hearing about a lot.  Scrote embodied the spirit of the yellow page and his soul lives on in so many places in all of our hearts.

Requisite lame tri-geek belly photos from over a decade ago.  Why bother keeping your eyes open while running with wet feet?  What could possibly go wrong with that plan?

Ironman has long since lost its luster for me.  I just can't seem to get past how annoying it is to schlep so much darn crap all over the place and the ultimately futile attempts at keeping things clean and organized, even with the assistance of multiple sizes of ziplock bags.  After the 2005 race I switched sides and started working instead of racing, and I've been one of the run course captains ever since.  I've seen a few people come and go, and I've also seen a lot of the same faces return year after year to give freely of their time to ensure a smooth operation on race day.  It seems like groundhog day every year, as if I'm reliving the same experience over and over.

What do tanks and shaved legged tri geeks have in common?  Next to nothing.

Here's where the introspection comes out to play.  Typically for me, during a race, I'd start to get a feel for how things were going on the second half of the bike.  If I managed to hold it all together, I could usually count on a decent run since that's sort of the only thing I know how to do.  In 2001, the year these photos are from, after rolling through Perry's blood and seeing his body covered by a tarp, I lost my desire to race.  It all just seemed so callous and pointless, a man lay dying, mere feet from me and I was somehow supposed to keep pushing myself.  However, stopping seemed even worse, so I wandered through the rest of that day semi-aimlessly.

I know it looks like I'm leading the race, but  Tim and Tony are  about to make mincemeat out of me on their second lap while I struggle to start my first.

I got lapped by the lead men as I started the run and they headed out for their second lap.  I didn't seem to care much although I was happy for them.  I remember Natascha running with her hair out in a giant mane, truly an unusual sight.  Finally Roger caught me, on route to a PR and his first sub 11.  It was a good memory for both of us, and a reminder for me that I can always find something worth salvaging even in the midst of confusion and even when I feel lost or broken.  This same scenario would be repeated at Ironman Canada later that same year, only with a 5:18 run split and an extra hour on the finish clock.  At Canada, Roger ran well ahead and I was left with someone I met out on the course, who I wound up dragging through the final 10k, only to have him cramp up with 1/2 a mile to go and miss sub 12 by a hair.  It seems quite true that life's lessons are repeated until we pay attention and 2001 was definitely a year of lessons for me.

Roger and I almost holding hands at the finish. 

But back to working.  What I find most interesting about myself on this one particular day is how I wind up in this sort of in between role.  My job has never afforded me the freedom to spend an indulgent week measuring the course, identifying water sources for the aid station, marking the miles, and coordinating the necessary supplies.  Every year I freak out that it won't get done, every year there is someone who is capable and willing to deal with this.  For some strange reason, this week of the year always seems to kick my butt with work and everything else going on in my life.  So, every time I show up at oh dark thirty on race morning Saturday to collect my radio, I am always the #2 or #3 guy, never the #1.  I'm rarely even listed on the phone number list.  As of tomorrow it will be 7 consecutive shifts as one of the 3 run course captains, I'm a recognizable face and name to just about everyone, and yet I'm not the lead, I'm non alpha, and I really like it that way.  Yes, you can count on me.  Yes, you know I will give everything I have to give and then some on race day.  But I don't do a whole lot outside of race day because I simply don't have the bandwidth or desire to be more involved.

Ironically, I feel the same way about any aspirations I have to teach yoga.  I can't afford to spend my week planning a theme or preparing a flow, as much as I wish I could, and as much as I admire and respect those who do.  The opportunity cost of doing a bunch of preparation on a weekly basis simply isn't justifiable given all of the other things I'm already not doing which I really should be doing.  At the same time, I know I have vast excesses of enthusiasm which typically are bled off during the week by my workouts.  It would make a lot of sense to tap into this energy source for an hour a week to share that side of me with anyone interested in rolling out a sticky mat and sweating their nuts off.  The insecure side of me wonders how I'd feel if nobody showed up for my class.  The confident side of me knows that I can motivate, I can inspire, and I know how to kick my own ass so I can probably figure out how to help you kick yours.  I simply love those moments when I can share pain with my fellow humans, they bring me great joy.  I just haven't figured out the right formula yet.  I keep thinking about it though, and hoping that one day I'll find a solution to the equation.


  1. You will find a solution for this for sure. It will come, just offer it up(in a small sense of surrendering to patience) and one day you will roll out your mat and teach. Have a great day today!

  2. Great memories Dave. Your friends know that we can always count on you.

    NFL Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy said “Success is measured in changed lives, strong character and eternal values rather than in material gain, temporal achievement or status.” One of the best ways to facilitate those types of changes is through mentoring.

    Still, many of us feel a little uncomfortable when put in the position to teach. I try not to let that initial awkwardness keep me from experiencing some of the most important moments life has to offer.

    You are a born leader.

  3. getting older is so painful because what you're not reliving becomes just simple haunting.

    also, I think teachers are better when they're in touch with their own doubts..

  4. Dave - sorry I missed you on the course. Have nothing inspirational to say except keep moving forward. Great to see anyone still exploring new avenues and finding new passions.