Remember back with me…think back to when I blogged about swimming in Galveston last year. How they started the relay with the 18-20 year olds…How a nice young man insisted I start to the side so I wouldn’t drown. How another nice young man on a kayak paddled right next to me…so I wouldn’t drown. Think about how I SWORE for the second year I wouldn’t swim in salt water again. Now join me in reality as I am driving to Galveston this weekend to ONCE AGAIN handle the swim leg for Team Ironhead.
Let’s back up and reflect on how in my IM I swam twice the distance at approximately 45 minutes for each half. I was really looking forward to this swim. Add to the mix that another team of Ironheand racers (who registered as “Team Ironhead A Team”- the ballsy fuckers) were ready to compete in a good natured way with our rag tag team of warriors. The swimmer was strong- I knew he’d come out at least ten ahead of me. But the biker and runner were pretty average, so I didn’t have to put Shawna or Jack into full on “kill” mode. It was just good natured fun, right? Wrong.
So, we are headed to Galveston, as we always are, with the Mercedes convertible, a good dose of hair band anthems and 80’s music, and Sasha, my chunky dog mascot, in the car. Shawna and I were having a blast and really looking forward to the “noncompetitive” race. We get the to the expo, register, and head back to the room. That’s when things begin to go horribly wrong.
Let’s start with Shawna has a stress fracture in her foot from drunkenly jumping orange cones at mile 24 of the New Orleans Marathon. YEAH YEAH I know. That was our responsibility. But, she could run a comfortable 10 minute mile. And, after all, it wasn’t going to be competitive, right?
We get to the room and I am immediately nauseous and hot. I lay down on the bed and Shawna starts with “I’m hungry.” I was like “give me twenty minutes to rest, ok?” To which she responds “I’m hungry.”
In her defense, Shawna does not really get hungry often. So when she says she is hungry, she is just this side of cannibalizing me. So, in defense of my own extremely juicy butt, I rallied and we headed to the Spot for burgers and, theoretically, drinks.
Yeah, did not happen. By the time we got there, I was so hot and nauseous I just sat there and stared at the delicious fried sampler platter Shawna ordered. I think you all know that this chunky girl can eat some wings and fried pickles. But all I wanted to do was lay down. Thankfully, Shawna quickly recognized I was in trouble, gulped her half cow blue cheese burger down, and took me home.
When I got to the room…(NOTE: NOW IS THE TIME FOR THOSE WITH WEAK STOMACHS TO BACK AWAY FROM THIS STORY…LEAVE….IT’S NOT PRETTY….I REALLY CAN’T WARN YOU TOO MUCH HERE. IT’S BAD)
When I got back to the room, it was coming out both ends. I had about a 102 fever and cramps. I curled into the fetal position and Sasha immediately wanted to take care of me by laying on my stomach. That dog is not thin. Sorry Shawna. At that point Sasha weighed about 140 pounds.
I slept from 5:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. The only interaction I had was when Shawna told me Lezley Maloy had said I should “get it together” cause she didn’t want to swim. I kept telling myself it would pass, I’d be ok in the morning. In the mean time, every time I woke up Shawna was watching “Chopped” and the television was talking about cooking smoked eel or pig livers. Oh my god….terrible.
Well we woke up at 4:30 a.m. and frankly I did feel a little better. I was really tired and dehydrated and crampy, but the fever was gone. So, I opted out of having Sasha swim for me, and suited up to do my part for Team Ironhead relay. The real one. Not so called Team “A”.
When we arrived at the tent, I was made award of two things. First, the biker and runner previously assigned to race for “Team A” had been replaced by two extremely competitive athletes. Last minute ringers? Really? If I’d know, I could have flown Nicole down to smoke you one the swim, Jason, by like twenty minutes. (please see where Nicole swims the half iron distance in 23 minutes). But no…this is now WAR! Shawna with her broken foot is now running against a fast 22 year old. Me with my poopy butt? I’m still swimming against super fast Jason Maloy. But wait, we still have smoking fast Jack Weiss, right? Ironman hall of famer? Ummm
So apparently the night before, Jack’s to giant Akita dogs get into a fight and he gets the shit bitten out of his leg. So now we are officially the wounded warriors.
I’m lying on the concrete in the fetal position when Jack comes up to me. I always wonder why these two let me swim for them, cause let’s face it, I’m not very fast. And I was really looking forward to being in at 42-45 minutes this year. I wanted Jack to be proud of me for once for my swim. But it wasn’t going to happen. So I looked at him from the ground where I’m cramping like crazy and pale as a sheet and said, “I’m sorry. I’m not going to be very good. You guys are going to have to make up a lot of time.” And Jack Weiss, one of the most competitive people I know, says, “Just do the best you can. It’s fine.”
That was awesome. It actually kind of lifted my spirits and I felt better as I approached the water for the start with Jason by my side. Crampy but better.
I had a lot of hope. I had violated the port a potty at least five times before getting in the water. And, even though I was dehydrated and sick, I felt like I could gut through the swim without “incident”.
As we were waiting to get in (with the freaking 18-20 year olds again) Jason proceeds to tell me how a guy drowned when he did Escape from Alcatraz this year. Nice. Drowning stories are always the best before a swim. Psychological warfare maybe? Nah, Jason is too nice.
So in the cool water we go. Frankly, it feels good cause I am sweating with a tiny fever recurrence. The buzzer sounds and off we go.
I feel smooth and comfortable with the pack for the first five buoys. My heart rate is sky high, probably because I’m nervous, but I feel strong and confident in my swim and I’m not even breathing hard.
And that’s when it happens.
I reach my right hand out to pull and turn to breath and every single muscle in my stomach cramps and delivers a single message…
“It’s gonna happen Betsy.”
I stroke on for about ten more pulls. But my body is clear in what it’s saying. I’m either going to poop myself or dnf. There will be no suppressing this movement.
I closed my eyes and thought about what my friend Jules had told me. About how world champion female triathlete Chrissie Wellington pooped herself several times in races in the water. And I think, fuck it, if it’s good enough for Chrissie, it’s good enough for ole turtle Parmer. Besides, I was basically releasing water at that point the virus was so bad. So what the hell. I was NOT going to DNF if I could help it.
SOOOO…I tried to just do it, but for some reason couldn’t while I was swimming. I signaled a kayak (they weren’t actually following me this year) and he paddled over. I grabbed the kayak and pretended to drain water from my goggles. That poor kid. If he had only known, I’m sure he wouldn’t have dangled his feet over the side.
After that little five minute break, I was home free. It was still terrible- the nausea, the cramping, the dehydration…all combined with that distinct taste of salt water in my mouth to make me want to quit.
I emerged in a TERRIBLE 54 minutes and almost passed out trying to get to Jack to transfer the chip. Only to find Kerby- the biker who had backed out for Team A there mocking me for giving them a 15 minute lead. Basically at that point if he hadn’t been on the other side of the fence, I would have pooped on him. Live and in person. But, I opted for “at least I did the race”- Sorry Kerby, I know you were teasing.
Besides, it didn’t matter. Ole dog bite Jack made up all but four minutes on the bike against a kid half his age- riding at 22mph. And Gimpy Gibson smacked her opponent on the butt and said “go fast, cause I’m on your ass” and passed her in the first mile. They never looked back.
Team A? I don’t think so. 🙂
I started to feel better and finally got down some crackers, and ultimately later in the day, a hot dog donated by Tim Tarpley and Trident- who were our neighbors on the course, which rocked. Then we headed home, my shame a mere memory, right?
Wrong. My team has coined a new term- pulling a “Parmer.” Which presumably they mean pooping yourself in a race. Rat Bastards. But, I choose to think of pulling a “Parmer” as having enough heart, even when you are not particularly fasts, to not want that DNF (did not finish) on your race record ever.
You know that old t-shirt “Death before DNF” ? I’m making a new one-
“Pulling a Parmer: Def (as in defecate) before DNF!”
Here I am last night…alive and well.