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Rookie Move

I’d forgive you for thinking, after reading this post, that I concoct ridiculous scenarios just so I will have something to write about. I kind of wish that were true. But no. I just make bad decisions, or I don’t think things through, or I have bad luck. And sometimes I’m really just a bona fide bumbling idiot.

If you’ve been reading the last few posts, you’ll know that I had shingles recently. You might also know that I got shingles only six days before my first running race of the season. Did I toe the start line, you may be wondering?

You’re darn right I did.

Now, you may be like some of my running friends who thought I was awesome and tough for doing the race with shingles. Or you might be like my sister-in-law, who wrote to me: “You raced while shingling?! You know that sounds nuts, right?”

Yes, I guess it does sound slightly nuts. Would it help if I told you that my doctors said it was fine? No?

To be honest, my biggest concern for the race was what to do about the hideous, flaking rash on my neck. I dug up a red bandana from my son’s Toy Story “Woody” costume (no lie), thinking I’d wear that around my neck and joke about bandit racing. I contemplated gauze and medical tape, but thought that a huge piece of gauze on my throat may raise just a few alarm bells. I considered makeup, but then realized that heat, sweat, and gobs of makeup do not make for happy bedfellows. In the end I decided to just leave it alone and reassure those around me that I wasn’t a leper.

The race went surprisingly well. Not a personal best by any means, but I did come nineteenth out of over nine hundred women in my age group. A shingles record, perhaps?

But the real highlight of the last few weeks came just this past weekend, when I decided to do an open water swim workout for the first time in years. Since my big Vancouver triathlon is coming up soon, and I had a sprint triathlon "practice race" scheduled, I figured it was time to practice swimming without lines on the bottom of the pool telling me where to go.

I borrowed a wetsuit from a generous friend and got up early to hit the lake on Sunday morning, when lots of swimmers are always out there. Since I’d never put on a wetsuit before, and I really did not want to embarrass myself in front of a bunch of seasoned triathletes, I went into the change room where it was nearly pitch black (due to a burnt out light bulb).

I’m betting that maneuvering your body into a wetsuit is tricky at the best of times, but I squirmed and stuffed myself into that thing while barely being able to see. I was actually pretty impressed with myself.

Emerging onto the beach, all slick and pro-looking in my cool wetsuit, I felt like a real triathlete at last. I even remember thinking it was kind of nice that my wetsuit was blue, instead of the usual black.

When I emerged from my first loop of the lake, I was standing beside another swimmer ready to go again when she looked at me and said: “Is there some sort of advantage to having your wetsuit on inside out?”

Yep. This actually happened.

Now, I really wish I had been thinking fast enough to come up with a confident remark like, “Oh yes, I swim way faster this way!” But I just blurted out: “It’s inside out?!” To which she blurted out: “You didn’t know?! The blue goes on the inside!"

We made a good joke of it and I explained about the dark change room. I acted all cool, like it was totally no big deal, when in reality I wanted to drown myself in the murky lake. I have never been so mortified. Ever. (So much for looking all slick and professional.)

I took off around the lake again anyway. That blasted thing was hard enough to get on the first time. I wasn’t about to flip it around and try donning it properly while sopping wet. I swam hard and fast, trying to prove somehow that I wasn’t a total loser. When I returned to the shore, I pulled the wetsuit off underwater before walking onto the beach. At least I knew enough to wear a swimsuit underneath. There is that.

Back in the change room, I was almost dressed when a woman came in chatting with a friend. They both remarked on how dark it was in there, and then she said: “Well, you can kind of understand how that woman got her wetsuit inside out if she changed in here.”

I just smiled and high-tailed it out of there. Thankfully, in the dark and without the swim cap and goggles, they had no idea that moronic woman was me.

But really, the very best part of the story is that this triathlete and her friends saw my inside-out wetsuit, and instead of snickering and assuming that I was an idiot, they thought that I must have done it on purpose and wondered if there was some sort of performance benefit.

Because really, who wouldn’t know that her wetsuit was inside out? Who?!?

And also, I have to ask… is there any other sport in which someone might wear something obviously backwards or inside out, and other athletes would wonder if there is a secret benefit to such a ridiculous mistake? I love triathletes.

So thank you, kind women at Meech Lake, for assuming that I was a savvy triathlete with a secret trick, and not just a complete ignoramus.

Maybe we can be friends?

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