Songs that…

Here are some playlists I have made over the past week or so. I have listened to all these songs so many times it would drive anyone else insane and they still produce the same feelings for me. Some I have known for years, some for weeks. But they all are very special for some reason or another. So I figured I would make a playlist to attempt to summarize the overwhelming feelings each one gives me eveytime I listen. It is not surprising that some artists have produced a couple of songs I feel are worthy for these playlists.

Understanding my knowledge of the music world is very limited, I still do feel these songs came to me for a reason. Most of them are free to listen to on youtube or myspace if you desire sampling.

Songs that make me feel alive

“Passing By”- Zero 7

“Mad World”- Gary Jules

“Requiem for a Tower”- Clint Mansell

“Teardrop” and “Angel”- Massive Attack

“Prophecies” and “Opening” -Philip Glass

“Something So Right” -Paul Simon

“How it Ends” and “The Last Beat of my Heart”-Devotchka

“Where are you Going?” -Dave Matthews Band

“New Slang” -The Shins

“Clay Pigeons” -John Prine

“The Ballad of Love and Hate” -The Avett Brothers

“The End to…” -Holy Ghost Tent Revival

“16…Maybe Less” -Iron and Wine

“Two Boys” -The Itchy Hearts

“The Simplest Thing” -Hey Rosetta!

“Gassenhauer” -Carl Orff

Songs that make me happy

“Happy Happy” -Spookie Daly Pride

“No Rain” -Blind Melon

“Stir it Up”- Bob Marley

Songs that say “I ain’t happy” but still make me happy

“Clint Eastwood”- Gorillaz

Songs that I run to

“The Modern Age” -The Strokes

“Vagabond” -Wolfmother

“The Middle” -Jimmy Eat World

“Taper Jean Girl” -Kings of Leon

“Flagpole Sitta” -Harvey Danger

“Very Loud” -Shout out Louds

“Fortunate Son” -Creedence Clearwater Revival

“Bitter Sweet Symphony” -The Verve

“Lex” -Ratatat

“Black Betty” – Ram Jam

Songs that I like but probably shouldn’t because I wouldn’t want to get caught listening to them by anyone…

“Thugz Mansion” -Tupac

“Don’t Know Why” Norah Jones

“Everything’s Not Lost” -Coldplay

“I Love my Sex” -Benny Benassi

“Strict Machine” -Goldfrapp

Songs that make me sad

“Hung my Head” -Johnny Cash

“Sleep” -The Dandy Warhols

Songs that creep me out

“And I thought my Jokes were Bad” -Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard

“House of the Rising Sun” -Animals

to be continued,

Grayson Cobb

Reaching beyond myself

This past weekend I attended a training camp with Endorphin Fitness coached by Sally Fraser and Michael Harlow. Michael and I set off to Wintergreen, Virginia on Friday morning. After driving the next day’s bike course, we met the rest of the camp participants at a lake at the bottom of the mountain for an afternoon swim.

My first excitement was with a floating trampoline near the shore of the lake. I asked Michael “How many minutes did you have on my training plan for jumping on the trampoline today?” After entertaining myself for a few minutes I got to the real reason I came here and began swimming. The water was glass smooth and REALLY cold. And I got a wicked wetsuit hickey.

A post swim ten mile run took it out of me. The guys kept making me laugh when I was running. Michael’s shorts were falling down, I had wicked gas, and the guys seemed to make everything funny. Running and laughing is not a good combination for me. So it was either run with them, laugh, and get dropped, or set the pace and either make it so they cannot talk or they’re too far behind to hear them. Dropping the pace down to 6:40 pace killed their motivation to crack jokes.

All the ten mile runners gathered for a post run ice bath in the lake. I have never seen such a vast body of water so glass smooth. I poked my finger in the water and watched the ripples ride along the surface for several meters. For the first time in the day, the sun shone out of a corner of a cloud just over a mountaintop, providing me with a little warmth. I felt at absolute peace standing in this lake at the bottom of the mountain with no stranger in sight and the sun breaking the bleakness that had preceded.

This feeling was soon destroyed by my hatred for the law of gravity. The waterfall I had admired while driving the bike course the day before turned from being amazingly beautiful to amazingly aggravating. My admiration for the winding falls beside me quickly turned into a plain focus on reaching the top of a mountain during the long bike the next day. I would watch every drop of the water ahead of me and realize that was how much farther I had to climb. The water seemed to fall forever and I seemed to be climbing forever.

Up on the Blue Ridge Parkway the sun shone, the climbs were short, and the view seemed infinite. A massive group of touring cyclists aggravated the crap out of us for mile upon mile up on the highway. They made for good jokes and good confidence boosters. Towards the end of the loop we rode down wintergreen mountain. I reached a personal speed record on a bike at 58 mph.

Michael had told me I was supposed to cut off at fifty miles, one loop, and jump into the sag but that fifty soon turned to 3.5 hours turned to seventy-five miles. I was cool with that. My body wasn’t too happy with having run out of water and nutrition ten miles ago but seeing the sag truck for the first time in hours was a pleasant enough sight to dampen the pain in my legs and the aching in my stomach. I almost destroyed an entire pan of cookie brownie sparking questions later in the evening about how that night’s desert disappeared. Whoops.

The next day’s lineup consisted of a thirty mile mountainous fast ride ending with a three mile run up wintergreen mountain to finish the weekend off. I felt good so I hammered the bike with no regard for the other guys and the run to follow. Tyler, one of the guys at the camp had his revenge on the run. He caught me before the top after starting minutes behind me. Oh yeah and he had to run twice the distance as me. And he had run twenty miles on Friday when I had only run ten.

The slowest three miles for me for four years. After a quick clean up we headed home. A solid weekend of training to solid week of recovery before the Xterra off-road triathlon. Looking at my calendar for this coming week is kind of daunting. Eight races in two weeks. Two tri’s and six cycling races. We’ll see how it goes.

A different kind of test

Test day! No I’m not waking up at 6:15 to go take the SAT’s. My alarm wakes me for a much exciting type of test: VO2 max testing! Have you ever tried running or biking as fast as you can until you absolutely cannot hold that pace anymore? It’s so much fun and its so miserable.

I wear a mask that filters my breathing into a machine that measures my consumption of oxygen, hence volume of oxygen max test. Two years ago I matched Lance Armstrong. Tomorrow may produce different results. Wish me luck!

I think the number 19 fits me

The night before my my mom caught me rambling about all the reasons why I should have a great race the next day. I kept telling her “I know I always tell you I feel like I can win it but I REALLY feel good about this race in the morning”. I don’t know if she believed me but I was right.

Since I grew up from being young and chubby, I have not known what it was like to be really flat. The beginning of this season I was far from the triathlete that I, my parents, my coach, and all my competitors were used to seeing. I was mediocre in every discipline. And just to make the situation seem even worse, I was training really hard and not seeing any improvement. It was not as if I was sitting on the couch and expecting improvement.

The day of my birthday I finally felt different. For three months I was flat. But I was confident that the next day would show different results.

Immediately upon entering the transition area, I heard thunder. I turned around to see an enormous thunder cloud hanging nearby. Within minutes it seemed the whole sky fell on us. The race was immediately postponed thirty minutes.

Despite the change of plans, the goal was still the same. I wanted to end my reign of getting third in this race. Thanks to my mental coach, Dana Blackmer, I was trained to not lose my concentration with this distraction.

In the pool, I cruised. My flip turns were easy and I felt completely comfortable in the water.

On the road I was soon passed by a faster cyclist and I did not let him out of my sight for the rest of the ride.

In transition I struggled with putting on new flimsy racing flats and a cluster of riders on my same rack.

Expecting cramps and heavy legs like I had in my earlier season races, I was surprised to find my legs effortlessly flowing under me on the run. Startled, I picked up the pace and did not slow.

After making the last turn on the way back to the finish, my body decided to finally fight back. I unpleasantly dry heaved for the last quarter mile.

The fifty year old winner and I covered the two ends of the age spectrum.

Finally I could say it. I’m back. It was a personal record for me on this course by over a minute.

Later that afternoon, I raced a thirty mile local cycling race. At the start of the last 1.3 mile lap, I made a move but it did not stick. I was reeled in and finished the race at the back of the field. My teammate won the race.

A good celebration of the first day as a nineteen year old.

One

In the morning I race. Seven hours from now I will be out on the course hammering the life out of me trying to make it swimming, biking, and running over a distance faster than anyone else that day. It should be fun.

Third. That is the place I came in the race the last two years. First. That is the place I hope to come in tomorrow. Physical training from Endorphin Fitness, mental training from coach Dana Blackmer with The Extra Gear, and nutrition may lead me to a win. Of course that all relies on the other factor, desire. Willingness to suffer immense amounts of pain and stress on the verge of my body literally shutting down.

The saying “leave it all on the course” becomes true for me. At the finish of most races I either literally spill “it all” on the course, or I have truthfully left all my energy and effort on the course. Sometimes I fall, sometimes I faint, sometimes I just know that I could not have physically gone any faster.

Tomorrow I race. I’m beginning to hate that number three. I could get used to the number one though.

Dream big

Since I managed to get my license restricted, my mom helped me run some errands today. First we went to Target looking for some 3M strips. Success. Second we went to DMV to get my new license printed with my restrictions. I am allowed to drive to “work”, community service, and school. Well, the court accidentally forgot to check the box saying I could drive to work. Fabulous. I just love DMV so much that I get to go back for a third time in a month. Next up: Blue Ridge Mountain Sports to get my new pack for next year’s adventure. They forgot to order it. One out of three successful. This epic day of failure is deserving of a ginormous set of Chipotle tacos huh? Yep.

I remember Blacksburg. I remember the awful weather. I remember the bitter cold and I certainly remember the mass quantities of precipitation that fall on that place. But, in all honesty I cannot compare it to hell (no matter how hellish it seems). Because, in the midst of all the snot-sicles and frozen toes, water logged shoes and soaked clothes, I remember the occasional break in the clouds. I remember throwing the frisbee on the drillfield with my friends. I remember standing on top of a local hill watching the sun set over the mountains. I remember walks around campus and I remember riding my Schwinn Stingray and my big wheel around campus.

I dream of racing. I dream of winning. Today I thought about growing old. I imagined what it would be like to descend the slopes of aging that lie beyond my prime years. And I thought of how I would feel if I had not attempted to chase my dreams. It sounds so cliche. It makes me cringe seeing it written: “chase my dreams”. Ugh.

But in all honesty it is a truth to life. Eventually, we will all have to consider if following a dream is wise. “Eventually” is not a very fitting word because most of the decisions of whether or not to chase those dreams have already occurred for those of us above the age of ten. Some of those dreams that we have rejected, we may look back on and think, “Whew! I am so glad I didn’t try that!” but what is the feeling when we realized we did not follow a dream. Can that feeling be put into words? Is it sorrow? Is it despair; utter regret of that decision we consider a mistake? Can it be called a mistake or is it simply a decision that was made in the past that led us to something in the future?

Today I rode after the rain had settled in the soil and the cracks on the street. The thin layer of moisture still laying on the road’s surface evaporated beneath me, giving a thick scent and heavy humidity. The air felt thick, my breathing felt labored, and worst of all after a few minutes of easy riding I was already bathed in my own sweat.

But I cruised gently and joyfully with the most ease and comfort I have felt on a bicycle this year. For some reason it was then I realized how I would feel if I did not chase a particular dream I have had since I won my first race. It is of chasing down the leaders of every race. The dream is of competing at an extremely high level, of racing in professional races; of racing against the best, of being the best; of competing in world championships, of being a world champion.

I am curious about how the saying world champion came about. Mostly we do not question it. I ever did until now. It sounds funny: champion of the world. Seems sort of like climbers who claim the “conquered the mountain”.

There is not a day that I do not think about racing professionally. But in this life, dreams don’t just come true. There are sacrifices. And with this dream there are huge sacrifices that I may not want to make. Is all the training and stress on my body, all the traveling, and the absurdity of profiting on racing really worth an attempt at achieving the dream I have?

But the feeling I had imagining having not at least attempted following this path was too much for me to handle. I do not want to ever experience that. So for now, the chance of regret outweighs the sacrifices.

My brother is setting out on tour with his new band soon. I guess he had the same questions for himself that every band member has. Is all the travel and low key gigs really worth the possibility of one day playing for thousands? There’s no way he could just be doing it for fun. It’s too hard to be good at something and not dream big dreams.

Maybe someday the dream will present itself as reality. Maybe.

Living in transition

This week is a taper week. Its killing me. I’m supposed to take it easy for every workout. I just want to get out on my mountain bike and hammer it hard. I even dream of hammering, ripping my legs to shreds. I love the feeling of getting home after a hard ride or run and sitting down on the carpet with a recovery drinks that tastes like a mix of my own fecal matter (and looks it to) and stretching my sore legs out.

On Sunday is Power sprint triathlon in Richmond. This will be my third time racing it. Both times I finished third overall. I hope for something more this year, but with the athletes on my team having outdone me earlier in the season, that goal may be difficult. I have started off slow this season and I hope this will be my break through race. Rocketts turned out to not be that race so maybe this one will.

It is my birthday on Saturday but my mom and I decided to shift it to Sunday so that I will be able to eat cake. My new backpack for hiking the Appalachian trail will come in soon and so will my new Kazane road bike frame.

The day of Powersprint there is also a cycling race in Richmond. I may attempt to race the afternoon race after my triathlon. If I do not do well in the tri I may want to race again to redeem myself. Graeme Obree set the World one hour record on sore legs the day after his first attempt. Maybe I could do that on a lesser scale.

For now I run

My shadow is always faster than me. No matter what, he starts from behind, runs along side me for a moment, and then passes with no effort. I guess he is weightless after all, that probably helps.

The light taps of me feet fades from my attention easily. The taps are unnoticed by some and startle them. I pass by dogs in their fences without waking them.

I feel my shoulders loose, float back and forth, back and forth a thousand times.

My legs gently float underneath me and I simply glide on the surface of the road. Pit-pat, pit-pat. Effortlessly I pass by the silent world around me.

My light huffing can be silenced if I concentrate but its rhythm keeps me on track.

I run in the middle of the two lanes, staring into the distance. There are no cars. During the day I would be plastered on the road by now, probably no more than an inch thick. But now it’s peaceful. Between the streetlights I have no shadow. I run alone. Pit-pat.

People sometimes ask me if I get lonely. I simply remind them of how I was the baby that when woke, would lay in the crib for hours with no crying. I was the child that when I received a K-nex set for Christmas or my birthday, the construction would take place for hours straight, sometimes through the night, until the pieces formed a masterpiece. At school this year I had few refuges to which I could enjoy the company of solely myself. And even at home it seems the story is no different. In the city I cannot be alone while running unless I do it at night.

I am no hermit. I love people. I love company. But sometimes company does not need to be defined by human interaction. The world is a beautiful playground and our desire for constant interaction blinds us from that sometimes. If we are not with people, we are playing with our electronics. I admit I am just the same sometimes.

But for now I run alone. Some of the things I have seen humans do overwhelms me with fear. And for now I am incapable of grasping the corruption in the human race. So for now I run away. Maybe in time I will see. Maybe in time I will realize whether life is just a game like it seems through so many college students eyes. Life does not seem like a game though. It seems real, with real consequences, and real problems. So I wonder what my place is. Seeing as interaction is only bringing me stress, maybe solitude will bring an answer.

Maggie and me


About seven years ago my family decided we had waited long enough after our last dog’s passing.

We found the perfect dog quickly. She was a long haired dachshund with a fiery temper and a total disinterest in us. To be honest I have absolutely no idea what attracted us to her. We brought her home on my brother’s birthday, soon to be declared a shared birthday. We did not know her age but we estimate she was about seven.

She, having been a dog solely used for breeding for most of her life, was not accustomed to the ways of a house. She could absolutely care less about what we wanted. We would call “Come here Maggie!” and she would glance out of the corner of her eye at us, and continue about her business. If we tried to pick her up against her will, she never hesitated to express herself less than peaceful.

Needless to say, she warmed up to us quickly. She fit right in. She was short, we’re all short. A match made in heaven. The disinterest in listening to us never stopped though. She was her own dog and she did what she wanted to do. We respected that and she usually respected not to push our tolerance.

Often I would here my mom calling up to me that Maggie had run away and she needed my help to go get her. The word run is not very fitting for those occasions however. Maggie typically would mozie off at a pace that could barely be called walking. Typically we would find her the next house down and even once she had not even ventured off our property. She could be gone for an hour and would only be a block down. Her sniffing was always the hold up. Walking her was torture because of her inability to leave a scent unsmelled.

Before Maggie grew into the family she did find it amusing to make a legitimate break for it occasionally. Thankfully she was a stocky fat little girl and while her leg length to speed ratio far outdid ours, we could always chase her down. One time my dad, my brother and I decided to let her off the leash on the beach. She was scared to death of water so we knew that wasn’t an outlet, and there was a wall on the land side of the beach. My brother and I waited a hundred yards down the beach while my dad let the beast off her leash. Unrestricted, she booked it right at us and thinking we had her trapped, she juked us out at the last second. I ended up tackling her later on down the beach to prevent the true escape of Maggie Cobb.

But soon she was conscious of how great life was with us. She loved it. She loved every second of it. One year after a snow storm my sister and I played in the snow with Maggie. She always seemed to get a thrill of walking around in things that were taller that her. She loved monkey grass I guess for the thrill of a jungle like exploration. Everything’s bigger when you’re a foot tall. She absolutely loved the snow, at least until she ran smack into the curb. She stood up shook herself off, looked up at me as if to say “What, you mean to tell me you’ve never walked into anything?” This was a routine she had already established from leaf piles on the side of the road.

She had an attitude to her that I’ve never seen in an animal. She was a royal princess. She had the life of a princess, that’s for sure. She got to visit the Florida keys, Snowshoe, and Virginia Beach regularly for extended stays. And she loved it. She loved the thrill of new sniffs, and new territories to roam and new animals to chase. In Florida she got to chase me and my dad around the dock trying to catch our newly caught fish. At the beach she chased seagulls with an absolute vengeance set on catching those birds. In snowshoe the deer supplied her with a days full of barks.

One winter at Snowshoe, when my dad released the beast for her regular chasing of the deer, a deer decided this puny dog wasn’t worth running from. After the deer stomped its foot at Maggie, she returned inside with a sore pride. I could not let this down. After seeing my dog walk around the house for days with her head down, unwilling to chase or even bark at the deer outside, I decided to do justice to the deer that commited this crime against my little sister. I ran out the front door just as she usually would and chased them into the woods. Justice was served. Law was restored on the Cobb premices at Snowshoe. I returned back in a gave Maggie an extended belly rub, our version of a high five.

Maggie had an obsession with belly rubs. I swear I saw her on her back more than I did on her feet. Maybe my family just gives wicked good belly rubs, I don’t know. Sometimes to keep Maggie on her toes, my mom would give me a belly rub instead of Maggie. I know, I know criminal. Maggie would walk up and lay her head on my stomach, looking up at my mom with sad puppy dog eyes. If my mom would continue, she would make her best attempt at interfering with the action of belly rubbing, typically by standing ontop of me. If that did not work, she would harrass my mom with barking and glaring. It wouldn’t take long for the sympathy of me and my mom to outweigh our silliness.

Honeslty, the dog had mastered the art of the glare. She would turn her head to the side and look at you out of the corner of her eye. I’ve never been so intimidated in my life, not even by a human, as when that dog would glare at me.

But just as that dog was out to protect the law of unlimited belly rubs solely for her, she felt the need to prevent fights in the house. We initially discovered Maggie’s upholding of the law of the house when my dad gave a very rare and unexpected hug to my mom. Maggie was appalled! What was this thing he was doing to her mother? Was he hurting her? Maggie ran up and in a barking fury, nipped at my dad’s socks. So, being the cruel jokesters we are, we took advantage of Maggie’s vigilante trait. My dad would fake beat on me while I would scream for the help of the one and only John Wayne in our house. Maggie would run to my rescue, and sometimes not knowing who the true victim was, she would nip at my ankles. Geez she needed to understand fair trial before punishment.

Headstrong as she was, she felt no intimidation from her worst enemy. Joggers and bicyclists. Those jerks. I always loved seeing Maggie scare joggers and cyclists. Call me sick but I call them pansies.. At a foot high she probably couldn’t even give a bruise with her old lady teeth. Yet with absolutely no hint of fear, her short dog’s complex would set in and she would defend her turf, which seemed to be about every square inch as far as her eyes could see wherever she may be.

One of the many times her fearlessness brought her trouble, her height actually saved her life. My brother and I were walking her around our neighborhood and with a retractable leash, she was able to have some sense of freedom. A cyclist rode by and while I was quick enough to push the button to stop her from eating spokes, she was already a good enough distance to eat the underside of a following car. I though for sure my dog was dead, but she came up from behind the right front wheel unscathed. Stunned, but unharmed she stumbled away, looking back at the car like it was something she had never seen before.

For my senior spring break, my mom and dad, Maggie and I all road tripped it to the Florida keys. An old maid, Maggie acted like a puppy the whole week. She ran back and forth on the dock as I reeled in fish and jumped clear into the air trying to catch the hooked fish flying above her head. She had a countless number of rides in the golf cart, ears flapping in the wind. And she sure enjoyed her sniffing raids, scanning all the neighborhood’s smells at a block an hour. She loved it. And she saved the best for last.

There was no fade out in Maggie’s life. She lived till she died. On the drive home, with a simple yelp, she was gone.

Tonight I watched the movie “Marley and Me”. Laughing at all the antics of Marley, I sat there with my hand on one of my two new crazy nutcase dogs. Much of my giggling was at relating Marley’s antics to those of my new dogs. However, towards the end of the movie the lives of the two dogs laying with me became irrelevant. I could not relate the movie to them anymore. All I could think about now was Maggie.

I stood up and left. I miss Maggie. I miss her terribly. While I would never forget Maggie, I wish I could say I appreciate the joy she brought to me when she was with me and leave it at that. I miss the long haired dachshund that I grew up with for seven years. I miss her sass and I miss her stubbornness. I miss the princess that the house revolved around. And I miss my protector, my vigilante dog that protected me against all that’s wrong, and some that’s perfectly okay, in the world. I miss the dog that whenever I was upset, she knew it and she would sit with me, looking into my teary eyes with a look so compassionate that I couldn’t help but feel better. I miss coming home from school and knowing my absolute first responsibility was to serve the upside down dog laying on the floor.

George in “It’s a Wonderful Life” learned to appreciate the things he has rather than thinking about all that he has lost. And while I wish I could say I am as wise as George, I admit I am not quite there. Jimmy Stewart probably wished he could say he was as wise as the character he once played. And yet Stewart recited on Johnny Carson’s stage a poem he wrote about a dog named Beau. The poem ends just as the occasion always does. “And now he’s dead. And there are nights I think I feel him climb upon our bed, and lie between us, and I pat his head. And there are nights when I think I feel that stare, and I reach out my hand to stroke his hair, and he’s not there. Oh how I wish that wasn’t so. I’ll always love a dog named Beau.”

I wish I could say I have moved on. I wish I could say I accept reality and solely appreciate what I have here with me in addition to those memories of things that have passed. I wish, but if I said I was that wise, I’d only be lying. I miss a dog named Maggie.

Rockett’s Landing tri turn Du

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP Bang!

Why do I do this sport? It’s five in the morning and I’m supposed to get out bed and go race my hardest for over two hours. I cannot think of an answer. Like I said, it’s five in the morning and at this point I’m not very sure if anything is worth waking up this early.
As I’m driving to the race start I look at all the crap and litter and realize that all that flows downstream into the river nearby. This is the same river that I am going to be swimming in an hour from now. Why do I do this sport?
I get to the race site and its not dark out. That’s a pleasant surprise. Mind you there is nothing to be seen above but dark storm clouds and its drizzling. Why do I do this sport?
I get to the swim start, ready to race. I look at people warming up and they aren’t going anywhere. An endless pool. A treadmill of water. Great. Why do I do this sport?
The race director recognizes the difficulty of swimming upstream in a river where our pace is slower than the current and changes the course. Now we swim up the river fifty meters, turn out left to cross the river, and head back diagonal across the river to return. Only a 350 meter swim when originally it was supposed to be 1500.
We stand on the dock for the start and the floating dock sinks. This is getting interesting. So half the wave jumps in the river and the other half is on the dock or on the stairs leading down to the dock. We get to the first buoy as a huge pack. Imagine a highway the width of I=95 through D.C. without lane-lines during rush hour and everyone for some reason decides they want to exit at the same exit. That is a triathlon swim around a turn buoy. The only difference is that it’s a bunch of your friends…but thankfully everyone looks the same in a wetsuit and swim cap, or else I would not have many triathlete friends after the race.
Kill or be killed. That is a triathlon swim.
The race director told us that swimming upstream diagonally would take us across. Most everyone underestimates the degree of ‘diagonal’ and we all end up downstream of the next buoy by 50 meters or for some even more. Sprinting for my life, I made it up to the buoy, only to be caught hanging around the line like a dead body. After swallowing a mouthful of water I managed to untangle myself.
I aimed straight across the river about fifty meters above the swim finish hoping that would take me to my destination. However, many people were still on their way out to the buoy. So after head butting several slower swimmers, I made it to the dock only to find they had cancelled the swim. I looked out on the river and could understand why. Many swimmers had turned around soon after starting, just giving up. Most of the swimmers were still out in the water, scattered everywhere, many of them good distances down river. The kayaks in the water were crowded with swimmers grabbing hold. It was an absolute disaster. If the strongest wave of swimmers in the race couldn’t make it, there is no way the next two waves could make it.
An hour later a replacement duathlon began. I held top ten until late in the bike. Nutritionally I messed up big time. I only consumed 180 calories and I was supposed to have 500. I was running low on electrolytes and calories. At around mile seventeen on the twenty-five mile bike my quads were cramping big time.
I pulled myself together mentally, got more calories and electrolytes on the run and finished strong. I spent the final mile of the race chasing a guy that was hundreds of meters ahead of me. I caught him just before the last turn. Later my coach told me of his epic sprint to the finish to beat our friend by a mere second.
That is why I do this sport. Man versus man. Competition. Natural selection in essence. The stronger man wins. It is a test of pure strength, mentally, physically, emotionally. Whoever holds themselves together wins. Whoever wants it more wins. My coach held himself together better than the other guy. That is why triathlon is so epic. It is not tactical. It is a test of pure strength and willpower.
Cycling races are completely different. The man who wins cycling races is not always the one who is the strongest. With cycling, the tactical element comes into play. That adds a new level of excitement. But the two are completely different animals and I love to do both. Triathlon because the strongest man wins and cycling because the smartest, savviest, and relatively strongest man wins.

That is why I do this sport.

Adventures of a medical student