Thursday, August 16, 2001


I think I need to hang out with larger people. Spending time with the 5% body fat tri-athletes makes it tough to feel fit. I don't consider myself large. I am more like my nine-year-old Nissan Altima - a bit round the middle, low maintenance, surprising oomph, and with a few dings from misjudging distances. It just looks a little out of place in a marina parking lot full of Audis.

The journey from Alcatraz isn't as much of swimsuit contest as a wetsuit one. The sun hadn't yet risen by the time we had donned our O'Neil armor and headed over to the ferries. We must have looked like a pack of seals as we trotted over the same ground that tourists and mimes would wander later that day. The stores of fisherman's wharf sell the usual drek of personalize license plate key chains, and t-shirts that say "I escaped from the Rock." It is, however, far better to earn one.

We boarded the ship and headed across the sea. There was a Viking mystic to the voyage except our vessel had a snack bar. Little groups of friends huddled around the small tables, and talked nervously as the boat rocked in the waves.

A woman's blurred over the load speaker. "With the tides going out you are going to want to aim 200 yards to the left of the white Aquatic Park building." Nice to know that the ocean is taking you to China.

We rushed to the side of the ferry, and I came to the conclusion that pretty much all of the buildings along the shore looked white clustered around patches of park. We when close enough we were to mark according the three tall masts of a ship. Plan B was to follow the swimmer in front of me - navigation lemming style.

The doors of the ferry opened and the crowd started chanting "Go, go, go ..." Pair by pair the swimmers launched out into bay and dipped well below the wake of the ferry. I took one last look around and realized that I was the best-insulated one of the group. It was time to jump, and I flung myself out the door. The water wasn't that cold or at least not that unexpected in the way that the showers are at summer camp.

I paddled towards the starting line marked by kayaks. The horn blew and the pack splashed towards the city of hippies, sour dough bread, and ex dot comers.

There is a soothing rhythm to swimming and the waves did their best to interrupt me like techno music during a yoga class. At 40 minutes out, I wasn't that close to shore and began to wonder about that "misjudging distance" thing.

Eventually I pulled myself out of the sea, landed on the time pad at Aquatic Park, and handed my ankle bracelet to the next person in our relay team. Time for a well earned mocha.

Heavily caffeinated, I made it to the second transition area to cheer my relay bike and run partners. A few women I knew from team and training were hanging out near the finish line. They were doing their best at a separate event - the 30-yard oogle.

"It something about guys doing triathalons."

"I can't believe he is going to do the run with his shirt off."

"He kind of looks like Jesus in a Speedo." I had to comment that the trip from Alcatraz would be a great deal easier if you were allowed to run on top of the water. But that was lost in the testosterone appreciation.

I spent most of the time hanging out with the boyfriend of the running relay partner. He is a nice guy, and has sort of a John Corbet from "Sex in the City" quality. His girl friend had the tough sand ladder part, which I was very happy to out source. She had a great run certainly compared to my badly aimed swim and the gear problems that happened during the bike up Baker Beach hill.

Eventually our team finished and the girls wandered off to meet up with Jesus in a Speedo. There is no way I can compete with that any more that I run with someone who is a sub 3 hour marathon time. I need the larger Americans found at fast food restaurants and amusement parks. Ask me where I am going next. I say I am headed to Disneyland.