IMC 98, Part 9
"IMC is like summer camp, but only the cool people get to go."
---An approximate quote that may be attributed to any of a number of Ironvets; likely suspects are Jason Mayfield, Bruce Grant, and Wade Blomgren. (Whoever actually did say this, please step forward and 'fess up.)
Were you a nerd in high school? A geek, dork, or general social misfit? I certainly was. Heck, I never had a chance! I was nearly two years younger than my classmates, and on top of that I switched schools between sophomore and junior year. Utterly hopeless, I tell ya.
Now, this may sound silly, but IMC for me is sort of like a make-up session for all the socializing I missed out on in high school. Really, it's great! You travel 1500 miles to this beautiful town in the middle of nowhere and find yourself surrounded by several dozen friends from all over the world with nothing to do for a week but have fun and obsess about this common goal we're all pursuing. The sense of camaraderie and mutual support is unbelievable. To say that it is intoxicating would qualify as gross understatement.
I wonder sometimes how the experience would be different without the fun and support of the folks from this newsgroup. Quite frankly, I never would have attempted an Ironman in the first place without RST, that's a fact. I'm sure that IMC is still an outstanding experience for others, but for RSTers IMC is extremely special.
"Hey, is that you, Melnikoff?"
"Tricia! What's wrong, how come you're going back?"
"Kona calls! I'm saving it for Hawaii. But you look great, keep goin' girl!"
"Oh, that's smart. All right, I'll see you later!"
Deb must have been just about a half mile behind when I turned around. Hey, that's pretty good, I held her off for quite a while. I wonder how long before she would have caught me? And I wonder where I passed her on the bike, don't remember doing that.
I continue my happy jog back to town. Seeing Deb evoked only the tiniest twinge of regret, and only for a split second. I basically have absolutely no problem with my decision. The greater good, you know, the greater good. Back to town we go. Nice to have the sun pounding on my left side for a change, anyway. I wonder how long before Joe will come screaming past?
"TriBaby! What are you doing?? What's wrong?? You're going the wrong way!"
This chorus of protest emanates from a boisterous group across the road, interrupting my reverie. Well looky here: Rolf, John Welch, and that upstart Aussie, Gibbo. What are these guys doing behind me? I remember John passing me on the bike before we even got to Osoyoos---what the heck happened?
"I'm calling it a day, guys; gotta save it for Kona."
"Oh, no way, come on, you gotta finish this one. Come on, come on, run with us."
"I can't, you guys; I'll beat myself up too much, it just wouldn't be smart."
"Well, just run with us a little ways; come on, you can do it."
By this point I have crossed the road in order to converse with these characters at a civilized volume. Gibbo puts an arm around my shoulders and wheedles away with a grin: "That's right, Trish, you mustn't give in to peer pressure. But come run with us."
"Oh, fine, all right. I probably can't even keep up with you guys anyway, so I won't go very far. "
"I hope you're all proud of yourselves, making me do this."
All three just grin like idiots and resume a steady trot.
We exchange horror stories about the wind and the heat. John mentions something about a bike-to-run transition even longer than my own. Their general mood is remarkably buoyant and upbeat for a bunch of guys who claim to be having a tough day.
At this point I notice a fourth hanging off the back of the group. I'm not sure the three fellows were even aware that she was there, but clinging gamely in the shadow of these merry conspirators is Rebecca Taylor---the Ironvirgin who, like Gibbo, held me at least partly responsible for her presence in the blast furnace today. I lost track of Rebecca somewhere in the rollers after Richter Pass, but figured she had probably finished the bike ahead of me. Looks like I was wrong.
The lot of us jog together at a leisurely pace for perhaps half a mile. Rebecca slows a bit, so I do too. The others gradually pull away. They've got each other; I'll stick with Rebecca a while and make sure she's ok.
"How are you feeling?" I ask.
"Kind of bloated," she replies.
"We'll see if there's something salty at the next aid station."
"I think maybe I'll walk for a little bit."
"OK, that's fine with me."
So we walk, and are by no means alone in doing so. On both sides of the road walkers already outnumber runners. Bear in mind that the athletes on the other side of the road at this point are still largely the elites--- the age group hacks aren't the only ones suffering today.
We're nearly to the next aid station (mile 5, perhaps?) when a speedy figure in lime green appears, blasting by the walkers across the road.
"Woohooo! Go, Studmuffin, you look AWESOME! You are rockin'!"
It's Joe Foster, looking strong. Actually, he looks pretty fried, but compared to those around him he's flying. Joe, Skippy, and I had gone to dinner with Rebecca and her boyfriend Adam on Thursday night, so Rebecca too is happy to see Joe and cheer him on.
"You are such a stud, Joe! Will you be the father of my children?" she cries after him as he disappears in the direction of town. Hey, good idea! I wouldn't mind having such genes transferred to my offspring. Of course, Cindy might have a small problem with this...
"Man, did you see him? He looks great! Well, actually, he looks like hell, but you know what I mean."
"Yeah, he's way up there, I wonder what place he's in?"
"I'd bet top 25 overall."
As it turned out, Joe finished the race in 32nd place overall, 5th in 35-39, and copped himself a hard-earned Kona slot. Truly, the man deserves the title "Studmuffin".
Hmmm. OK now, Joe has passed, and according to the latest version of the TriBaby game plan that's the signal for a quick about face and exit, stage left. You've already run a lot farther than you ever intended to, now don't you think it would be a good idea to quit?
My head ponders even as my feet continue walking. I study Rebecca. She's clearly tired but fighting a spirited battle with the fatigue and the heat. I bet she'll get her second wind soon, and then I'll feel ok about leaving her. As soon as she perks up a bit I'll be on my way. Yeah, that's it. OK. Just a little further.