25 Sep

Ironman Narcissistic Fantasies

A few weeks ago, the Ironman Triathlon took place here in Madison just as it has done for the past three years. I’ve been secretly wanting to do one ever since the Ironman circuit first came to Madison in 2002. Every year that I’ve been in town, I’ve gone down to the finish line to watch the first place finishers come in. They always look surprisingly energetic. This year’s champion, for example, ran into the final strech and then jumped up on a platform and hugged the Ford Explorer displayed there.

I imagine myself coming across the line. Probably not in first place, but perhaps in a surprisingly high-place finish. Maybe then I’d get interviewed by the local papers and TV stations. Maybe I would show such promise that I’d get sponsored and become professional.

When I signed up for next year’s Ironman, I wasn’t put off by the fact that I can barely swim one 50-meter length of the pool before stopping to catch my breath. Nor was I put off by the fact that I don’t yet own and have never owned a road bike. And I certainly wasn’t put off by that stress fracture I got back in high school, or by the memory of the doctor telling me I simply couldn’t log that many training miles per week due to my foot structure.

Instead, I let my narcissistic fantasies fly free.

The first, which I’ve already hinted at, involves my being interviewed after the race as the “local man” who “exceeds everyone’s expectations, including his own.” The quotes in that sentence would be the headline, of course. The story would suck the readers in by explaining how I barely knew how to swim a year prior to competing in this years’ Ironman Triathlon. And it would go on to explain how I’d placed 12th overall, first among Madison area competitors, and third amongst amateur athletes. All this from a man who had never so much as completed one triathlon in his life until three months ago!

On TV, I’d surprise my interviewers by explaining that “No, actually, it’s not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” I haven’t quite figured out how I’d respond to the obvioius follow-up question, but I have a few options in mind, one of which is “living through a presidential coup in Ecuador,” even though that was not at all difficult but was, in fact, quite fun.

At one point on the bike ride, I will have talked with a few of the other competitors riding the same pace. They’ll have been shocked to find out that this was my first Triathlon. Two of them will warn me to take it easy; I’ll go on to beat those two guys in the marathon.

I’ll have my own “support team” like so many Madison-area competitors. Their shirts will be bright blue and the slogan will be “Storm’s A Comin.” Local News will latch onto the story because the whole day will have threatened the athletes with “potentially race-cancelling” showers and thunderstorms. The members of the support team will include relatives and all of the friends I make between now and then.

As I finally cross the finish line, the announcer will say, “And here comes Madison’s own Tim Storm!” And they’ll play “Everyone Deserves Music” by Michael Franti.

I’ll get offers for sponsorship immediately afterwards from such companies as Apple Computers, XBox, and REI.

I’ll accept.

And I’ll quit teaching.

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