For me it’s reaching the top of Devil’s Canyon without stopping … or falling … or passing out … that’s when it happens.
The gruesome uphill battle that begs for BenGay and Advil the next day.
My quads are on fire, my back is aching, and my 38-year-old knees feel like they are 78. But I’m stubborn and I press on. In fact I don’t even want to look up for fear that my muscles will realize what’s in store for them, they’ll cuss me out, and I’ll just fall over. Mutiny. So I turn up the volume of the iPod, dig deep, and believe that … “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me.”
Yeah … That’s probably what kept me going.
When I got to the top and saw Bob or Dave or Mitch — the volunteer in his bright green TinMan Triathlon shirt handing out water — I felt a sense of awesomeness overwhelm me and a smile stretched across my face as I yelled out: “Duuuuuuuuuuuude I’ve been thinking about you for miles!”
This was him … the dude everyone was happy to see.
I felt Gatorade-worthy.
It also happened when I took the plunge into the pool, feet first and feeling the cool waters wash over my weary muscles as I surged through the Olympic-sized pool for the first 25 yards …
I felt Gatorade-worthy.
And it happened most when I finally reached the finish line … I saw that red, blue, and yellow banner, and the clock ticking, so I sprinted to reach the end. I knew what was waiting for me … Yes there were high-fives and smiles and the awesome finisher medal that I wore all day but that was not it … It was the watermelon. The finish line watermelon. It’s the juiciest, sweetest, best-tasting reward on Earth. Nothing like it … Finish-line watermelon. I looked forward to it for miles.
It made me feel Gatorade-worthy.
All these moments … these were highlights that kept me going, these were the simple rewards that made me feel amazingly Guatacular all day. I bottle that stuff up and live off of that badass feeling for at least a week. And even though I was proud of myself for surviving Devil’s Canyon and thriving under the heat I was even prouder of my son. For the second time in his five-year old existence he successfully completed the Tiny Tot Triathlon.
And they’re off!
You don’t even know.
I was one of those crazy parents cheering loudly at every leg of the race …
It was an easy and smooth transition. He remained serious despite my enthusiastic cheering.
And just as I had my Gatorade-worthy moments and rewards he had his own. Jumping into the pool and being able to swim without me was something that both of us were ecstatic about.
Doggy-paddling his way to the finish.
However crossing the finish line and outrunning the two older kids in the green division was something he was high-fiving me about all day.
But I’m sad to say that the one reward he wanted that day for this awesome accomplishment didn’t quite happen and it almost ruined that amazing feeling — that emotional high that makes you feel great all day — that juice.
And who was to blame?
Who almost killed it?
Wendy’s … yeah I said it … it was Wendy’s and you almost killed it. I don’t know Dave Thomas, but I’m sure he would have been so disappointed.
My son has never had a Happy Meal. Never ventured into the Golden Arches … we’ve always been an In-and-Out kind of family. So when he finally asked for one it wasn’t the McDonald’s Happy Meal … it was the Wendy’s Kids Meal. That’s what he wanted … that was the reward he was looking forward to at the end of his race.
He’d been dreaming of that DC Comics Swooping Superman Glider and the Super Hero Training Comic Book that came with the meal. That was it. That was his “Finish-line watermelon”. He’d seen the commercial for weeks and decided that that would be his prize. He was so excited that he decided we should order a kid’s meal for his sister too, just so she could get Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and they could form the mini Justice League.
I mean he has superhero action figures here, they both do, but these were Kids Meal DC Comic Superhero prizes and they were way better … they were “finish-line watermelon” so I agreed.
So we drove twenty minutes out of our way to find the nearest Wendy’s because apparently there was no Wendy’s near the race.
He walked in wearing his medal, smiling the toothless kindergartener smile, and walked up to the register and ordered a kid’s meal … the one with the superheroes in it.
And then that’s when it happened.
The guy behind the counter just looked at me and shook his head.
He had conquered the football field run, raced through the ginormous parking lot on two wheels, kicked and splashed his way past older kids, and sprinted to the finish line. He’d finished. He’d accomplished something big and had a medal to prove it. And we had driven … and driven … and driven in unknown neighborhoods misguided by our outdated Garmin GPS that didn’t even have the freeway we were driving on listed. But we drove and eventually got there ready to get that finish-line kids meal.
And they didn’t have it.
Wendy’s didn’t have it.
The look on my son’s face … Disaster.
I felt bad. His sister felt bad. The guy behind the counter felt bad.
My son assured him that they did have it. This was Wendy’s. He had seen the commercial. He needed to look again. It said that they were soaring into the kids’ meals.
Dude … parent failure. My heart felt heavy.
The dude reached behind the counter for something else … some kind of connect-the-puzzle-pieces-transform-this-into-anything kind of toy.
My son looked at it bowed his head and slowly walked to the booth where he slumped down in the chair and waited for my arrival.
The guy behind the counter said they hadn’t had any of those in weeks and doubted that any other Wendy’s would have it either. I told him seeing how he was gainfully employed by Wendy’s he should use his connections to stop showing the commercial.
I looked back at my son … sigh.
“Dude. I’m gonna need some kind of chocolate or ice cream ’cause that plastic building set is just not gonna do it.”
Chocolate to the rescue.