Many of you were entranced with the story of Finn training for his first full-length triathlon, especially when an innocent whiff of sexuality reared its head: the presence of a girl, whose entry into the race prompted Finn to scoff at the idea of participating in the event as part of a relay team. If Allie was going to swim 600 yards, bike 16 miles and run 3 miles by herself, Finn wasn’t going to let the fact that she’d be ahead of him and he’d be staring at her rear the entire race deter him from doing the same. That may have been a motivating factor, actually.
You’ll remember that once Finn decided to compete, Bill decided to devote his spare time to coaching Finn through his training, sacrificing his own participation in the race.
At first the training was hardly noticeable. Bill and Finn would get up early to swim or run; on the weekends they’d take a long bike ride.
As the race drew nearer, their sessions grew longer. I was able to overlook the time they spent going over schedules and strategy as long as it didn’t interfere with my plans.
And then it did. One Sunday Bill and Finn set off on a brick (a bike-run combo) later than I thought healthy, given the temperature, or wise, given my impending weekly run to Publix and subsequent need for strong, energetic males to help unload a van full of groceries. When I pulled in the driveway I was greeted only by Porter and Drew, who are enthusiastic about unloading but less interested in the putting away. Plus, they are careless about egg and light bulb transport.
When Bill and Finn came home I got the usual excuses: a flat tire, extra-hot temperatures. While I knew that these things happen to triathletes in training, I also recognized that perhaps things were getting out of hand. Finn hadn’t started his summer reading or touched his drums in weeks.
We went on our annual beach trip the week before the race, and Bill tried to keep Finn on his training regime. But Finn hadn’t seen his friends all year, there was body surfing to do, a dance contest to organize, and Bill began to question Finn’s commitment to the project.
I didn’t realize how emotionally invested Bill was in Finn’s performance until halfway through beach week, when Bill called me from the other house where the ladies and I were knitting and chatting, to see if Finn needed to go to the hospital. They’d just returned from a brick and Finn was lying on the sofa.
“Honey, I think he needs to see a doctor, quick,” Bill said urgently. “We got off the bike and started the run and he complained he was dizzy and I about had to carry him back to the house. He was having trouble breathing. Maybe it’s a heart murmur, or he’s punctured his lung. Or wait, do you know the symptoms of a stroke?”
I looked at Finn. He was sprawled across the couch, sweaty, closing his eyes, and panting dramatically.
I looked from him to Bill, my soulmate, the man who took pain pills after his vasectomy only because I threatened to stomp his jewels if he didn’t. My lover, who believes hospitals are where you go only when you’re bleeding out or having major surgery.
“Let me check him out,” I said.
I turned to Finn.
“Hey, dude, how late did you stay up last night?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said. “Pretty late.”
“What did you eat for breakfast this morning?”
“I didn’t exactly feel like having much breakfast,” Finn said.
“So exactly how much food went into your belly this morning?” I asked.
“None,” he said sheepishly.
“Did you use your inhaler before your ride?”
“I forgot,” Finn said.
“How about fluids? Did you drink any water or Propel this morning?”
“I drank a little during our ride.”
I tuned back to Bill.
“Honey, you’re being a dumbass,” I told him gently. “This is not a boy with a punctured lung or having a stroke. This is a tired boy who biked and ran on an empty stomach, without using his inhaler or drinking enough water. If you take him to the hospital I am staying here. You two know better than this.”
To his credit, later in the day Bill apologized for overreacting and promised to spend the afternoon NOT thinking about the race. Instead he spent it drinking gin and making googly eyes with me.
It wasn’t the last drama we’d experience before the race.
Next up: The Race Is On (or, How Anne Saves The Day With Her Anal-Retentive First-Aid Kit)
A year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: My Special Club (perfect timing for this one)