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Triathlete Blog

Grandma’s Shower

By August 7, 2007June 5th, 2015No Comments

Sunday morning, my eyes popped open. There I was, still in Michigan, laying in Grandma’s guest bed. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Feet, back, neck, arms, shoulders, legs. If there was one part of my body that did not hurt right then it was my…..nose. Slowly, I made my way out of bed and decide a hot shower would alleviate at least twenty percent this post-half-ironman-pain.

The other eighty percent would take awhile.

I make my way to the shower and stood there. There it was. In all of its black and gold glory…..

Grandma’s shower.

Though there are two bathrooms in the house, one only has a bath and the other has a shower. And as if pre-race shower routine wasn’t awkward enough, the shower is in Grandma’s bedroom. When I told Grandma I would be showering at 4:15 am, she couldn’t understand why anyone would shower before they ran and I didn’t know how to explain that if I didn’t start the race clean it would interfere with my cosmic system of pre-race rituals and rites. Admittingly none of which make any sense.

Operating Grandma’s shower requires an engineering degree and a large degree of luck. The good thing is that my husband has an engineering degree. The bad thing is that on Sunday morning he was nowhere to be found. He had gone off to church with Grandma to get a little religion in his life. Myself, the heathen, and Thomas, fellow triathlete turned heathen, stayed behind to get a little post half-Ironman rest in our life.

So there I was, alone, I stood in Grandma’s bathroom, looked at the shower door, and then thought to myself; if I can overcome 70.3 miles of pain on the race course, I can overcome the complexity of this shower stall.

You start by unfolding the plastic folding door. Yes, I said plastic door. The plastic accordion door, circa 1973, is like a bear trap for tired naked people trying to climb into the shower. You open one end of the door, it snaps back and then the other end opens only to also snap back. What they lacked in technology in 1973 they made up for in shower doors.

Through its system of magnets and accordion folds, I try to open the door. It goes on like this for a few good minutes before finally I realize if I hold the right side with my right hand, the left side with my left foot I can manage my left hand on the shower knob. After all of this, the only thing guaranteed is that you will either get a finger snapped or you will pull the door entirely off its track.

Once you have opened the door, and securely put yourself inside the shower stall you are then faced with turning the shower on. The day before my husband tried to explain this task to Thomas. Chris warned that you must turn the knob to the 9 or the 45. This also requires you to imagine the shower knob as a giant clock with invisible numbers. You would think after 35 years someone would have just taken a Sharpie and written the damn numbers on the knob. The whole number system appears to be a foolproof plan except if the person explaining the plan (Chris) can’t remember if it was the 9 or the 45 or if it was maybe just the 3. With that said, there was a very high likelihood that Thomas would either scald or freeze himself. And so that explains why Chris was in the bathroom turning on the shower for Thomas.

Or at least, I think.

But back to Sunday morning, me in the 1973 space odyssey bear trap shower stall. First, you must know that I did not have half the manual power required to pull and operate Grandma’s shower knob. Wait, something about that sounded really, really wrong. But let me explain. Turning on Grandma’s shower knob (again, wrong) requires the strength to simultaneously pull with enough force to turn the knob but enough restraint to not pull the knob off the wall.

Since I left most of my body and brain power somewhere yesterday on the course, turning on and operating grandma’s shower became an immensely difficult task. A task that today required two hands. But remember, I was using one of those hands to hold open the magnetically charged door. Upon releasing that hand to pull the knob, immediately, the opposite side of the door snapped open. And the gorilla that showered before me must have been about 10 feet tall because the shower nozzle was pointed directly upward at the wall which then caused water to spray out from that open side of the door.

So there I was Sunday morning trying to operate the a shower that was clearly made only for members of the Mensa Society when I got in and then scalded myself, then froze myself, scalded myself again because I was trying to find the 9 or the 45 and wondering if we were talking standard or military time because I couldn’t figure this whole thing out. And once it was at a comfortable temperature I couldn’t see a 9 or a 45 really it looked more like the 3 to me so I wasn’t sure what time zone I was showering in or at this point even why.

Finally, the warm water started to eliminate some of my aching pain. And then the worst possible thing happened – worse than spraying water all over Grandma’s bathroom floor, worse than having to shower inside of what felt like a disco prison box with a plastic door, worse than burning yourself with hot water in a shower box so small you have nowhere else to go but jump up and down while screaming hot hot hot sh*t that’s hot stop *hot* NOW before making the water icy cold. Worse yet….

I dropped the soap.

The dropped bar of soap is the kiss of death for those struggling in post 70.3 pain. Yesterday, I had watched some woman drop her bottle of Gatorade after the race. She looked down at the bottle painfully and then did some contorted version of a half leg bend/one legged squat to pick it up. I felt sorry for her, I wanted to help. But then I realized I could barely move my own legs.

With much effort, I picked up the soap, but since dexterity had left me 70.3 miles ago, I dropped it again, and again until finally I decided that hygiene was highly overrated and half clean was better than half dirty any day. I turned off the water and stood there in the stall. I had made it through the shower, and that seemed like enough exercise for one day.

After the shower, I get dressed and tried to wake Thomas up. I told him I was going out for coffee but would return to take him to breakfast. I reminded him to be careful in the shower, and to remember the 9 and the 45.

Thomas, perhaps being a little hungover, perhaps a little post race hamstring malaise settled into his left leg, perhaps hiding his face in pillow to smother his post-70.3-pain, snapped with his displaced southern drawl,

“I’m not going anywhere near that damn thing.”

For some reason, I lost it right there. Nearly peed myself, almost requiring another trip into the retro shower stall, closed the door to Thomas’ room, went for coffee, and thought to myself that I was glad I wouldn’t be pulling Grandma’s shower knob for a very long time.