Guess where I am.
Let me give you a few clues: oranges, gators and Crown Victorias.
Need another hint?
….I have no idea what else they are known for here. So let me just let the Chihuahua out of the bag. We are in Clearwater. We’re here for the 70.3 World Championship. Three of my athletes are racing and so is Chris. Who is my husband. In case you’re new around here.
I’m sitting in our room at the Residence Inn watching Miss Daisy sit on the edge of the couch watching television. Except that her way of watching television is narrating everything that is happening. In fact Chris just asked her about something that was happening on the television show and she said:
I don’t know because I was talking too much.
We arrived late this morning, got checked in and ran into about a dozen people by registration. It’s good to reconnect with familiar faces and to meet new ones. Waiting for Chris someone walked up to me and said:
I recognize you from the internet.
Oh god. This could go so many ways. Good thing it was just from my blog and not ….(fill in the blank for me).
Chris walked out of registration looking a little disturbed.
The scale said that I was 16 percent body fat.
Oh for crying out loud. Everyone knows that when you get weighed at any Ironman event the scale automatically adds 5 pounds. And everyone around you looks 5 pounds thinner than everywhere else so you can’t help but feel like a whale. Regardless, Chris couldn’t let it go. Every person we met from there on out he asked if they thought the scale was accurate.
Here he is, in all of his “fatness”.
After check in we went to a tasty little café, the Wildflower Café, set apart from the noise of the strip malls with fresh salads and delicious bread. We were the only ones who sat outside – it was 65 degrees which is winter around here – but once I went inside I realized that to sit inside you needed to be a minimum age of 75.
They were carding.
After lunch, I suggested a walk. We headed over to a park with a path around a lake. There was a beautiful contrast of cypress and palm trees. Lily pads in the water and tall reeds.
The wildlife is a little different around here. The first thing I spotted was a dinosaur. Now science was never my strongest subject so I had to confirm with Chris that most dinosaurs are not purple.
How would we know, he said.
True, we did not exist with the dinosaurs. Maybe they were purple?
Besides, Barney is purple.
Then it is fact. Dinosaurs were purple. Here I am riding Barney.
We walked a little further and found a hidden path. There were signs warning us of the hazards.
In case you were thinking of sharing your martini with the wildlife. Someone should probably have a talk with the sign department at the local parks and recreation. Or maybe they’re just stating the obvious around here. If I live to be 75, I’m going to live on booze too.
The path ran along a stream. It looked like the perfect place for a gator. Sure enough, the signs were pointing out just that thing: we were in gator country. And like the martini glass, I’m not sure what to think about this:
On my list of things to do before I die, molesting a gator is right up there with scaling a wall with my tongue or spoon feeding M&Ms to Miss Daisy.
We found these crazy dudes along the shore. We didn’t know what they were but I liked their beaks. We later learned that this bird is an Ibis. After walking but the beaky birds, slowly I made my way around the shore looking for a gator.
Whatcha looking for, a man asked?
He chuckled, went back to his cigarette then started talking to Chris. Meanwhile, I went back to gator hunting. Laugh at me all you want but I know they’re around here.
A short while later, I look out into the water. Right between a thickness of lily pads, there it was:
A gator (can you see it?).
The spiny scales stuck out behind a long head and bulging eyes. He sat there in stillness. I watched.
We finished up the walk by walking around the lake again. I notice that the path is more than just an ordinary path. It’s a Vita Course. Here I am participating in the Vita Course. Notice that Chris did not participate because he was tapering. And one wouldn’t want to pull a muscle doing…
Here’s another taste of what you can do on the Vita Course. I have no idea who the person in the lower right corner represents or why they have their own picture but clearly they alone are capable of doing what a family of 3 can do.
After all of this excitement we checked into our hotel and who walks out of the door but Miss Daisy in all of her pink glory. After we go to our room, within 30 minutes she was already calling and within 60 minutes she was demanding food. This is nothing new. Flashbacks to Miss Daisy having a food meltdown on Florida, in South Carolina, in Portland.
We ate dinner together and then Chris and Daisy had a heart to heart on the couch. I’m not sure what they were talking about but I was pretty sure if I left the room I’d come back and find them spooning.
Here you’ll notice that Chris has about half the hair he started the day with. He learned a valuable lesson today: a #2 at Sports Clips is not the same as a #2 at Supercuts. The women are saying that’s what you get for going to Supercuts. Nearly shaved his head. Which I think was really just a final attempt to lose a few pounds before race day.
While Daisy and Chris were chatting, Rebecca, one of my athletes, texted me asking if I needed anything at the grocery store. Why indeed we did. We need M&Ms for Daisy to quiet her down because if I hear “I need something sweet” one more time I will kick her out. Rebecca graciously delivered a one pound bag of M&Ms. I tossed the bag into Daisy’s lap at which she first called me an “evil witch”, then admitted she could not leave bag in her room and finally demanded M&Ms. Not the whole bag, she asked for….12.
You could tell she put some thought to this.
She left for bed and I ate about 120 M&Ms, spent some time with Rebecca then watched Iron Chef.
Tomorrow I’m meeting up with some other athletes for swims, coffee and other fun things you can take less seriously when you’re not racing. Someone asked me if I missed racing this year. No, not here. No way. I’m happy to be Sherpa to Chris. Plus I’m just pleased to have helped some athletes to get here and excited to watch them race!