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Triathlete Blog

Release the Hounds

By October 31, 2006June 2nd, 2015No Comments

It’s that creepy, crawly, spooky, scary time of year. The only time of year we actually acknowledge and allow our dangerous, child-like love for all things sugared, sweet, treacherously full of trans fat while wandering around in the most creative of costumes – it’s Halloween

And for us adults, it’s that time of year where adults inevitably get invited to a Halloween party by a host that absolutely insists everyone wear a costume so much so that she wrote it in big block letters that costumes are not optional but MANDATORY for fear that if you arrive dressed as yourself you’ll be prohibited from entering and you’ll get ridiculed from the front windows by your costumed peers.

At first, I wasn’t pleased about this. I have a hard enough time choosing an outfit to wear for the day as myself, let alone pretending to get dressed as someone else. I spent about 1 hour thinking about my costume when I got frustrated because I realized that I was not 8 years old and had better things to do with my time, like swim, or bike, or run, and decided I would protest by simply not dressing up.

But after a few days even I gave into the haunting fun of Halloween and decided I was going to go as “raining men” as in it’s raining men, hallelujah. In other words, I was going to wear my raincoat with laminated pictures of men taped all over it. Clever, eh? But alas, the double-sided tape was not sticky enough and raining men became dropping all over floor men. And no one wants to wear a Halloween costume they have to clean up after – not even me.

So there I was, Saturday night, about 2 hours before the party started, scrambling to come up with something, anything for a costume just so I could get in the party door. And trust me, I needed to get in. It’s been a long summer in Ironman Hell and it was time to release the Ironman Hell hounds. There were a lot of good costume ideas, and good attempts but in the end everything was too big and nothing looked right. But then Chris and I came up with the only thing with a perfect costume for me one week post-Ironman Hawaii – I was a triathlete that had just returned from Ironman Hell. The costume fell right into place.

Upon arriving at the party, we were greeted by a most decorated and costumed group; our friends. Some of them really went all out with make-up, props, and design. And that is when I realized I probably looked like the world’s biggest tri-dork. Picture it – there I was at a party standing in my full outfit with a Kona visor, race belt strapped with chocolate Power Gels (never miss an opportunity to plug your sponsors), arms adorned with 666 in black Sharpie marker on both sides, even wearing a Kona race number 666 on my race belt.

Of course no one really got it and most even thought it was lame – but I didn’t care. There was no way I could put a disclaimer on my costume that indeed I just literally and honestly returned from Ironman Hell. In fact, wearing the costume and enjoying myself was not just a celebration of Halloween but a celebration of my goals, a ceremony of my Ironman efforts at the end of a very long and successful year. And if no one got that but me, that was quite alright.

The night moved along quietly, harmlessly with some good food, good friends, and of course plenty of good drink. This being a week completely off of working out with no long ride or early swim to get up for, I participated in full force leaving no cup empty and no drink untouched. Besides, I was eager to test my theory that Ironman training can give your metabolism a new found rocket fuel ability to process alcohol and fatty foods. And after a half of bottle of 3 different wines (uh, I think) I concluded that indeed even Ironman-paced drinks will still catch up to you at some point. At that point, I decided to take it down a notch, in other words switch to what appeared to be a harmless beverage (but not really) disguised in a bubbly punch from a smoky cauldron spiked with something that I should have known better about.

No sooner did the Firewoman begin walking around with jello shots, the orange filled with vodka and the red rock solid with everclear. So I quickly grabbed a few red, lining them up on my leg because you can’t be certain that there will be any left the next time they come around and what a shame that would be, and even more quickly downed each one while reporting “these are good!”. I tried to convince B.O.B.-On-Fire that he should do a red shot with me and he quickly said “no, no, no, no, I’ll stick the orange,” which made me wonder if there was something about the red that I didn’t know or wouldn’t remember at all.

And then I remembered. Note the last time I drank everclear was back in college, a night which proved to me, the hard way, that one should never drink anything named after a large and hairy mammal that spends it’s days swatting it’s own ass with it’s own tail. It was my freshman year, and I was uninvitedly at a party at the hockey team’s house. Of course, I didn’t know any hockey players and I had never played hockey but it was college and have party, freshman will follow. There were large garbage cans filled with the reddest, sweetest liquid floating with fruit – a punch known as hairy buffalo (also code for something too inappropriate to talk about here). And I remember standing there, plastic cup in hand, scooping large and frequent gulps out of the can saying, naively, it tastes just like Kool-Aid!, until a few hours later, I found myself in my own bed clutching a garbage can that I get very cozy with for the rest of the night. Again, pass on the drinks named after large, hairy mammals.

But Saturday night went much better. And besides, I was in cognito, completely disguised, so if anything did go wrong no one would ever know it was me. Right.

After a few hours of festivities, the Devil Herself got up to start some party games which were great because a game needs to be played, a game is a competition, and a game is meant to be won. Alas, this wasn’t my type of game as it involved answering a series of sordid and sneaky “If you’ve ever_____” fill in the blank statements for which I more often drew a blank than was able to fill it in. For example, I’ve never been to Europe, or arrested, or caught in a closet with myself. It was one of those games better suited for the curious and sex hungry minds of early teens rather than most of us in our early thirties but still there was something oddly enjoyable to it all and after a season of competing, I was in it to win it no matter what.

The first question I was off to a great start when the Devil said “If you’re not wearing underwear then move one seat to the right,” and in a triumphant WOO HOO! I got up and moved myself to the right because again I was wearing my race shorts which generally do not include underwear. At that moment, my husband dressed as King Tut stood up and dropped his drawers to the floor from under his pharoah’s robe and sat on the lap of the girl next to him. WOO HOO to him too.

And as the game wore on, the quality of the questions took a tantalizing turn as I watched someone’s wife move while her husband sat still when the Devil said “If you’ve ever had sex in a public place”, I watched the Corpse Bride and I sit in the same chair for about 15 questions when she looked at me and said “We need to get out more”, and then for a final statement, when men and women were stacked nearly 7 deep on each other’s lap in some chairs, I whispered my own version of an “If you’ve ever” to the Devil, since she had been sitting on my lap for the last 5 statements, and upon hearing my statement she looked at me and said “No?” to which I demanded “Just say it.” And so the Devil slurred, I mean shouted, “If you’ve ever slid across a bar floor naked, move one seat.” Immediately in reply, I heard the grumblings of B.O.B. On Fire, Kyle From South Park, and King Tut getting up and moving one seat to the right. The Devil looked at me, as if I knew something she didn’t know, and I just explained that they’d all been on Ragbrai and it was a baptism by naked beer slide on our team.

Just then, the Devil Herself, teetering in her high heels – in other words barely able to stand at this point – banged her pitchfork on the floor and commanded us to play another game – Twister. It started with a group of those 23 years of age and under, I have no idea how they got into the party or how any of us know children that young, twisting and turning their bodies with left arm yellow and right foot red over and over again until only Jane Jetson remained. The Devil, using her pitchfork as the only leg she could stand on at this point, commanded all Aries to get on the Twister mat. No Aries around. Then she demanded that all Leos get on the Twister mat. Why, why of 12 months, with 1 month down, with a 1 in 11 chance did she have to choose Leo? Silently I sat without saying a word when someone shouted “Lizzy, you’re a Leo” and the big cat was out of the bag, the Devil banged her pitchfork with fortitude on the floor, and I knew better than to not report to the Twister Mat. And after a few dizzy twists, poses, reaches, stretches, and turns, I returned to the couch with King Tut clutching a camera full of pictures of me and Jane Jetson in terribly suggestive positions with B.O.B. On Fire exclaiming, “I didn’t realize you were that flexible, Liz.” I didn’t either, but just for the sake of my costume let’s pretend like Ironman had something to do with it.

While ladling myself a cup of the cauldron of “probably should have stopped 10 cups ago”, Kyle from South Park walked up to me and said “It’s good to see you drinking again, Lizzy.” Not that I’ve ever been known as the ‘drinker’ in the group, but I believe it was just a nice way of saying it was good to see me having fun again. At which I realized that I had been wound up and pent up for far too long and it was time to get the party started.

Of course that involved dancing.

Before the dancing began, the Devil Herself had succumbed to the curse of the Halloween Hostess, just like Cousin Amy did last Halloween all cute and cuddly in her Minnie Mouse outfit right before she covered Christie in vomit. This year Cousin Amy came as Batgirl, ready to fly away from any party fouls, passing on her curse to the Devil who had just recently resigned to her bedroom with a case of the dry heaves and mukes from too much party too soon (must pace yourself, my friend, take it from the Ironman – P.A.C.E. Y.O.U.R.S.E.L.F.). As such, the party had no direction, no leader so The Guy From Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas suggested we turn the music and get dancing.

Now I don’t dance. I turn my arms, I spin my legs and circles, and take short steps with my feet but I don’t dance. My body just doesn’t move that way. Which is why when I do start dancing you know that it has been preceeded by about 38, 746 drinks. Give or take. And when I found myself dancing while simultaneously swatting King Tut’s tushy with a tiny plastic pitchfork as Sexy Back blared out of the speakers (no I am not the only thirtysomething that knows the words to this song), I knew that I had better slow down.

So I sat down, and watched Trinity dance for a little while holding a plastic gun which clearly set B.O.B. On Fire up in flames as he said “you are fulfilling a fantasy of mine.” I guess dancing with a plastic gun makes a girl pretty hot. Someone should be writing this all down to share with all of the women of the world.

The Firewoman took over as hostess and distributed awards to the most scary, sexy, and most lame. I almost walked away with the lamest costume award but who can compete with a princess, an Angel of Darkness, a blue demon, Lucy, and a guy in a straight jacket. Heck, who would even want to talk to a guy in a straight jacket? And that’s why I didn’t care if people voted me lame, or loser, or sexy, or scary because tonight it was all about releasing the Ironman hell hounds for a final hurrah of my workout-free freedom.

Around 1 am, after the music had turned down, and Trinity, King Tut, and I had been partied out enough, we headed home. I took off my Ironman Hell costume and thought that was it – I was free from it all, one week later, and ready to look ahead to the next big thing.

I haven’t decided yet what the next big thing is, and didn’t do much thinking on Sunday. I woke up at 11 am, head a little cloudy with too much cauldron punch, too much everclear, too much fun, and enjoyed my last day of nothing for a long, long time. But it’s worth it – the trip to hell and back – whether or not anyone understands it or gets it but me – it is so very much worth it. And who knows, maybe months from now I just might find myself buying a one way ticket straight back into that same hell just so I have a reason to release those hounds again next Halloween.