Same S**t, Different Day

Today I raced the Lake Stevens 70.3; I finished with a PW – personal worst. Rather than lament about another race gone wrong  I thought I would share some of the interesting happenings and encounters on race day.

The hotel
I stayed at the Roach Inn with severely poor fluorescent lighting, furniture that is too big for the room (I had to move a chair to navigate from the front door to the bathroom), a scintillating view of the parking lot, the most hideous bedspread and loitering chain smokers. I needed a shower to get clean from the shower. The icing on the cake, though, was at 4:30 race morning. I proceeded to the ice machine to fill my Camelbak and bottles. I pressed the button and all I heard was the whirring of an empty machine. Ugh. I darted across the street to the gas station and bought a 7 pound bag of ice. I should have knocked on the other racer’s doors to distribute it, but I was now pressed for time.

Interesting conversation
At some point on the bike I switched over from “racing” to “surviving”. While in survival mode, I passed a guy on the bike with sheer shorts. Very sheer. Think of pantyhose. We had the following exchange.

JZ: Dude, you need new shorts.
Dude: Why do I have a hole in them?
JZ: They are really see-through. I can see your crack.
Dude: Wow that must be bad.
JZ: It is very disturbing!

Here is the kicker, though. I had seen the same guy the day before and we had an equally interesting conversation. He was heading out for a ride with a bare torso.

JZ: Are you going to put a jersey on? You are going to get really burnt.
Dude: Nah, I am only going for 10 minutes.
JZ: That is hardly worth the effort.
Dude: I just hope I don’t scare anyone with my fat.
JZ: Well, you know what they say. Tan fat is more flattering than white fat, so tan the fat!

I spent a good part of the second run lap behind a self-talker. Most of his ranting was garbled, but I was able to catch a few coherent snippets.

“God-damn it, get going. Kona is way harder than this.”
“It’s the Fast and the Furious moving along.”
“Get the engines running now. Come on.”
“Are you Joanna Zeiger? Wow, I’m running with a pro.”
“Revving it up.”
“We’re almost there. We’re going to make it.”

Clothing choices
I counted 5 people wearing the race t-shirt during the race. What is the rationale behind this? Did they decide beforehand that they had nothing to wear so they relied on the shirt? Or, did they see the shirt at check-in and thought the look, feel and quality was far superior to the shirt they had brought from home?

Aid Stations

Many of the aid stations were low on water when I was on my second lap. They handed out cups with less than a sip of water. The people on their first lap were screwed.

The course
I always say if you are going to suffer you should have something nice to look at. Today, I suffered. Today, I had something nice to look at. The course is beautiful. I really did enjoy the scenery and I do believe that the beauty had a calming effect on my broken spirit and helped me get to the finish line.

Final notes
I was told by many to go get a drink. Drinking alone at noon is depressing and borders on dysfunctional. Instead, I went to Starbucks and ordered up a soy, coffee Frappucino. Nothing like a brain freeze and caffeine to cure the woes.

Since I can’t race for speed right now, I think I might just race for blog material!

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30 Responses

  1. Joanna Bloor says:

    So you might have had a PW but that was a hilarious post. Thanks for the good giggle. 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love your sense of humour. 🙂
    You stood on the start line, did your thing, made it through the finish. PW or not, you get much respect from me, who is thinking about her first ever Oly distance race next weekend and just praying to make it to the end. I know this probably doesn't mean much, but I did want to say that. 🙂 That being said, I'm sorry your day was rough today.
    Thank you for writing – even (and perhaps particularly) on the days when things haven't gone your way, your blog is inspirational to me as your strength and perseverance comes through in your writing.
    Cheers, TRR

  3. The LaceDog says:

    One of the better post-race posts I've read in quite some time. I always get frustrated when I read about professionals bagging it when it's not their day…your experience, though unfortunate, is refreshing to read from a middle-o/the-pack fan.

    For the love of the sport, JZ…big fan…keep the faith!

  4. Kiet says:

    Simply awesome post.

  5. don says:

    I still love you. Perhaps more now.

  6. Bret says:

    Great post! You rock lady!

  7. Carole Sharpless says:

    Agree with Don…. we probably love you more now. Good to know you're mortal! 😉


  8. Emerson says:

    I loved this post!
    Have a great recovery!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Your posts are always great fun to read. So sorry you had to see the crack -good thing you passed him! Glad you enjoyed the scenery, even if it wasn't your day. That is disturbing they were almost out of water when you were on your second lap. The age groupers were truly screwed! Take Care!

  10. Snogfest Hosebeast says:

    you rock

  11. Christine says:

    Very funny. Kudos for keeping a sense of humour about it all!

  12. says:

    I feel very sad for people who don't know what you sound like or how you probably came across to that guy with the crack. Oh man, why wasn't I there for that one??? In a selfish way, I am glad you went up to the race and had this day because reading this TOTALY MADE MY DAY! Laughter is the best medicine and you got a nice dose and shared it with all of us!

    I hope you threw the comforter off that bed. You don't want to give Diesel anything!

  13. Anne Schreiber says:

    Oh my gosh Jo –

    The wit and laughter that you bring to life is consistent from our times together in high school. You are flippin hilarious. I would love to have been there listening to you talk to 'crack man'. I can hear it perfectly.

    Miss you and hope you'll be in SD soon.

    xoxox – sorry today wasn't your day, but you made mine with a big belly laugh. :)anne

  14. Sue says:

    My daughter Chloe and I came over from CDA to watch the race, i have followed your story and only have good things to say about you!! So wanted to encourage you on today, cheering you on at every possible moment, because thats what we do!! You are an inspiration so much more because of your finish today, so thank you for being you…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am getting ready to do my first Ironman and reading this gives me a whole new look on the importance of finishing something you have started. I know I will be in the back of the pack but I want to enjoy my experience. The best in the world have days like you went through and I admire you for sticking it out! Awesome job.

  16. Leah says:

    Hilarious post. Love the conversation snippets.

  17. Christi says:

    WOW, that was a crazy race! Thanks for sharing your interesting moments from the race!

  18. Lara says:

    Had I been there, I would gladly have had a drink with you. That would have been quite a sight–you in your trisuit and Sharpied-on race numbers, me 6 months preggers, knocking back shots. Awesome.

  19. Mauricio says:

    I love when you guys in the pro ranks don't pull out because of a bad day, it shows your respect for the sport. I saw you out there and i also had a PW.
    You not alone.

  20. Katya says:

    "Shower from a shower" and "sheer shorts". love it.

  21. Daniel says:

    Way to stick to it. I just hope that decision doesn't slow your continuing recovery. After seeing you on the course, I'd hoped to run into you at the finish line. Just wanted to say that I love the blog and you continue to inspire me to aim high in the sport, but also to treat my body well.

    I'll join the Fast-At-Forty PW club, having logged the slowest 56 mile bike split I've ever done. By the end, my race was 100% about heat management.

    Lake Stevens is a great course. Hope to see you out here again next year!


  22. Anonymous says:

    Sorry you had a tough race Aunt Joanna. I hope to see you, Uncle Mark and Diesel soon.

    -TdF John

  23. The Dude says:


    It was a pleasure to meet you, both before and during the race (although not as I might have intended!)

    Sigh, I am the fat, pale bastard with the sheer shorts. (Currently in the Tri Witness-Protection Program).

    Believe it or not, I also enjoyed your post….it's good to be able to laugh at yourself and not take things too seriously. The pale fat I can do something about, although I find it more difficult post-50. The sheer shorts that I made you suffer through have also been remedied via a one-way trip to the dump. DeSoto Sport shall pay dearly!

    In any case, I appreciated your dry wit, and hope to meet you in more positive circumstances in the future. I realized that you were having a bad day on the course when someone as slow as me was able to pass you on the bike, albeit briefly.

    Best wishes,

    The Dude

  24. Charisa says:

    The DUDE rocks!

  25. Amy Kirkham says:


    I was in the pro field there Sunday too. It was my first ironman 70.3 race and a PW for half-iron distance too. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself after I finished. Right after the race a friend told me they read an interview with you where you said you would never drop out of a race if you could physically finish out of respect for age-groupers. I just wanted to tell you that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and that you have the most integrity of any pro I have heard of. I was really happy that I didn't drop out and plan to take your perspective to heart for the rest of my career. You are a real role model for new pro's like me.

    I'll be cheering for you (from home) at Clearwater this year. Giv'er hell.


  26. Cadence Triathlon Training says:

    Welcome to my world at the back of the pack where they are folding up the aid stations and turning off the lights! And remember, The Dude abides.

  27. Fe-lady says:

    No pictures of the dude? Awwww…
    Great post.
    Funny how when I tried to post similar experiences/observations about triathlon in general and the people who race them (the t-shirt thing) I was called "negative" and an "old bitch"-
    that's what I get for not being faster and a pro I guess.
    P.S. I no longer have a blog so don't even try to go there…

  28. The Dude says:

    A Dude Update:

    Sent a nicely worded e-mail to DeSoto Sport today, explaining what happened at Lake Stevens. Not complaining, just asking if anyone else had something similar happen with these particular tri-shorts. About an hour later, Emilio DeSoto called me, concerned about the quality of his gear. Now THAT'S a company you have to respect!

    The Dude

  29. Joanna Zeiger says:

    The Dude-

    You are awesome and have a great sense of humor. Please email me!


  30. Anonymous says:


    To 50-something newb triathletes like me struggling in a Quixotic quest for AG mediocrity, your finish at LS is an inspiration.

    Wishing you nothing but the Best!!!