Saturday, July 16, 2005
The Adventures of Faust
By Alyssa Polacsek
To Max on his birthday, 2004,
this story would never have been told.
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, down by the pond filled with thousands of lily pads and more flies than one frog could ever consume without running the risk of turning into a piggy, there lived a frog who stood out amongst the backwash of green and springtime forest. His name was Faust. Faust was not a typical frog even by his looks alone. Faust was blazing orange and neon yellow with spindly legs that could keep him hopping hour-upon-hour extending farther and longer than the other frogs ever dreamed possible. Faust was what his mother oftentimes referred to as being “a hyperactive child.”
If he wasn’t playing leap frog or racing the others around the pond, Faust, in all of his glory with boundless energy could be found entertaining his friends with tales of kings and sorcerer’s, acting out all of the players as well as narrator. Faust would rally his listener’s to play their part with “gasps” and “awes” and “cheers” and “jeers” as needed, and they did so with joy. He would spin his tales until his last listener was beckoned home for dinner and he was left to amuse himself with an extraordinary ending after which he would hop home to see what his own mother had cooked for dinner.
Every once in awhile however, Faust’s mother would come tugging on his ear after calling his name repeatedly, ringing the dinner bell unnoticed by this boy’s “selective hearing.” On those occasions Faust would cry out in character “Let me go free!” and “This behavior is unjustified and will not go unpunished by the gods.” The crowd was spooked into believing Faust’s mother was the Evil Queen of Doom delivering him a horrible fate. Sometimes his mother played along and scared the crowd into believing she was wicked. And when she did not play along, they believed her to be wicked anyway, for Faust could be heard crying out in the distance as his mother huffed in her struggle to get him home.
Faust’s mother was not really wicked. For any mother that would play along in her son’s games surely cannot be all that bad. Faust knew this to be true and he loved his mother more than anything else in this world. She was his best friend and she worked hard to feed him, clothe him, bathe him, and tend to his skinned knees and chaffed scales when he had played too hard. Each night she tucked Faust in bed and spun a tale more magnificent than Faust had ever told.
Faust closed his eyes and began to drift to the lilt in his mother’s voice …at times a soothing, cunning whisper welcoming the journey and dream.
Faust found himself in a canoe struggling to paddle against the current in an urgent attempt to deliver a message to the Green Cat of Bangladesh. This is a task more difficult in nature due to the constant change in direction, flowing sideways, upstream, downstream, and at times revolving in the same way as a Ferris wheel.
Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I did it in 3:25:55!!!
First, thank you to everyone that came out to support me! It was awesome!!! Darlene, Chris, Kate, Kyle, Kate's Brother Chris, My mom and Jack, Laura & George, my dad & Francine, it was so great to hear you cheer for me. Also, thanks to my coaches: Scott, Earl, Dave, Kim, Meghan, Jay, my mentor Amy & my adopted mentor Jay, and Kristine along with her staff for making this event possible.
Here's the story...
The day before race day there was much to do including riding up to the course to visualize our race. Staring at the Hudson River in an attempt to take it in and remain calm I noticed a dead rat floating in the water and several other unmentionables that were almost as nasty. Great! Dead rats, condoms, cigarette butts, bottles, and more…all make for a lovely swim. I'm amazingly calm!
That night I tried to heed the advice of one of our swim coaches, Earl, telling me to viisualize my race in its entirety and that this process is very important to doing great. Problem one: laying there in bed visualizing I kept dozing off before I finished the race in my mind. So, I would wake back up and start all over again. Needless to say, I did not get much sleep.
I woke up at 3:45AM (the alarm was set for 3:23AM). No problem. I had everything ready the night before. I quietly got dressed, loaded my bags and walked out the door at 4:15AM. I had to be at the transition area by 4:30AM. I stayed in the city with my mom and step-dad in order to get as much rest as possible and avoid having to deal with a subway early on a Sunday when they are problematic to begin with.
Arriving at the transition area at 72nd Street I was labeled with a grease pencil #674 on my left arm and left thigh and my age was penciled onto my calf. "I feel 23. Do you need to write &$%#@?" I entered the enclosed area with almost 800 bikes racked from the night before, found my bike and set my stuff up in a matter of minutes. It seemed too easy to me because as I looked around others were working furiously. I double checked my set up and it looked good. I lubed up, “If you love it, lube it!” the phrase Earl bestowed upon us. Sunscreen is next. What do you know? The grease marking smeared my age. Darn!
Next, I began to stretch and focus on my nerves. I did a little yoga and inspired a few others (their words) to do some too. Finally, it was time to head to the barge at 98th Street for the start of the race at 6AM. I grabbed my wetsuit, lube, bathing cap & goggles and walked with the entourage of women. Once up at 98th Street, I tossed my sandals and shorts into a bag & threw it into the box with my number. These items would be later transported to the finish line for pick up. How convenient.
I was in the 6th wave of women to swim, 6:20AM, donning white bathing caps. I cheered the other waves in front of me. I jumped up and down in excitement because the tide was going with us. I was thrilled! My fear of water would be shortened by such a great force of nature.
Next, it was my waves turn to line up on the barge. I was one of the first women to walk out onto the platform. Scott Willett, one of my coaches was out there and gave me a huge hug before I took my place to the far right where we had been advised to go. I jumped into the water without hesitating and grabbed onto the rope that would prevent us from floating away. I informed others around me that I would be holding the rope even after the horn blew. I don’t like being splashed, kicked or swam over. This would help prevent such things from happening. The horn blew and they were off. After about 3 seconds I took off. Suddenly, I heard my name, “GO ALYSSA!” I looked up and there were Darlene and Chris waving to me. I stopped swimming and put both hands into the air and waved back hooting and hollering to them. Oh yeah, I was in this race to win! Ha! I only had two goals, to finish the swim and to cross the finish line.
The water helped move me along. It was murky green…then, brown…and graphite black. I could not see my hand in front of my face. I was one of the few that preferred not to see what was around me. Yuck! A cigarette butt. Ew! Something slimy…I don’t want to know. A few moments of panic and I flip onto my back and look up at the sky to calm myself down. I flip back over and swim. I don’t feel like I am going anywhere. The tide has started to change direction and is now going against me. I wind up outside the buoy close the wall. No! I know that is where all of the real nasty stuff is lurking. Swim. Swim harder. Get back into the lane and away from the wall. I am almost there. 300 more meters. I hear Darlene cheering me all along the way. I feel the ground. I am there. A hand reaches down to help me up the ramp. 35 minutes…1 mile.
I am bursting with energy in this moment and I rip at my wetsuit pulling it down to my waist before anyone around me has theirs unzipped. My family is straight in front of me beaming with pride. My dad is crying as is my mom. Later, I am told they were both worried because they couldn’t find me in the water and they hadn’t seen me get out. Then, when they finally saw me, they were overwhelmed with joy! My dad put his hand in the air and I gave him a high-five as I ran by. This moment was the hightlight of the event. It was intense & ultra exciting! The perfect finish to concquering my fear.
A quarter mile run barefoot on pavement to the transition area. I am limping. I am not sure why.
I waste a little time in the transition area. I rip the wetsuit completely off, place it in a bag along with the goggles and bathing cap. Dry my feet off. Throw my socks and running shoes on. Pull on my bandana, baseball hat, sunglasses and helmet. Click! Toss the singlet over my head and pack the back pocket with Gu, an energy bar and a banana. I un-rack the bike and head to the start.
I am on the bike and I am told to slow down…curves ahead and merging with others. Up the hill, around the rotary, a hard left and I am on the Hudson Parkway. According to Chris and Darlene they could not get a picture because I went riding by too quickly. All they heard was “On your left” and I flew by passing others along the way.
What a beautiful ride! The water and skyline are tranquil. There are lots of rolling hills. Racers are on the side of the road fixing flats, bandaging wounds and cursing. There are arguments. There is glass on the road, drain grates, pot holes, toll booths and aggressive behavior as well as team spirit. We cheer one another on as we pass or get passed. The rules of the road don’t always exist. People are drafting and no one is backing off when they should…myself included except when it could be dangerous. Even then, some don’t pay any mind. Some idiots pass people on the right! Amazing! This is a blast!
I am not drinking nearly enough liquid. I realize this but I keep going. I’ll drink when I get to the top of the next hill BUT then I am flying downhill and I don’t want to slow…so, I don’t. All the way to Yonkers, turn around and head back the direction I came. Pass the exit & continue south, a sharp turn around a cone, head north again to the exit. There is my wonderful, crazy family running around on Parkeway towards the end of the 26 miles. George shouts, “Alyssa! Stay to the left!” I avoid huge pot holes by listening to his warning. An official shouts, “Slow down! Sharp turn ahead!” I slow and I am behind a rider going much slower than I but I hang there not sure if I am allowed to pass. I wait about a minute and then pass because I cannot contain myself. Next, I am off the bike and limping into the transition area once more. 1 hour 28 minutes – 26 miles. My legs are a little wobbly. Rack the bike. Remove the helmet because “I don’t wanna be that guy running with their helmet (which, by the way, I saw someone do later). Quickly, I throw off what I don’t need and head out for the run.
I am limping still. Urgh! Now, my left leg is cramping and so is my abdomen. Plus, I have to go to the bathroom. Hopefully, I spot a port-a-potty along the way. The police have stopped traffic along 72nd Street. I am hobbling. It is making me mad. I push. I have to stop and stretch. I push on again. The first mile is long. There is a water station. I grab a cup, take a swig and toss the rest over my head. Cool off! I have 5.2 more miles to run and I am in pain. I keep searching for Ken, my running partner the last few training sessions. He is nowhere to be found. Damn it! There’s a TNT person UP AHEAD. I can't seem to catch up. There GOES a TNT person cheering me along as they pass me by. Augh! Take me with you! Everyone I passed on the bike is now passing me on the run. Push. Stop. Stretch. Limp. 2 mile mark…take a swig of water and douse myself with the rest. I repeat this sequence at each mile mark. 2.5 miles to go and I hear a voice behind me. It is Mandy, one of my teammates. “I need you Alyssa. And, you need me. Let’s run together.” Great! She is running a faster pace than I and I need to stop and stretch BUT she does not let me! “No you don’t! I am not letting you stop! Breath deep. Stand up straight.” Take smaller steps. Say, I LOVE TO RUN on each step.” Step – I, step – LOVE, step – TO, step – RUN! It is working. I am running with her and trying to ignore the cramping down the back of my leg, across my ass and abdomen. I still have to go to the bathroom and the limp keeps coming and going. We are almost there. She tells me she can see the finish line and boom! I break into sprint. A second later I see Mandy out of my peripheral vision start to do the same. Damn it! I want this to be over with. I am sprinting BUT the finish line is NOT where I thought it was! Crap! I remain in a sprint and I see it in front of me…a short distance but long enough that I want to kick myself for sprinting too soon. I hang in there because the crowd is huge and I don’t want to stop. I see the clock above reads 3:44:something. I cross the finish line.
My official time is 3:25:55.
The run was horrible as you can see. It took me over an hour. I will do another triathlon. This time, I did it to complete the race. Next time, I will race myself. Now that I KNOW I can swim a mile I can focus on training all three areas swimming, cycling, running in an effort to trim time.
Guess what? I AM A TRIATHLETE!!!
My family and friends were all at the finish line to greet me. They hugged me! They didn’t care that I was stinky and sweaty and bathed in Hudson slick. They were too thrilled to keep it to themselves, as was I.
It is not often that my mom & dad are in the same place at the same time. Usually, there has to be a wedding or a funeral. But, here they were! I am totally happy!
The next day when I awoke my ankle was bruised to the bone. Perhaps this is why I was limping. Suddenly, I remembered someone had grabbed me by the ankle while swimming. It may have been an accident. Or, they could have been trying to pass me. I don’t really care. I am also astonished my muscles are NOT aching or cramping. By the way, I drank half the fluids I should have on the bike which explains the cramping while running. Live and learn, right?
AGAIN, thank you EVERYONE! There were 214 Team in Training members participating in this race of over 2000 people. Together we raised more than $630,000. For every mile, $19,000 goes towards helping people battling blood cancers to live better lives. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society makes this possible and YOU helped make this possibility a reality. Thank you!
***COMPLETED in HONOR***
* Jack & Francine Polacsek (Leukemia & Lymphoma) * Daniel Morris, 32 (Leukemia) * Gayle Silverman, 24 (Leukemia) * ALL individuals who are battling blood cancers.
***IN MEMORY*** *
*Frank A. Rolston - lost his battle to Leukemia shortly before Christmas 2004
***Special Thanks*** *Anonymous (you know who you are)*Laura - thanks for the bike!
*George - thanks for helping load it into the car & prep it *Nan Williams, Kate Rolston, Kyle, Darlene, Chris (a loveable pain in the ass!)
*Pamela (Reminding me not to give in to defeat)
*Tony & Kin at Brooklyn Heights Bike Shoppe - You Rock!
*ALL OF YOU *Veronica, Quinn, Thumper & Gizmo because everyone needs a little dog & feline nudge, kiss, woof and meow to get you through a triathlon.
Peace & love always!
Copyright © 2009 Alyssa Polacsek, Lakota Films, LLC & Natural Child Blog