April 29, 2006

The Pre-Race Psycho-Somatic Jitterbug Blues

Morning Workout
30 minute easy spin
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

10 minute easy run
Heart Rate Zone: Recovery (Zone 0) + Aerobic (Zone 1)

Random Comments: Tomorrow is race day, our first of three triathlons this season. Cat and I are down here in beautiful (and I use that term very loosely) Tampa, Florida with the rest of my family for St. Anthony's Tri - an Olympic distance extravaganza. Unfortunately, this morning's 30 minute easy spin and10 minute easy run were anything but easy, no thanks to that ridiculously challenging 16-ish mile run we had last Sunday. Cat's quads, legs, knees, and ankles are throbbing and my back has gone to complete hell. Ah, ya gotta love the pre-race psycho-somatic jitters.

I would really rather stay at the downtown Marriott, I told my mother when talking about our Tampa hotel accomodations for St Anthony's race weekend. What's wrong with the Tahitian Inn? she asked in that partly curious partly Jewish-guilt type of way that has become firmly ingrained in my family's communicative technique.

The Tahitian is nice (according to Florida standards, that is), but what with all the traffic lights and such, it just takes too long to commute from the hotel to my mother's house. It gets very frustrating and, being one who gets easily frustrated before competing, the last thing I want before a race is to compound my frustration with driving annoyances. The Marriott is a straight shot from downtown - a long road but only a few traffic lights away. And, besides, I am a proud member of the Marriott Rewards program and heaven knows I've gotta capitalize on those memberships so that I can properly build up enough points in order to receive absolutely nothing in return except perhaps a free croissant and a copy of USA Today at my door in the morning.

So Cat and I check into the Marriott yesterday, ready for a good night's sleep after a long day of travel. My first warning should've been when we were given a room on the second floor of the hotel. I've always found the higher floors of hotels to be much quieter and more pleasant. After all, any Vegas-frequenting individual knows that you harbor all of the riff-raff down there on the lower floors so they only ruin the evenings of the other riff-raff and not the do-gooders like me who just want a good night's sleep so we can be all rested and ready to throw away our money in peace the next morning.

Is this a quiet room? I ask.
Yes, the Marriott employee responds with seemingly friendly, if not fidgety, eyes.
I didn't say anything more.

My second warning was when we got off the elevator, turned to the right and within about two steps got to our room door. I harumphed to myself for being so close to the elevator, but with the promise of quiet still fresh in my mind, I didn't say anything more. We walked into the room and began to unpack.

I've stayed at Marriott's before and, aside from the really low-end chains, most of the Marriott hotels are pretty nice. This was not one of them. The carpet was old and scruffy, the furniture a few insects short of a yard sale and the bathroom was great, but only if you were used to doing your business in a Port-A-Potty. Yet I still didn't say anything. We were tired and we hadn't slept much the night before so we just wanted to go to bed and get a good night's rest.

Cat and I finished unpacking, closed the shades, turned off the lights and climbed into bed. We lay there silently, both of us inviting the unconscious blanket of serenity to wrap itself over our tired bodies. A few minutes later we were drifting off to sleep when it began. Three, perhaps even four guys were standing in the hallway talking a few decibels louder than the customary "inside voices." In an instant I snapped out of my pre-sleep phase. I lay still and listened to them. They must just be going into their room across the hall, I thought. It'll be quiet again soon. But, alas, they kept talking. And talking. And nary the sound of a room door opening was heard. Just them blabbing on and on about God knows what. After about fifteen minutes of this, as my wit was nearing the proverbial end, they finally got in the elevator and disappeared.

I looked over to see Cat lying still in the bed. I turned over quietly and spent the next five minutes willing myself back to that pre-sleep stage of uncoinsciousness. That didn't work so well. Within a few minutes I was rudely interrupted with a: Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........

What the...?! I perked my ears up a little more. A few seconds later it came again.

Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding!

It was the churning sound of the elevator that seemed to be emanating from a point about six inches beyond Cat's face. Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding! Right on the other side of the wall, a few inches beyond the edge of the bed was the motor that ran the hotel elevator.

Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding! it would go. And then silence would descend for five, maybe ten, perhaps even fifteen minutes. But inevitably it would move again.. Grrrrrrrrvvvvgggghhhh........ ding!

Suddenly Cat, who had remained eerily still and silent through this noisy drama, broke out into hysterics. The kind of hysterics one breaks into when things can't possibly get worse. She should've saved those hysterics for later in the evening.

This is ridiculous, I said.
I know, she roared through her laughter.
If it weren't for us having to re-pack at this hour of the evening, I'd change rooms immediately, I said.
No kidding, she concurred as her laughter mellowed out to a light chuckle.

We lay there in bed, willing ourselves to be lulled by the churning of the elevator wheels. And it must've worked because I was just short of falling head-first into sleep when, at about 2am, the tricked out, bass-pumping pimp mobile came to the party. It parked right at the hotel's front door, which, thanks to our prime room location, was about 5 feet below our front window. This car was booming music at levels previously unheard by the human ear. The bass was pounding so strong I couldn't even hear any other sounds but the BA-ROOM, BA-ROOM, BUMP BUMP, BA-ROOM of the bass. I was quickly shaken awake from my sleep.

Good Lord. OK, I said to myself, the car is just at the front door picking somebody up, it can't possibly stay there for too long. And I kept repeating this to myself for the first five minutes. Then fifteen minutes. Forty-five minutes later, with Cat snoring to the booming beat, I lay there wondering what the hell the car could possibly be doing. Are they robbing the Marriott? Are they holding the night-staff hostage until they hand over all of the mini-butter packets they could find? Can the Tampa Marriott really and truly be a homeboy hangout and if so aren't these people embarrassed? I mean, couldn't they find a better place to be at 3am than a Marriott?!

I thought about these things for quite awhile until it helped lull me to sleep. When I last looked at the clock it was 4am.
The alarm clock woke me at 6am as I angrily rolled out of bed and got ready for our bike and run.

Today we are checking out of the Marriott and moving to the Tahitian Inn.
I can't wait.