Saturday, May 16, 2009

A stroke of very bad luck

As you read this, my wedding ring is sitting at the bottom of Lake Norman.

Here's how it got there:

1. Coming up on 10 years ago, my wife and I picked out a "platinum" band for me for about $150, in an effort to save money for our "exotic" Rhode Island honeymoon. Within a few months, its shape had warped to "fit" my finger, and to this day is slightly oval.

2. As someone who's mildly claustrophobic, I got into the habit of not wearing it at home. (I also ditch my Tag Heuer within 60 seconds of walking through the door in the evening.)

3. I started running in September. Then, in January, I joined a running group.

5. A co-worker and I talked each other into signing up for the Tri Latta Triathlon held at Latta Park in June. The funny thing is, at the time, I didn't own a bike. And I hadn't been swimming for exercise -- well, ever. So ...

6. I bought a road bike. I bought swim gear. I started riding. I started going to the pool. Although, when I say "I started going to the pool," I mean I've been to the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center three times in the past three weeks. (In other words, my training has been pretty casual. It may in fact barely qualify as training.)

7. Meanwhile, the co-worker I registered for Tri Latta with decided to drop out. Fortunately, I know three other people -- including two in my running group -- who are also training for it. Unfortunately, their training makes my training look like ... well, I'll put it this way: Their training has not been casual. Lots of time in the pool. Lots of time on the bike. And on top of it all, they somehow manage to find time to run as much as (or more than) me every week.

8. Still, when one of them proposed doing one of the Lake Norman Y's open-water swims, I said, "Sure, why not?" (I've been known to volunteer for things I'm not prepared for in the past -- last December, I signed up for and ran my first half-marathon despite the fact that my longest training run had been 7 miles. In this case, I'd never swam more than 25 yards without stopping for at least a few seconds to catch my breath.)

9. Today was the day. We'd decided to meet at 6:20 a.m. to head up there. I set my alarm for 5:50. In the course of getting ready, I got to the point where it was time to decide whether or not to wear jewelry. The Tag was an easy decision; though it's water-resistant, it's also heavy. Not good for swimming. But for reasons I can't explain, I slid my wedding ring on. Even though there was a voice way in the back of my head asking me, "Why?"

10. Forgot it was on until I went out with the first wave of swimmers at 8 a.m. After letting the "pros" get going first, I started making slow, steady strokes through the water. And within about two minutes, I noticed -- amid all the kicking and splashing going on around me -- that my 10-year-old, oval-shaped ring was feeling a little loose. ...

11. Forgot that I noticed it was feeling a little loose until we were at the deepest point along the 800-yard course, as we were making the turn around the two furthest-out buoys. I was bringing my left arm back and the little bugger just flew off. My heart dropped. And -- for an instant -- I considered going under and conducting a frantic search. But an instant later, it passed. For one, it had become obvious hundreds of yards back, when I'd first put my big head under water, that the lake waters are not terribly clear. For another ... remember I said I hadn't been training much? Well, I knew I still had 10 more minutes of swimming ahead of me, and I didn't know if I still had 10 more minutes of swimming in me. I guess I decided in those 1.5 seconds that I didn't need to risk death-by-drowning over a $150 "platinum" ring.

And that's how my wedding ring wound up at the bottom of Lake Norman. I emerged from the water feeling great about the personal victory -- that is, having completed the swim freestyle, without needing to resort to the doggy paddle or the sidestroke or the backstroke -- and yet also bummed about the personal loss.

As for my wife? She said it's not a big deal, and I believe her. Our 10th anniversary is coming up in December, so an upgrade for both of us was fairly imminent. But it'll still go down as a Hall of Shame moment.

Which leads me to my question of the day: Have you ever lost anything of value -- sentimental or monetary -- while training, or during a race?


Anonymous said...

At least it didn't wind up there because you threw it there! Looks like an upgrade was in the making. Turn it into a good wife/hubby shopping event.

Chad R. said...

Similar thing happened to a rafting buddy of mine at the Whitewater Center last summer. I'm sure they wouldn't have allowed it, but it would have been fun to snorkel the calm waters and look for it. Maybe I'd also find the sunglasses I lost there.