Fear of my Landlord and Olympic Distance Triathlon

I’m scared of my landlord, half the time. I have no idea why, he’s a great guy. He’s friendly, funny, and really quite sweet. And I’m petrified of the man.

It could be because I’m the world’s worst housekeeper, and I stress myself to death that I’m not taking care of the house well enough. I worry that he’ll see the stain on the carpet, the children’s hand prints on the wall which defy any scrubbing I’ve done, and that he’ll tell me I’m not a good tenant, that really, he thinks I should find another house (because it was hell finding a place suitable for us, so the gods know I do not want to go through that ordeal again anytime soon).

It could be because Landlord is very Irish, and Irish people are still somewhat of a mystery to me even after almost five and a half years of living here. Most Dundalkers’ talk sounds like plain English to me, one’s ear adapts that well. But my landlord’s accent is quite strong, and I have to strain to  follow what he says. On top of that, there’s innuendo and unspoken meaning in Irish people’s conversation which you can only understand if you have a relative named Paddy.

It could be because I don’t really understand him as a person, or know what to make of him or how I should act to him half the time. We’re landlord and tenant, and as such I almost feel obliged to call him maaaaaster and walk with a limp. But we’re also kind of friends beyond that, so my brain short circuits whenever he’s near, unable to decide whether to be businesslike or joke around. Invariably, once we start chatting, I relax because, as I said, he’s genuinely a nice person. Then afterwards, I become convinced I’d made a mistake. I wonder for ages if he was joking that the dust is disgraceful or if he really was upset about it.

It could be because he’s an athlete I admire, someone who did an Ironman, moved on to cycling only and performs well with that. He’s at the head of a very successful triathlon club, able to work with a team of other people I am in awe of to organise well-run races. I happen to be a member of this triathlon club. Today, the presence of my much feared landlord helped me from a panic freeze and off to complete my first ever Olympic distance triathlon. Continue reading


View from the Rear Part Two

This is a continuation of this post, which you really should read first if you want to make any sense of what follows.

Thanks to the kind efforts of a lady called Nuala, who calmed me and assured me it was fine, I managed to overcome my ego and do my thing.  I didn’t finish the race – having only trained three weeks at that point, I hadn’t intended to, I wanted to get a feel for what it would be like – and copped out after the bike leg.  And even though it was part of the plan, falling out felt like a betrayal, like a slunking off.  I was starving, so I went into the pub for tea and sandwiches.  I got a few looks from the hard men at the tables, and they all said to me: you didn’t finish*.  You don’t deserve these sandwhiches, that cup of tea.  I would finish the next one, I vowed.  And so, I did.

I finished it so long after everyone else, that the long horizontal poles on which the bikes are hung in the transition area, were all packed away.  Not another bicycle was in sight – well, except for the mountain bike with which the only person slower than me had tackled the race.

Let me tell you, there is no feeling as awful as the one of crossing the finish line to no other sound than that of your own laboured breathing, getting handed a slip of paper with your time on by a guy of few words who you can almost hear thinking: ‘finally’, scraping together your gear in an abandoned, quiet parking lot, then slinking to your car to pack it away.   Continue reading

View from the Rear Part One

This all started with a bread board.  I stood behind a group of exceptional humans as I contemplated the fact.  They were special because they were all made from bone, sinew, and muscle.  Especially muscle.  Fat?  Nah.  Fat cells disintegrated on contact with these people.  I got thinner just standing near them.  My cycling shorts and running shoes were little more than a disguise: I was an impostor here.  My cotton tee shirt came closer to the truth, bearing the legend: “Pete Puma’s Super Intelligence Serum – favoured by morons everywhere”.

I can’t say for sure what went through their heads as we waited for the ‘start’ signal that would mark the beginning of the race, but I can guess.  I’m sure it was serious stuff, like a mental visualisation of them running the 3.2km course through the rural paths near Dundalk where the race took place, making a smooth change from runners to cycling shoes, pedalling hard and efficiently through the 17km cycling leg, then repeating the 3.2km run and finishing strong.  Maybe some were thinking of the person they wanted to beat this time, pictured themselves passing him or her and crossing that magic finish line first.

I’m not entirely sure if anyone else was pondering the profound influence of bread boards.

Continue reading