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Earworms and Triathlons

My amazing friend, Julie - who heads huge companies and takes on challenges like I take on tins of Garrett’s Popcorn (Chicago Mix, of course) - asked me if I wanted to do a half triathlon with her this summer.

Ten days before the triathlon.

She made it sound easy - or - not a big deal, anyway. We would view it as A Morning Of Exercise. “Come on!” She said, “You’ve got ten days to train!”

Since I want to be just like Julie as bad as men in the 90’s wanted to Be Like Mike - I said “OK!”

I wouldn’t recommend this.

My cobwebbed bike went for a tune-up. I would get it back two days before the race.

And I became obsessed for ten days.

I practiced the 5k. Doable.

I cut out sugar and alcohol. Impossible.

I googled and googled and googled triathlon ok bathing suits. Frustrating.

I swam in the tiny pool - 75 times back and forth to equal a half mile. Freaking. Freaking. Freaking about the swim.

I complained hourly to Chris: why, why, why did I say I could do this? No sympathy. Lots of encouragement though.

I’m going to freak in the lake!!! I told Chris. A lake is not a pool.

“You will.” He answered. He, being an accomplished Triathlete.

“You need to find your song,” he said, “keep it in your head to swim to. Not too fast. Not too slow.”

Day three into “training” I come across an article in the NYT about Earworms. This is a thing! Not that creepy ear wax colored bug the earwig; but Earworms, which are thoughts and memories triggered by music. Or vice versa. You hear a song- your brain brings up an image. Or an experience brings to you a song. You know, like:

I hear:

- Led Zeppelin “Houses of the Holy” and I am transported back to my yellow flowered bedroom in the 70's with the GIANT black speakers.

- any Counting Crows song and I think of my friend, Paula, who told me to listen to “Mr. Jones.”


- I drive around any lake in a small car and my mind goes to the song “Radar Love,” which I first heard in my girlfriend’s Volkswagen Bug as we zoomed around a little lake in Minnesota the summer that song came out.

Who remembers songs like “Radar Love”??? Earworms.

You name a song and Chris can tell you where he was when he first heard it. He has amazing earworms.

When I volunteered at the Memory Floor at our local nursing home, we would sing with the Alzheimer patients. The same lovely folks who couldn’t tell you their daughters’ or sons’ names - sang every verse of Harvest Moon or any other 40’s song.

I needed a song for the triathlon. But it actually wasn’t determined until I jumped into lovely little Lake Andrea in Wisconsin at the all women Iron Girl Triathlon, and took my first strokes.

Camp. I went with a (forgotten) friend to a camp up north in Minnesota and every morning we sang:

The sun is up and so is (each of our names got a turn here).

Sun is up and so is (at the triathlon I started singing JULIE JULIE)

Sun Is UP! and so is Julie, Julie,

Children of the Lord!

Did I mention it was some sort of religious camp? My family was not particularly religious - I mean to the point of going to summer camp for religion. But here I came home belting out every day that summer:

SOOOOO rise and shine and give God your glory glory!

Rise and shine and give God your glory glory!

RISE and SHINE and give God your glory glory, children of the Lord.

At Camp we would sing this - belt it out - and jump into a freezing lake and wash our hair. OH! The pollutants back then. Bad bad.

Rise and Shine got me across Lake Andrea to the transition area where I spent five minutes trying to pull my shorts on over my wet bathing suit. (Yes, they time your transitions)

My tuned up bike got me through the bike course. A LOT of woman zoomed right past my tuned up bike and said stuff like: “You got this!!” And my endorphins were so cranked I wanted to yell back to each and every one of them I LOVE YOU!!!!

Btw, training on the bike would’ve been helpful.

Rise and Shine in my mind got me through the 5K! And I crossed that damn finish line.

Julie and I had our Morning Of Exercise and vowed to do it every year. She took off right away for a shower, a baby shower and an airplane ride to California for work.

I spent the day on the couch thinking of lakes and music and how to shave off a minute or two in next year’s race.

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