If it is true that you ‘get back what you put out there’ and the power of positive thinking can bring us Oprah-esque levels of success if we just try really hard to think Secret-style happy thoughts, if all that is true, then it is also true that Sunday morning I broke the car with my mind.
Once in high school on the way to a weekend speech tournament (for which you had to get up ungodly early and do your make-up and hair and put on a power suit — probably explaining my predilection now for sweats and forgetting to shower), I was laying half-asleep in the bus seat thinking about how I really didn’t want to do this and if only something would happen so we didn’t have to go to another high school cafeteria and make passionate speeches about recent world news. And, then, the bus broke down. After 15 minutes on the side of a freeway somewhere in Illinois, I decided actually I’d like to compete afterall and we should get a move on it, and magically — upon that thought — the bus started working again. I point to this and that one time I swear I locked the door by thinking hard at it as proof of my Jedi-like abilities.
I did not want to race Tri for Real on Sunday. I’d been going back and forth all week, until Saturday I signed up because I needed to snap out of this shit. Of course, then, Saturday night I was awake all night freaking out some more. When my alarm went off after 2 hours of sleep, I did not want to drive 100 miles to race. I dragged myself around the house. I took my temperature, hoping maybe I had a fever and shouldn’t race. I stood in the hallway and worried about going all the way there just to have a repeat of that episode in San Jose when I laid down on the side of the road in the middle of a race and started to cry. (In retrospect, that actually happened at two separate races in San Jose. The city, itself, may prompt spontaneous crying.) Finally, 20 minutes late, I snapped out of it and got ready to go. Because you can’t fall into the trap of not racing just because you don’t feel super excited at 4:45 a.m. on race morning; otherwise, you’d talk yourself out of 90% of races.
I made it an hour, with another 50 minutes to drive, when the red car battery light came on. I’m pretty sure that’s one of those serious lights you need to pull over for, so I got off the highway and found the car booklet thing. Apparently, a red battery light means ‘Proceed immediately to the nearest Volkswagen dealership.’ Of course, it was 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday, so even if I could make it to a dealership, it’d really just be a place to sleep in my car until Monday morning when it opened. I did some phone Googling and trying to look under the hood and calling the Volkswagen hotline just to find out what I should do and getting disconnected and calling back and having some guy tell me that ‘Oh yes, Darren is going to call you right back after he finishes putting in your order.’ YOU ARE LYING, I didn’t say. THERE IS NO ORDER. YOU ARE LYING TO ME. Of course, he never called back. Eventually, it was decided I would drive to Autozone 25 minutes away, or longer when you’re going 40 mph in the far right lane of the freeway in case the car battery suddenly dies.
In case you can’t tell from the photo above, the hood of our car is sort of smashed a bit. It’s all just (incredibly expensive) bodywork, not anything seriously wrong. But, we hadn’t been able to get the hood open recently. The guys at our car shop said you just have to “pull really hard.” It turns out that means REALLY hard. Like stupid hard. So, when I got to Autozone just after it opened, I was trying to pull the hood up, standing on the bumper and yanking, the whole car moving up and down. And, the guy came out to ask if I need help. Actually, yes, but not with this; this actually how you do this.
I am now a fan of Autozone, fyi. They spent over an hour helping me figure out what was wrong, charging my battery, testing it, pulling it out and putting it on the super charging machine, testing the alternator — all for free. It was determined the alternator needed to be replaced and the battery was rapidly losing power (information I had to then pay another $100 to the auto shop for Monday morning). With the battery charged 100%, though, I could make it home. Carefully.
It turns out that at least 67% of the tired shittiness you feel after a race is simply from getting up at 4:45 a.m., getting ready and pumping yourself up, driving far, and dealing with things. I felt at least almost as messed up as I would have if I had actually raced and I only eventually made it home about 45 minutes earlier than if I’d gotten all the way there and done the race. I had to take a nap.
But, I’m half-convinced the world was saving me from myself by not letting me race. The power of negative thinking.