Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can't Register Unless You Have A Good Story

Yesterday, I completed the registration process for the Foster Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Clearwater, Florida (that's a mouthful!). It took about three hours, two false starts, and I have more gray hair now than I did yesterday morning.

It all starts with a piece of paper. After you pay your registration fee at the qualifying race, you are handed a qualification "letter" with a password and an outline of the registration process (what, I'm not registered completely when I write the check???). After the line "please make certain you do not lose this letter," the bullets on the page explain exactly how and when you are to "complete your registration" and exactly what will happen during the registration process.

Except, what's on the page is not what happened yesterday when I started the registration process on Now, I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack, but I'm pretty sure I can follow directions, and my first attempt looked almost entirely unlike what was described in the directions. So I gave up. But because I started already, I deleted my browser cache and cookies just to be sure my first attempt "history" was eradicated.

Then I ate lunch. Before attempting the registration again, I had to be sure my morning swim had not depleted me of more than physical energy.

I made attempt number two. Attempt number two was entirely unlike attempt number one. This time, the Ironman site had a message telling me to login to (hmmm.. did I miss this the first time? or was it not there?). I decided to login first because I never got the option in the previous attempt. Then I clicked the qualifier link on A-ha! After completing the waiver, the system "found me" and the "continue" button actually showed up on the page this time. I clicked it and proceeded to the registration page. Cool. Name, password, address, emergency contact, USAT number, ... easy enough.

NOT EASY. After the factual details, the registration page requires (yes, REQUIRES) you to tell stories. I tried to submit the form without stories. I got a big red line of text telling me to COMPLETE THE REQUIRED INFORMATION. I closed the browser. I had no stories.

The REQUIRED INFORMATION was none other than what seems to be a request for a "human interest story." I wondered: does everyone have a story to tell? What if I just want to challenge myself? I felt guilty I had nothing to write. And I couldn't remember what I wrote the last time I completed such a form -- perhaps I just typed: "not applicable."

I thought about it. OK, I have a story. I went back to my computer. I made attempt number three. In addition to Education, Occupation, and Employer, I looked at the following three items:
  • Significant Personal Achievements
  • Interesting facts about you
  • Please share significant information relating to your 2010 Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3 training or participation
There it was: "Interesting facts about me." I entered the following:
My nickname is Disaster Magnet because almost every time I enter a race, some kind of natural disaster occurs at the race location.
There it is. And here's the history to back it up:
  • Ironman Utah 2002: freak wind creates huge waves during swim, buoys blow away, athlete drowns, swim is canceled, race is reconfigured.
  • Ironman Hawaii (Kona): uncharacteristic rain all week, race day rain creates havoc for first few hours of race.
  • Whirlpool Steelhead Ironman 70.3 (Benton Harbor, MI) 2008: swim canceled at last minute due to dangerous surf, AFTER athletes already completed warm ups.
  • Greater Cleveland Triathlon 2008: Swim canceled due to dangerous surf (in Lake Erie of all places).
  • Firmman Half-Iron Triathlon (Narragansett, RI) 2008: Race canceled due to Hurricane Hanna.
  • Pittsburgh Marathon: downpour followed by a bomb scare in downtown Pittsburgh.
  • Mooseman Ironman 70.3: downpour entire race, and the day before, the Olympic-distance race had to be reconfigured due to early morning severe thunderstorms and road washout.
  • (The non-race disaster) In 2003, I was hit by a car while riding my bike - six days before Half-Ironman Utah and couldn't race due to head and neck injuries.
I don't know if being the Disaster Magnet will make me a human interest story, but you never know. Stranger things have happened. And I needed a story.

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