Disclaimer: Not all events in the story below are factual.
“So this is where Coach lives.” Rod scanned the familiar surrounding landscape as Austin nonchalantly made a U-turn with one hand on the steering wheel and the other on his cowboy hat while screaming “Yeeee-haaawwww,” gracefully parking the Tacoma truck in front of a series of quaint, mission-styled condominiums. Silence ensued. Rod turned to Austin and queried, “Ok I get the hat, but why the green speedo?” As it turned out, Austin had a speedo for every occasion. This one just happened to be his road-trip pair.
The two friends unloaded the car and looked around the quiet neighborhood, completely unsure of which residence belonged to Coach Mateo. As they walked further and further west, they began to hear the faint sound of the voice that shadows them even in their dreams. “SMASH IT; NAIL IT; BOP IT; TWIST IT.” They followed the noises until they arrived at the source. Just as the two expected, their Coach was motivating LC through her sixth workout of the day: a mean game of Bop-It. “Alright LC, good work! Now go eat the house down, you animal!” Coach turned to the boys and told them to throw their stuff in the car and come inside after for some bladder alleviation and water.
Austin and Rod sniffed around the ground floor of the pad as Coach cleaned up Luna’s poop outside. The home had everything they imagined it would: hand sanitizer around every corner, a bookshelf stacked with literature on sports psychology and training, a sink, a prized bowl from the Ironman World Championships, a framed picture of Rod running when he was 10 years old. Finally it was time to depart on the seven hour journey to San Diego that, in hindsight, could only be described as _________.
Ten minutes into the ride and Coach was starving. “Boys, I’ve only had nine eggs, two pounds of pasta, a Chipotle burrito, and six glasses of milk today. We NEED to get some Gel-a-to.” The car exited the freeway and stopped in front of a small shop. The three men commandingly entered the store and were instantly stopped in their tracks, overwhelmed by the mixture of odors of Italy, waffles, and sweetened cows. Rod was facing a deep internal struggle:
“I just remembered I’m lactose-intolerant.”
“I just remembered you’re a loser,” Coach rebutted.
“Yeah, you suck,” Austin chimed in, hoping to feel included.
In an effort to fit in and prove his peers wrong, Rod boldly indulged on three baseball-sized scoops of Gel-a-to, one of which being pistachio flavored, the “dankest” according to Coach Mateo. The remainder of the car ride was filled with intermittent explosions of flatulence from Rod’s rear-end that one-third of the car would describe as symphonic, while the rest would demand repulsive.
Time on the road was killed chattering about training, goals, teammates, relationships, and addictions. In fact, the three musketeers developed such a close trust in the few hours that they went in a rotation, each revealing their darkest addictions. Out of respect to the individuals, they cannot be revealed, but Austin’s was online speedo shopping.
Traffic was unforgiving and Coach was in desperate need of a bathroom and assigned Rod the daunting task of finding one “just off the exit.” Most people would crack under the pressure Rod was faced with in this situation, but he saw this an opportunity to make his Coach cry tears of fulfillment. He remembered Coach Mateo confessing from earlier in the car ride when the three of them were sharing their lifelong dreams, “One day I want to see the UCLA campus. Not just see it, but feel it. Feel it by visiting any old bathroom on the campus, even if it’s at a Chevron gas station, unzipping my denims, and urinating. YEAH!” Austin, of course, wanted a Speedo for every day of the year.
“Exit now!” Rod yelled so loud that he saw a drop of blood shed from Austin’s inner ear. Austin and Coach wondered where they were going as Rod navigated the car through the busy streets of Los Angeles. “University of California Los Angeles”, a sign read. Coach Mateo screamed at the top of lungs, “ROD, WHAT THE HECK!” Rod knew he made his Coach proud. The car took the long way around the beautiful campus, slowing nearby the stressed-out students for Austin to poke his head out the window at and harrass, until it arrived at the Chevron gas station Coach only imagined existing in his dream.
The car was back on the road again and the next few hours were filled with stories from Coach Mateo’s days as a Jersey shore lifeguard with a majestic head of hair who could catch any fish in the deep blue sea (innuendo intended). Austin and Rod countered back with stories of their own very recent “experiences”, reminding their Coach of what is was like to be an alpha male in his twenties. The bro-talk was finally interrupted as the three agreed it was time for dinner. Rod used his expert navigational skills to pinpoint a Whole Foods in Huntington Beach where the travelers would experience laughter of the ninth degree by using the restroom and making salads.
“Go right,” Rod ordered, as the car turned away from the Whole Foods on their left. “Okay, now make a U-turn and go straight.” The kid was known for never taking the shorter route anywhere. The car parked in the Whole Foods parking lot and Coach Mateo, Rod, and Austin power-walked quicker than their warmup shuffle pace on track days to the bathroom located at the far end of the market. Two urinals and a stall. Coach and Austin scurried to the urinals as Rod waited his turn. Austin did not know the stall was occupied by someone other than Rod and let out a ten-second-long fart that would resonate back in time and knock over a dinosaur, ultimately changing the whole course of the future. Austin looked back and saw Rod’s still face in shock. The two looked each other in the eyes and began uncontrollably giggling like first graders in love. Not that they were in love… It was just funny. Coach Mateo could not hold in his giggles either and the three of them burst into laughter in the confined restroom while an innocent middle-aged working man was left uncomfortably witnessing it all in the safety of his stall.
The laughter continued as the three mature men exited the restroom and grabbed boxes for their salads. Forgetting they had to pay for their food, the hungry squad piled the vegetables into their boxes. It was the beginning of the end when Rod spotted the densely-packed guac. He shoveled spoonfuls into his box and hardly got it to close. It was time to pay and Rod handed over his box to the cashier whose eyes became wide open as he could hardly lift Rod’s meal. The scale read 39 pounds. “That’ll be $35.89,” the tattooed cashier chuckled. Rod began to riot and created an uprising. “This place is corrupt!” he screamed. No one had his back so he ended up paying.
It was Austin’s moment of truth, although before entering the line to pay, his peripheral vision caught something he would later call “the most valuable thing in his life”, and it was not even a speedo. No one would have guessed a Whole Foods Market would carry Oakley sunglasses, but this one did. Austin found the pair he had always asked for on his birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Groundhog Day but never received. Justifying the $250 purchase, he reasoned, “The shades make the racer,” as he also paid an additional $26 for his meal. Coach threw down big bucks as well and the three complained in the car about how the salads “weren’t even that good” while simultaneously continuing to receive an abdominal workout laughing about the restroom debacle.
Just as they were about to leave the parking lot, Sophia and Julia who had left Santa Barbara an hour after the manmobile, were spotted entering the Whole Foods. They were signaled to come over and hellos and hugs were exchanged. Austin, ecstatic about his latest eyewear purchase, showed his sweetheart his new Oakley’s. “They’re okay. I don’t really like the lenses,” Sophia commented. Austin was confused, but brushed it off. The girls went inside the store and the men were back on the road.
The final hour and a half of the car ride was filled with music videos of Jay Z and Kanye West, Coach singing the entire soundtrack of The Muppets Movie, the first ten minutes of Austin’s favorite movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” rewatched four times, and speculation on the performances of individuals on the team racing Draft Legal the next day. Coach asked Rod and Austin how they thought Gordon would do in the field with professionals. “Gordon just needs to keep his heart rate under 202 on the swim so he won’t drop dead,” Rod joked. The others chuckled along, knowing that this was indeed a ridiculous statement. No one can survive with their heart beating that fast for that long. Austin then asked how they thought Sean would do. “BIG SEAN HARRRRRYYYYY!” Coach responded. And that was that.
The talk resumed with speculation on the girls race. “I just want Sophia to have a good race so she’ll let me wear her speedo tomorrow,” Austin inputted. Rod and Coach Mateo looked at each other and exchanged confused looks. “Okay, how about Jenn?” Coach asked. “She’s been smashing the swim and the bike lately.” Rod and Austin both agreed that if Jenn went full-mermaid on the swim, she would be in a prime pack on the bike to pull her to a great time.
Of course, there was also Konnor, Emme, and Savannah to be accounted for, but before the three travelers knew it, they had arrived in front of the Angela manor in San Diego.
“Wow. What a trip boys,” Coach Mateo exclaimed as he patted Rod and Austin on the back. “Remember my three rules. I’ll see you guys in the morning.”
Rod and Austin would never forget Coach Mateo’s three rules.
Day 1 – Draft Legal:
4:30 a.m. PST
The ring of “Carry on my Wayward Son” stirred the racers, although most were already awake. It was a restless night of sleep, yet the racers felt alert. Perhaps it was nerves, but more likely just anticipation for the race to come. Austin was slow to emerge from the cocoon that was his sleeping bag, but the smell of oatmeal reminded him that his growling belly needed nourishment. As he crawled out, Konnor noticing all Austin was wearing was his pink speedo and asked, “Austin, do you always sleep in a speedo?”
Austin responded, “Pretty much, yeah. But I only bust out my pink one when I need little extra luck. It’s the best way to guarantee a good day. And I know today is gonna be a good day because I just bought these sick new Oakley’s and I’m stoked to finally get to wear them,” as he showed off his brand new $250 Oakley’s.
Some food in the belly, and desperately needed coffee to fuel their caffeine addictions, left the racers feeling sharp and ready to go. As they stepped out of Angela’s house the chill of the early morning could be felt, but the racers knew the day would be plenty warm. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody could be heard blasting from Jenn’s car as they peeled out towards the race. Konnor, Jenn, and Emme belted out the lyrics, “Bismillah! No we will not let you go - LET HIM GO!” Momentarily all nerves were gone, and the racers didn’t have a care in the world.
6:30 a.m. PST
“Alright racers, this is the draft legal race in case you didn’t know what you signed up for,” the head official started. “This a three lap race. You can choose either karts or bikes. After all, this isn’t the classic race. Only standard power ups will be allowed, including banana peels, shrooms, and shells. Good luck and watch out for blue shells.”
Mateo turned to the racers and said, “Alright team, you’re ready to go. We’ve put the training in and I know you’re gonna crush it. Every single one of these racers are shaking in their boots, and I expect total annihilation. No pressure. But seriously, total annihilation.”
Coach was interrupted by banging in the distance. A line of anxious athletes were pounding the bathroom door with a fallen tree. Several hours later, Rod emerged, shaken. He said to Austin, “Dude, I seriously can’t poop...That gelato was not a good idea.”
Gordon looked over at Sean as they walked down towards the water, “Sean, I just realized I forgot my wetsuit.” Sean responded, “Ah shucks, Gordon! Lucky for you I always bring an extra. Wait no, that's just my blow up dolphin that I bring an extra of. I think it’ll work though.”
Meanwhile, while the girls were out jogging warming up, Sophia noticed that the pink speedo Austin was wearing was her swimsuit. “Austin! Why did you take my bottoms?” Austin responded, “Don’t worry baby cakes, here is some race nutrition to make it up,” as he handed her some jelly beans to stick on her top tube during the race. This only fueled her fury, as Austin should have known she hated black licorice flavor and that was all he gave her. Swelling up in an awesome rage, Sophia grabbed his brand new Oakley’s off his face yelling, “WOINK!”, proceeded to drop them and gave them one good stomp. “Ooops, Sorry. Gotta go get ready to race…”
6:50 a.m. PST
As the men’s crew started their swim warmup, Gordon commented, “Guys, there’s a lot of algae out here.” Sean responded, “Gordon, those are Jellyfish!” Konnor added, “Jellyfish are a lot bigger than I remember,” as a 400 pound jellyfish could be seen gobbling up one of the lifeguards. Sean warned Gordon, “If a jellyfish comes after you, just try a love ballad. They seem to like that.”
As the racers lined up along the start line the remaining life guards continued to try to push the racers back as they kept wanting to creep further and further forward. A faint toot could be heard. Sean looked over at Jon disgusted and yelled, “Jon, I told you not to get extra beans last night.” Jon responded, “That wasn’t me. You know I’d claim it if it was.” All of a sudden the racers realized that sound was in fact a measly air horn signifying the start of the race, and they were off in a mass of splashing and kicking.
During the swim, one of the swimmers could be seen riding a dolphin near the front of the pack. Mateo exclaimed, “My god! I think that Gordon got himself a magical dolphin!” Gordon emerged from the water at the front of the swim pack having crushed the competition with his blow up dolphin. Shortly after came a wave of USA team members in wildly chasing. In T1 Gordon looked around at all the team USA kits, and momentarily believed he was racing for team Argentina in the Rio Olympics. Mateo’s screaming voice shook him back to reality as he realized the competition was getting away.
A few minutes later Sean, and shortly behind, Konnor and Jon, could be seen in hot pursuit out of T1. Jon, who was so sure he’d beat Sean out of the water let out a deafening roar, “BIGSEANYHARRY!!!” as he angrily sat down to put on his bike shoes. Sean was unfazed and scurried out of T1 chasing after a UCSD guy ahead of him. Upon realizing who was ahead of him, he exclaimed, “What up, Bill Jones!” Bill Jones responded, “BIGSEANYHARRY! Did you bring dem Hamm sandwiches?” Sean replied, “Of course I’m bringing dem Hamm sandwiches, but right now, we gotta chase some chumps down,” as they proceeded to chase some chumps down. Konnor could be seen pulling a pack of 20 guys and wounded gazelles desperately trying to hang onto his wheel. Most of them couldn’t hang, but those that could, couldn’t pull.
Knowing the race was going so well, Gordon and Konnor decided that they didn’t need to break any pros’ hearts. They posted up in T2 where they were serving burritos and fruity drinks with umbrella straws. Soon after, Sean came racing through, chasing after the pros shortly ahead. As he rounded lap two, Mateo could be heard yelling, “You got them by the balls! NOW SQUEEZE!” And so he did.
8:00 a.m. PST
A shotgun blast signified the start of the girls’ race. After a scuffle with a jellyfish, a strange sensation overcame Jenn as she sprouted mutant fins. She buried the competition with her new found mermaid fin. Savannah, Emme, and Sophia decided a racing shell (crew boat) would be faster. Savannah could be heard yelling, “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” as they rowed in unison. Somehow despite their team effort, they were quite separated by the time they came out of T1. Sophia was seen scolding Austin, and Emme getting her Strava going.
Savannah found a pack of 3 other girls as they neared the bridge to Fiesta Island. As they crossed the bridge, one of the girls exclaimed, “We’re on a bridge, Charlie!” Emme, only moments behind, was pulling a pack of 10 girls. By the end of the bike leg, all 10 girls had fallen off the back, unable to hang.
Upon the conclusion of the bike, the UCSB girls were in terrific position. After a ferocious bike, Jenn decided it would be more fun to moonwalk the whole run. While one girl was getting passed by Jenn moonwalking, Jenn broke out in an uncontrollable laughter, supposedly at a joke she made to Gordon, but possibly at the poor U of A girl’s expense. Savannah blasted through the run, using a jet propulsion pack to get a little extra boost. After wheelbarrowing with Emme for the first mile, Sophia left her behind and began passing girls left and right. Presumably, it was close to a hundred girls, but no one can be sure.
“Team what a great effort today,” Mateo began. “I’m really proud of what you did out there. “Gordon and Jenn, way to crush that swim. That dolphin was genius, although maybe you should have saved it for Nats. Now the competition will know to expect it. Emme and Konnor, those were some great bike splits. Those other guys just couldn’t hang! Sean, I’m glad you heard me yelling at you, but it was meant as more of a figurative squeeze. That poor Cal guy’s balls really gotta be hurting now. But either way, good work out there! Rod, you’ll conquer that toilet. Just give it some time. Maybe eat some leafy greens tonight. That’ll loosen you right up. Alright guys, get some food and rest tonight and you’ll be ready to nail it tomorrow. I can’t wait to see how you guys come back!”
The whole team was finally reunited, bellies filled with a combination of pasta, pizza, chipotle, and leafy greens. Spirits were high. During a crazy game of heads up, screams of laughter and fun could be heard resonating through Angela’s house. As the team actioned with a waving motion with their hands, making a “shooshing” noise, Nick Jones's confidently guessed “Shut the f*** up!” knowing exactly what they were doing. It was a beautiful night full of magic, love, and intimate team bonding. Only those that were there can truly understand the depth of the companionship built. The team proceeded to bed, anxiously ready for the dawn tomorrow. The racers swiftly fell asleep to the lullaby that was Rod’s and Austin’s butt flutes.
Day 2 – Classic:
After a relaxing night of laughter and Rod’s and Austin’s belching farts, the UCSB triathletes found themselves well rested as they followed scents of omelets and chipotle burritos to the kitchen for the hearty breakfast which they all knew they would need. Not unexpectedly, Austin was found wearing a black speedo in mourning of the loss of his prized Oakley’s. In the backyard, the normally early riser, Konnor was visible through the sparks, welding together a new bike for Minsu, using nothing but paper clips, while muttering something about team bike fits. After breakfast, head of household Angela successfully directed traffic through the house and bathrooms.
Along with the first rays of sunlight, Rod’s moans of satisfaction could be heard echoing across transition as his gel-a-to induced constipation finally subsided. Meanwhile the other competitors thought this was a battle cry and shrank in fear at the grotesque sound, but were simultaneously awed as the Great Ricky Waltman pulled the bike trailer with his bare hands to a parking spot. Upon the arrival of the bike trailer, the triathletes bum rushed the trailer only to wait another half an hour as each bike was individually removed, reassembled, and handed to its rightful owner.
During warm-up Austin could be seen silently moping to himself under a tree, holding his once pristine pair of shattered glasses as Sophia menacingly towered over him. Around the same time, Rod was spotted running a marathon. Meanwhile, Savannah practiced her intense race face in the mirror and Jose bribed the race director into letting him enter the race.
Once the group was together, Coach Mateo lectured the team on always wearing mountaineering and ski clothing to stay warm in the frigid Southern California weather. Soon afterwards, Gordon and Julia found a crystal clear patch of water amid the dark brown and green ocean to practice open water swimming and warm up in their wetsuits while Coach was saying something about washing your hands after swimming in that filth. The rest of the team was probably doing something else dreading the fact that they would have to swim.
In the chaotic frenzy at the start line, Logan shrieked thinking a shark had rubbed up against her, only to realized that it was actually the girl next to her lining up at the in water start, but then shrieked again when at least three jellyfish harmlessly bobbed to the surface in front of her. Celine found her inner demon and attacked the swim fists first literally pushing competitors off course, exiting the water with one of the fastest swim splits on the team.
During the bike leg Coach Mateo was seen dressed as a Gaucho lassoing a golden bear to let Gordon pass him. Just after the fact, John Frey, never one to take short cuts, was heard muttering “too easy” as he barreled into his fourth lap on the bike course. Rod on the other hand, daydreaming about Ironmans and other endurance challenges, settled into his 112 mile bike pace. Ricardo and Benton, deciding to work together, devoured a whopping forty bananas and threw all of the peels onto the racecourse sending UCSD, UCLA, and Stanford athletes alike into Mission Bay.
During the run everybody noticed that practice makes perfect as Savannah’s race face looked the same as it did on the bike: intense, frightening, and determined. Sophia, on the other hand, lost total control of her facial expression, mouth open and eyes squinting, as she dug deep to pass nearly all of her competitors and run a personal best 5K. Sean ran to a fourth place finish in a clearly well-used race kit, as can be seen in a number of race photos. Jose stoically ran the team’s second fastest 5K while Rod, still daydreaming about marathons and running himself into the ground, ran past Austin, who was sullenly thinking about how much he needed sunglasses in the blinding morning glare, when he noticed Rod as well as a painstaking cramp in his side (which he would complain about for weeks after).
After the race Emme, concluding that cheering was not enough exercise for the day, decided that she would swim “really far” and climb “a lot” as she set off to find the tallest mountain in San Diego and then do hill repeats on it. At awards, somehow to everyone’s amazement, Taylor had successfully weaseled herself into a first place win. When the team was finally together Coach Mateo repeatedly exclaimed “YOU GUYS KILLED IT” with the undoubted joy and excitement of a four year old receiving a lollipop, successfully pumping the team up for future races.
The triathletes would fall asleep that night with blissful thoughts of Coach Mateo’s quotes resonating in their minds: “YOU GUYS ARE ANIMALS! YOU GUYS ARE GUNNA KILL IT AT NATIONALS!” Suddenly really tired from all of the excitement, the teammates had to wait for the cars to come pick them up and begin the long haul home.
On the drive home in Sean’s car, Austin found himself wearing a red polka dot speedo for no particular reason, but wishing that he had worn his more appealing zebra striped speedo in order to appease an annoyed Sophia, who took the whole glasses thing very personally. Not far into the drive, the team concluded that it was time for food. Having lost track of time, they were unsure whether to find breakfast, lunch, or dinner but finally decided on french toast. Rod with his expert navigational skills found the cheapest possible IN N OUT and took them on an inward spiraling route until they arrived at the classic Californian fast food restaurant.
Once the starved athletes entered the IN N OUT they ordered as many animal style french toast servings as their debit cards could handle. Rod, forgetting to order his french toast without bacon bits, carefully inspected each slice only to realize that french toast doesn’t actually have bacon bits. The unspoken rules of eating at IN N OUT suddenly kicked in for each of them and the french toast eating challenge began. Sean, thinking he would win, ate 21 slices in 21 minutes only to realize that this was more of an Olympic rather than a sprint race and ran to the restroom hoping that he could keep it all down. Austin again regretted wearing the polka dot speedo and wished he had worn his brown eating contest speedo and dropped out of the contest 3 slices in. Rod knowing that his size was a disadvantage was not going to let Sophia beat him and his marathon training kicked in allowing him to pace himself and eat one slice every twenty minutes. Sophia on the other hand didn’t care at all and nonchalantly ate 16 slices, coming to a tie with Rod. Gordon, somehow finding extra room in his stomach, put down an incredible 24 slices for the win and still got a shake to go.
On the road again, the group came to the consensus that they were in need of a pee break, and again, Rod expertly navigated the group along the most parkour possible route to the nearest gas station. To the surprise of everyone, the restroom was out of service so, logically, they crossed the street to the 7-11. Again, the restroom was out of service and the now disgruntled group made their way to some other random stores only to find that all of the restrooms were out of service. Only then, overwhelmed with their desires to urinate, Gordon relieved himself on the nearest bush and the rest of the group followed suit on their own bushes. Even Sophia found a good bush!
Only then were all of their desires satisfied and Sean, Gordon, Austin, Sophia, and Rod were able to make their way home rather uneventfully and still arrive last of all the cars.