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The weekend after Easter, my sister was due to race in her very first triathlon. It was the Las Vegas Iron Girl Triathlon and happened to be an all girls event.  800+ women swimming, biking, and running all in one central location? Being single, I obviously made it a priority to go down to Vegas and watch my sister in the race. Well it ended up being a bit more interesting than I had planned for.

So I stop by the party supply store on the way down to find loud, obnoxious, noise makers (aside from myself) to help cheer on my sister as the race is going on. After grabbing a few air horns, a blow up trophy, a gold medal, and a few other obnoxious noise makers we head off down to Vegas.

The next morning we get up early and head down to Lake Las Vegas for the race. We arrive about 30 minutes before the race, but everyone is already lined up and ready to start. As I scan the crowd of athletes I hear my sister yelling for me and spot her waving her arms. I wave her over to the fence to talk with her for a few minutes before the race starts. Filled with excitement and adrenaline she tells me where her transition spot is located and where I will be able to watch her. Just before she turns to go back into the starting group, she says “Look for Mandy’s Dad in the crowd. He wanted to say hi to you. Mandy and her Mom and sister are doing the tri too.”

Mandy? Mandy who? OH CRAP!! Mandy!!! I had totally forgotten that an old high school girlfriend from Ramona had been training with my sister for the triathlon and was going to be running the race too. (It also didn’t help that I have dated 3 different girls named Mandy.) I walk back and climb up on the wall that I had picked out to watch the start of the race from. Just as I climb up, I hear, “Craig! How are you?!” I look down and there is Mandy’s father with an outstretched hand. I smile nervously and jump down off the wall. Shaking his hand I say hello. The next thing out of his mouth should have been a sign that things were only going to get more awkward.

“Nikki said you were coming. Have you met Mandy’s husband? He is here taking pictures of Mandy and the group. He is wearing a pink t-shirt. I’ll make sure I introduce you two before the day is over. My wife and daughter Paige are running. Make sure you look for them too!”

“Yeah, I’ll make sure I look for them.” I say nervously while frantically scanning the crowd for any pink. Mandy and I dated off and on for about 5 years. Basically all through high school and a little bit into our freshman year at college.  I hadn’t seen her since before I left on my mission which was back in 1997. I knew she had gotten married since I last saw her. (Let’s be honest, everyone my age has.) I don’t recall things ending badly, but knowing how I was back then, I knew I probably wasn’t very sympathetic towards her feelings. Clearly, this was going to be an awkward situation for me once the race was over.

The race starts and Nikki is killing it. She started towards the front of the pack for the swim. Being that every girl racing had a pink swim cap, it didn’t exactly calm my nerves while the race was going on. All the girls had now entered the water and started the swim portion of the race. I move down to the beach so I can see the girls come out of the water and run towards the transition area. As I do, I look over my shoulder and see Mandy’s father standing behind me. I casually make conversation with him to pass the time. A few minutes later the first girl emerges out of the water and starts heading towards the transition area. I divert my attention back to the race and see Nikki climbing out of the water. She is the 8th person out of the water! Stoked to see my sister, I totally forget that I have all the noise makers with me and I start yelling and taking pictures.

Racing up the beach

I quickly turn and sprint up the beach, through the hotel, and out to the parking lot where the transition area is. As I sprint, I start using the noise makers. Ironically, my sister couldn’t hear me. I was too far away. But the crowd was parting like the Red Sea as I blasted the air horn. I arrive at the transition area just in time to watch her jump on her bike and ride away. With a huge smile on my face I turn and see Mandy’s dad behind me once again. So I decide to stay and cheer with him. He quickly tells me of a good spot to watch the race and we start to walk, making small talk all the while. A decent amount of time passes and my nerves have calmed down. I start to realize he doesn’t hate me for hurting his daughter’s feelings. As we talk I am reminded of how much I enjoyed being around her family. Like with so many of my past girlfriends, I had a great relationship with Mandy’s parents. They were always very kind and welcoming to me.  So let’s fast forward to the end of the race…

Nikki finishes in 7th place for her division and 58th over all out of 800+ tri-athletes. She killed it! I have always been proud of my sister and this day was no different. Then after going and congratulating her I see Mandy running across the finish line. My heart drops. Fantastic… No avoiding this now. Nikki walks over and gives her a hug. I quickly try to blend in but to no avail. Mandy runs over and gives me a hug. I congratulate her on her finish and then quickly divert the attention to my sister. Being the awesome sister she is, she picks up the conversation and carries on about the race. A few minutes pass and Mandy decides to go sit at the finish line for her mom and sister. This is when Nikki decides to inform me of a conversation the girls had while waiting for the race to start.

As the girls start to line up for the race, each one starts to tell each other who is coming to cheer for them. Nikki informs a few of the girls that I am coming to cheer her on. Mandy turns and says, “Craig is coming?!”

Nikki smiles and says, “Yes, Craig will be here.”

Mandy then turns to the other girls and says, “I haven’t seen Craig for at least 10 years.”

With the other girls a bit confused, Nikki informs them that Mandy and I dated for a little while. Nikki laughs nervously. Another girl pipes up and asks Mandy, “Oh! Did you send him on his mission?” 

“No, I don’t remember what happened but he was dating someone else.”  She smiles and says, “Yeah, we dated “a little while.” It only took me 6 YEARS to get over him.”

FANTASTIC! So here I am thinking Mandy’s parents hate me for hurting her feelings, when they couldn’t care less. Mandy on the other hand seems to be feeling a little different. I turn to see where Mandy is and then her father comes up and we start chatting. He congratulates Nikki and then spots Mandy. He walks over to Mandy and they start talking. I turn to Nikki and start to explain what happened between Mandy and I. How I remember her coming to me in class one day and saying she was dating a guy but didn’t know if she could get over how bald he was. We get a good laugh and just then a bald guy in a pink shirt walks up and congratulates Nikki. Yep… it was Mandy’s husband. I introduce myself to him. Mandy spots her husband talking to me and sprints over.

“I’m so sorry John. I didn’t introduce you to Craig. John this is Craig. Craig this is John.” says Mandy.

“Yeah we just met.” said John.

“But this is Craig.” Mandy says while staring at John.

“Yeah… I know. I just met him.” John says puzzled.

“No! This is CRAIG!” Mandy says stronger.

“Yep… This is Craig.” John says absolutely clueless.

I say with a smile, “Mandy and I dated “a little while” through high school.”

John looks at me, then back at Mandy then says, “OH!! This is CRAIG!

I laugh and say, “Well I think we all know my name! Anyone need help with my name?!”

The conversation basically died right there. It was fantastic! Nikki and I left smiling while Mandy and John discussed my name. The race finished and I congratulated Mandy’s mom and sister, chatted with them for a bit and said goodbye to everyone. As I helped Nikki get her things, we passed by Mandy and John. I reached over shook his hand and told him it was nice to finally meet him. I turn to Mandy, give her a huge hug and while doing it, look up at John. He gives me an awkward smile. I turn to Mandy and tell her it was good seeing her then wink at her without thinking. She instantly blushes and starts to walk away. I help Nikki load her gear and then spend the afternoon laughing about the whole race. Nikki killed it and so did I. And thus ends the Awkward Tri.


One Comment

  1. I love this! I mean how awkward can it get? And for her to make a big deal right in front of you. I usually do that later and Paul makes fun of me. But at least it took 6 years to get over you! That’s gotta make you feel good…and the fact that you still have your hair!

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