October 09, 2010

Ironwoman, a novel (Part 2)

Read Part 1 of Ironwoman and the inspiration for this yet to be finished novel here.

Disclaimer: Although inspired in part by true incidents, the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.

Tara looked up, smiled and looked at all the incredulous faces around her. “It feels good,” she replied. “Real good.” Then everyone started shouting their questions at once. “How were you able to beat all the men? How long have you been in the sport? Who is your coach?”

Tara looked back and forth at all the shouting reporters around her as if waiting for the one question she wanted to respond to the most. She didn’t seem to hear it and then said, “How come none of you want to ask me about whether I am clean? Isn’t that what most of you are wondering?”

Silence. This was an unexpected turn. Tara obviously wanted one of the reporters to say something before she would answer her own question. That was the price. She wanted it said.

Megan again was the first one to find her voice. “Well, sooner or later that question might indeed be asked. I guess that no one wanted to antagonize you before knowing who you are. Or perhaps everybody was waiting for the exclusive interview with you as to get the scoop.”

Tara nodded and seemed satisfied with the response. “I sensed throughout my whole race astonishment from my fellow athletes and spectators. I know that I have done what no one ever thought possible or maybe not possible for a long time. I myself, before today, wasn’t sure whether I could do it, but I knew I had a good shot at it if my body felt right. And it did.”

Tara smiles again. She is pretty, in an athletic way. Her tall lean body shows every muscle is developed. Her dark hair is tied in a pony tail and even after swimming, cycling and running for eight hours she looks fresh. She sits upright in her chair, though she could be forgiven for being less disciplined about sitting in the proper posture right now.

It is probably second nature, Megan thinks. Megan is intrigued by this Czech woman. And not just because she just became the world’s best Ironman triathlete. There is something about her, something in her composure after having accomplished one of the most amazing feats in history. Megan is struck by Tara’s show of confidence.

Tara doesn’t seem at all surprised by what she’s just achieved. And yet, she expects everyone else to be. And she is right about that.

Christian, who finished five minutes behind her as the first guy and his best finish in Kona to date, is making his way to the group. No reporter has to check his race program to figure out who Christian is. He is one of the world’s rare triathletes who have been able to compete at the highest level in both short and long distance. Instead of throwing questions at him, the reporters watch as Christian approaches Tara.

They are unsure of what is about to happen but know it will be something worth reporting. Christian himself doesn’t appear sure of what he is going to do or say. The only thing he seems to know is that he has to talk to the person who beat him. He’d have done that if it had been a man, so he will too now that it is a woman. He stops at Tara’s chair. “Tara?” he starts.

Tara gets up, smiles confidently and offers her hand for Christian to shake. “Hi Christian,” she says. Christian hesitates for a second, eying her from head to toe and then shakes her hand firmly.

“Congratulations, you have done something amazing,” he says. “I don’t mean it is a big deal because you beat me, though that is quite something too, but I mean by going faster than every other person out there. It really is … I don’t know quite what to call it.”

Megan phones her editor at the Bloomberg office in Sydney. “Yhuellow?”

 “Ed, it’s Megan. I have some heads from the Ironman.”
She hears Ed sigh. “Megan, we have been over this before. You are lucky to be there and writing about it, but no heads. Nobody gives a toss about your Ironman.”

“Ed, listen, we need heads. Here’s the first;


“Megan, give it a rest. I am busy.”

“Ed, did you hear what I just said? A woman just won the race. Outright. She beat all the men. In a race where a who’s who of Ironman triathletes is racing. A woman beat all the guys. It is like Paula Radcliffe winning the Boston Marathon, and that before anyone had ever heard of her, and beating the likes of Haile Gebrselassie.”

“This is going to be a huge story, whether she is clean or not. It is going to be huge. Do you want to wait until you get a call from New York asking why Dow and Reuters are running stories and we don’t, while we even have a reporter on the ground?”

To be continued...

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