Just like David Letterman and ESPN Sportscenter, I also have a top 10 list. It is called “Aaron’s Top 10 Blunders.” Somewhat like the Sportscenter’s “Not Top 10”, my top 10 includes some of the funniest, most unfortunate and most embarrassing events that I endured in 2013. If this was The Bachelor they would call this “Aaron Tells All”. It’s no holds bar and no holding back as you will see us relive greatest worst moments for me in 2013. Without further ado here we go, starting at #10.
#10. Get The Grocery Cart Off The Sidewalk: On my daily walk to the bus, on a drizzly fall day in Seattle, I encountered an unexpected surprise. All of a sudden, “Smack”, I hit something and went flying forward over the top of the object. Luckily, I managed to catch myself with my outstretched hands and came away with only minor scrapes. After turning around to see what I had just steamrolled over, I discovered it was a grocery cart and said to myself, “dang homeless people”. I am sure many of the cars driving by saw the incident, but that’s fine with me because I know I took that cart out!
#9. Candy Should Never Be Fake: I was staying in Sacramento with Richard Hunter, another blind/VI friend, before the California International Marathon this past December. It was late afternoon and I was beginning to get hungry. As I walked around the kitchen, I looked closely at a glass jar filled with sugarcoated gumdrops; the kind that are common during the Christmas season. Without permission, as no one else was in room, I snuck one out and popped it in my mouth. “What the heck,” I shouted as I attempted to chew the gumdrop. What I had stuck in my mouth was not the soft chewable gumdrop I was accustomed to. In fact, when I pulled it from my mouth, I had bitten off little chunks that seemed almost like wood. I quickly realized that this was not candy, but a decoration. The fake gumdrop was, for the most part, still intact even after I had gnawed on it for a bit, so I proceeded to put it back into its decorative jar. Later in the afternoon I told Richard’s wife what I had done and about what a cruel trick it was to play on a blind man. I’m surprised Richard hadn’t already done the same thing himself.
#8. Flag Football Days Are Over: Despite my limited vision I’ll try anything, even ball sports where vision is a near necessity. My girlfriend Brittney plays a lot of flag football and they needed a sub one night. They must have really been desperate because they called on me. I hadn’t played speed sports in years. I took the field and before play even started I was struggling. The teams play across the width of the field, so there were no lines or hash marks to know where the ball is spotted. I set up on the outside thinking I could definitely go deep on these guys, but when I got in position and looked to the center I couldn’t even see where the ball was. I could have easily been offside for all I know. The QB hiked the ball and I took off straight, I then made a cut to the center. Just as I made my cut, my shoe caught the turf and I was sent flying head first into the turf. Some would say, “The turf monster got me”. The next possession, I was on “D” as a pass rusher. We figured this would be the best position for me, because I couldn’t see the ball coming, but I could guard a receiver and chase the big blob with the ball. This all sounds logical and smart until the other team starts doing fake handoffs and/or a handoff and throw. I couldn’t ever see the ball, so I just would chase the QB. Next thing you know, I’m ripping flags off the people without the ball. It was a very mentally draining game for me, although it was probably a very comedic game for everyone else.
This wasn’t the end of my flag football stories of 2013. The next incident came when I wasn’t even playing. As I was standing on the sideline watching the game, the ball was suddenly thrown to the receiver, who happened to be near the sideline where I was standing. The receiver tipped the football and it nailed me right in the shoulder. Everyone thought I would be hurt, but I just let it bounce off me and proceeded to watch the game.
#7. Cramming A Lot in a Little Space: I began 2013 by busting up some stuff. Brittney and I moved into a two-level townhouse, but we probably had enough stuff to fit in a three level home. Compounding the difficulties of moving furniture, was the way they build town homes these days; straight up. The stairs are narrow, steep, and there are many of them. You probably know where I am going with this, but I will continue anyways.
The first piece of furniture to be brought in was the couch. As we played “Tetris” to get it through the door, I began the destruction. I chipped some paint off of the wall and busted up some trim. Our situation became even more interesting as we began our attempt to bring up a standard queen size mattress and box spring. I had no idea we would have any problems with this. Queen size beds are pretty standard and one would think they would make the staircases wide enough to at least get the bed in. The mattress was no problem because you can make it bend the way you need it to. The box spring was a whole other fiasco. We twisted and rotated that thing every possible direction. We even took off the door to the bathroom by the stairs to make more room and it just wouldn’t fit. We had arrived at our last resort, “bruit force.” We jammed the box spring up the stairway taking chunks off the corner of the ceiling with it. By the end of the moving day I was pretty proud of myself, I had really busted some “stuff” up.
#6. Caught Red Footed: Most that know me well know that over the last year I began to wear and endorse New Balance running shoes. Well, I still have some of the “old brand” shoes lying around on my shoe shelf. While grabbing my running stuff and heading to work one day this past year I went into the garage to grab my bright blue and yellow New Balance 1400’s. I quickly grabbed the shoes and headed to the bus.
Later that afternoon, just before I left for my run workout from Mr. Crampy’s Multisport, Justin the bike mechanic said to me, “Hey you still sponsored by K-Swiss?”
I replied, “No, I’m running in New Balance now and I love them.”
He quickly responded back, “Those aren’t New Balance!”
I said, “Yes they are.”
He then said, “Those are K-Swiss.”
I reached down and took off my shoe and put it up to my face and said, “Oh crap, I put on the wrong shoes!”
I felt like a complete moron. I had grabbed a pair of blue and yellow K-Swiss lightweight shoes thinking they were my New Balance ones. Don’t know if this had a visual component to the mistake or not but either way I felt like a horrible person. Sorry New Balance, I goofed up that day and I won’t do it again! :)
#5. Wasabi or Avocado?: I’m not a big sushi fan, but I know that sushi is the fad right now, so sometimes that’s what they have available. Although I don’t like sushi, I know that different types of sushi rolls have avocado in them. Well, I was over at a friend’s house for a party and went over to the food. I saw the main hors d’oevres were sushi rolls and I went up there with my plate. I noticed blobs with a white outer ring and darker center “Sushi rolls.” To the side of the “Sushi rolls” were green blobs, which I took to be avocado slices. I sat down to eat and began to place some avocado on top of my sushi roll, I then proceeded to shove it in my mouth. Within a minute my mouth was on fire like never before. I had been placing some large avocado slices on my sushi and now I was realizing that these weren’t avocado slices, but rather big chunks of wasabi. No matter what I threw in my mouth I couldn’t get rid of the burning. Everyone else was laughing, but it wasn’t funny to me. :)
#4. Almost Like Criss Cross: Last Memorial Day weekend was the CapTex National Championship for Paratriathlon in Austin, TX. The start time was getting close and I began stripping down to my one piece ITU suit. Those that have been with me at a race know that I keep the baggy clothes on until I have to strip down to my skimpy spandex suit. This race was no different. It was time for us to get our wetsuits on and head over to the start. As I was taking off my layers and getting down to my race suit, my guide Dustin said, “Aaron your suit is backwards.” I looked down and he was right. I don’t put the suit over my shoulders until race time because nature always calls at least once or twice and so I had never noticed that the zipper was in the front.
With only minutes before I needed to be over to the start I quickly went to the Porta-Johns. Those that were there were understanding and let me go next. This was the National Championships, so it wasn’t like I could just start late or anything. I quickly flipped my suit around, ran out, put on my wetsuit and it was time to go. Although it turned out to only be a slightly stressful moment, it could have been a disaster if I really wore it during the race like Criss Cross would have done it.
#3. What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas: During a weekend trip to Vegas this past year, Brittney and I pulled up to the Golden Nugget Hotel and got out of the cab. A few minutes later, as I was reaching to get my wallet out to put down for the hotel I realized my wallet was gone. I realized that I had left it on the seat in the cab after paying. I had no idea what cab company it was nor the cab number. I spoke to the bell man outside and he recommended calling hotel security. Upon calling security, they wanted to know what cab company or cab number. I told them that I had no idea. I told them what I was wearing and the approximate time I arrived, to which they replied that they would look on video surveillance to see if they could identify the cab company and car number. While waiting for a reply back from hotel security I proceeded to call all the major cab companies in Vegas and found out that lost and found was not a high priority as many of their offices were closed, but would open in the morning. Security got back to me later and identified the cab company, but we would have to wait until the morning to even attempt to retrieve the missing wallet. Meanwhile, we were stuck in a mess. There is not a lot you can do when you’re in Vegas and you don’t have money or an ID. Brittney became my “Sugar momma” that night!
In the morning, after finding the directions to the cab headquarters, which was located in the ghetto of Las Vegas, we got into a cab to drive there. Little did we know that we were going straight into the middle of a “no drive zone” for cabbies. Evidently, the majority of cab drivers in Vegas were going on strike for better wages and were picketing right outside the headquarters gates. The cab driver was unable to let us off right at the gate, as he would be harassed by his fellow co-workers for not taking part in the strike, so he let us off at the nearby intersection. We saw that cops were surrounding the area because the picketers had gotten a little out of hand over the prior hours. We spoke to one of the officers, and then were escorted up to the gate. We explained our situation and that the wallet had been turned in. The workers were very helpful in getting me the wallet back, but then we had another problem on our hands. We had to get back out of the mess.
After waiting 30-45 minutes with the security guards we were finally told it was safe to go, but in order to get a cab we would have to walk a ways because no cabs were coming near the headquarters and the picketers. Probably not the safest of walks but we started our hike back towards the main strip. Brittney tried to wave down some of the very few cabs we saw but they didn’t want any part of picking us up. Eventually, Brittney could see the tall casino on the strip and we just decided to continue walking there ourselves. After the 40-minute walk through the ghetto of Vegas, where we were constantly looking over our shoulders to ensure our safety, we made it back to the strip. It was a miracle that I had gotten my wallet back, but now I had all of these credit cards that had been placed on hold. Moral of the story, don’t lose your wallet and if it happens in Vegas then do whatever you can to keep it in Vegas. You leave that city before you get it taken care of and you don’t know what will happen!
#2. Nearly Done Before I Started: Luck was not on my side at the races last year, especially at the big ones. We arrived in London in September for the biggest race of my season, the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships. We had taken my bike on the plane and I had removed the derailer because it is the one part that is most likely to be bent in transport. I had been debating whether to leave it and just pad it well or take it off and had decided to remove it. Never did I know that this was the wrong decision. While screwing the derailer back in, there seemed to be a little resistance, but not enough that we thought we had screwed it in crooked or anything. My guide Collin and I got the bike ready and headed over to Hyde Park to ensure it was riding correctly. It seemed to be riding great, so when we got to a straightaway we decided to crank pretty hard. We approached an “S” turn in the course and slowed a bit. As we slowed there was a sudden “snap” and then the back wheel locked up and the smell of burnt rubber filled the air. The bike fishtailed all over the road, but Collin somehow kept us upright on the bike. We came to a stop and looked down at our back wheel. At the same time a rider behind us who had seen the whole thing stopped, held out his hand, and said, “Hey you dropped this, good luck.” We took the piece of the derailer and said thanks before looking down at the damage we had done. The wheel was locked in the chain, the derailer was gone, and multiple spokes on the racing wheel were broken.
Now, we were in a dilemma, a dilemma that would confirm to me why I hate bikes. We had to get a new derailer in order to race and the odds were against us. Not only were we in a foreign country that didn’t afford us the ease of a car or easy internet connection, but we also were looking for a very rare type of derailer that would be compatible with a tandem bike. We called and went to several places, but had no luck. One place thought they could at least help us with the spokes, but come to find out, they gave us the wrong type so we now needed a spare wheel.
After getting to know the London Tube a little better as we went from bike shop to bike shop, we finally found a shop that had the Long Chain Shamano derailer that we would need. I took a big sigh of relief as I figured we were good to go. We then found our next problem. We couldn’t get ahold of the US Team mechanic. He evidently had no phone and limited access to email and also had very limited hours available in the shop. I don’t become an anxious mess very often, but I definitely was one at this point. We had one day to get the bike fixed and ready to go, but we didn’t have confirmation from the person we would need to fix it.
We finally did get ahold of the mechanic and he put on the new derailer, but he was unable to fix the Matrix racing wheel as we had been given the wrong spoke and the correct ones were nowhere to be found. We started the wild goose hunt to get someone to loan us a racing wheel, but then just settled for the less stressful alternative from the US Paratriathlon Coach Mark Sortino and borrowed the trainer wheel from his road bike. From that point on we were good to go and the rest is history.
#1. I Shipped My Pants”: Before expanding upon my top blunder of the year, let me just say it was a doozy. Those that have seen the recent Kmart marketing campaign of this last year will appreciate and understand the title of this top blunder. Endurance athletes will also understand this one more than the general public, but regardless of who you are, you will probably get a good chuckle out of it. With that said, let’s get to the good stuff.
It was a Saturday afternoon run and it was going to be a long one. I needed to run 15 miles or so and I wanted to go at a pretty quick pace. I was clicking right along for the first eight miles or so as I ran around Green Lake, one of the more scenic Seattle running areas, but I needed to add a few more miles on before heading home. Thus, I stopped in at the local track and ran two miles before heading home. About mile 11 or so my stomach started becoming unsettled. This had happened many times before and I knew I needed to just slow down a bit and jog it home. I still had three miles to get home, though it was all through local neighborhoods. As I kept trudging along, I began to have some serious GI issues. Put another way, “I needed to drop the kids off at the pool and in a hurry!” Because there were no public facilities nearby, I slowed to a walk and made every attempt to hold on, but you all know where this is going. I relaxed for one split second and I was done in for. Luckily, there was a little wooded area that I could stroll through before I began the walk of shame home. Sweaty and messy I made the embarrassing walk back to the house. Upon getting to the house, I put to retirement those running shorts and headed in to clean up and go on with my life.
In summary, as I stated at the beginning, this was an “Aaron Tell All” recap of my 2013 blunders. I hope it did not disappoint. There is a first time for everything and 2013 definitely brought some firsts for me. Don’t be afraid to share your top blunders of the year. Believe me when I say, whatever you have done, I have probably done worse!