"Hey," says a grinning McMullen, "I've got nine more where that came from." (He competed, and the toe was amputated.)
After double-transplant II, two years ago, McMullen decided to take up triathlons. His learning curve was steep (see his shins), his attitude unwavering. "I'm supremely confident in my abilities," he declares. "I don't know any better."
I too had confidence, in my ability to guide him during the swim. I didn't know any better. Let's just say we swam farther--much farther--than anyone else. On the 16-mile bike leg he was uncanny; I didn't guide him so much as he pushed me, bearing down on my wheel throughout the final mile, our speed hovering around 20 mph as he shouted, "C'mon, man, let's finish like bike racers!"
Although McMullen approached the run with the same intensity, his blindness and bum leg have reduced him to a 10-plus-minutes-per-mile gait he calls the McShuffle. We were passed by a steady stream of competitors along the 3.3-mile route. "I don't care if I'm DFL," he told me during the run. (He wasn't.) "I'm competing against myself."
A little while later we were passed by a fortysomething woman who asked McMullen, as she padded by, "If I wait for you at the finish line, will you sign my shirt?" ?