Monday, August 4, 2008

Tales from the past... (part 1 of 2)

Wow. My sister forwarded these Pulitzer prize deserving pieces that I wrote a few years back. Thought for giggles I would post them here. Enjoy...

Tales of a Faux Multisport Athlete
….and rules of what NOT to do while racing or training

By Becky Hale

As a firm believer in hard work and sacrifice to attain certain fitness and athletic goals, I am somewhat of an ironic figure. I believe one should train hard, but sometimes that belief just doesn’t seem to translate into my feet pounding the pavement or trail in search of the fitness I dream of.
It’s not that I am a slacker. Seriously. I think it is a deeper force that makes me think I have to be underprepared for every challenge. This way, when I accomplish the goal, even if it is in an appalling time, I did it against odds that most people would scoff at. Scoff away, I say!
Let me paint a beautiful picture of a race well run, or rather, at least I finished with the dismal training I put forth. Shreveport, August, 2004. It is a warm and muggy day, the SportSpectrum Rivercities Sprint Triathlon is tomorrow and with race packet in tow, my friends and I get our clothes and gear prepared for the next day’s event. We are staying at the host hotel for the event, and as such, are surrounded by muscled and fit athletes poised to attack the race course with a fervor and exhausting enthusiasm that I just don’t understand. Somehow, I am not encouraged, nor inspired by these feats of human greatness. Their $4000 tri bikes simply make me sad and their 2% body fat bodies make me angry that people have deprived them of life giving food and very comfortable couches. Alas, not everyone can value the glory of a Monster Taco at Jack in the Box like moi.
After a delectable meal at the fancy and illustrious fundraising carb loading pasta dinner, we head back to our room to get some much needed sleep and mentally prepare for the next day. My race friend, who we will call April in this episode, and I decide we didn’t ingest enough carbs. To mend this error, we saunter to the hotel’s very accommodating bar (with our serious racer friend, who we will call Samantha, alongside to watch true athletic prep work at it’s finest). We realize that while alcohol dehydrates a body, when paired with a large glass of ice water, it really is a fine carbo loading technique. They rarely tell you this at nutrition classes. We consider for a moment our options. We could go for the more filling drinks, or simply take a concentrated carbohydrate potion, similar to a Gu gel packet, but called a “shot”. We figured the concentrate was the best plan of attack. I realize while feeling the aftershocks of such a highly concentrated product, that I didn’t train at all for this race. It seems funny at the time, so I just decide that it is best not to worry about such trivial things. I will face it in the morning. After all, I just came here for the race packet.
Waking up in the morning was not my favorite idea. In fact, it was not even remotely close to a good idea. Cotton mouth had set in, and the realization that I in fact had to swim/bike/run to get to my next beer seemed an out of reach task at this point. Breakfast was a no-brainer, but just like any seasoned triathlete, I didn’t bring my favorite stuff with me! No, I relied on the graciousness of the host hotel and snagged one of the last, dry and tasteless bagels from the continental breakfast (aka bagel basket) and piled into the only real athletic part of me…my Xterra. Samantha, our serious race friend, chuckled to herself. I am sure she was simply jealous of my race training and absolute preparedness. I wow myself sometimes.
At the race, there is the usual TA set up, I won’t bore you with that. I will get to the juicy stuff. For me, the swim is the easiest part of the race…and it was just the case in this competition. I really just wanted to get a float and a cooler and stay out there all day, but the bike and run called to me like an angry old man telling me to turn down my music. My transition time was not only slow, it was pathetic. I think people finished the entire bike leg in the time it took me to put my shoes on. BUT I WAS RACING. I was proving what I always say to newbies, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” I am living evidence to that. The bike could have possibly put me down and I could have been put in a pine box that afternoon, but the bike gods were gracious and allowed me to finish and join what I consider the death march, the 5k at the end.
Now I don’t know what genius planned to put a 5k at the end of such a horrible idea of a race in the first place, but apparently they don’t realize how hard this is! I mean, seriously, who in their right mind does these things? I begin to think back to all the training, or lack thereof, that I did. Well, there was that night I meant to go run, but somehow got sidetracked for a happy hour. Then there was that time I actually got to the park, but I was late, so I just cheered on the other runners. I should write a book of ways to get out of working out. I am sure I have a list that would baffle even the most lazy of faux athletes. Then there was the last night’s measures for race day. I realized, at the wrong time of course, that doing shots the night before a tri is not really advisable. Your body doesn’t want to do them in the first place, which is why when you see that shot glass, the excited feeling in your stomach isn’t one of blissful expectation…it is one of dread. Your stomach is smarter than you. Trust me. And my stomach was teaching me a lesson. So were my legs. And my sweat glands. My entire body was revolting against a bad decision that my brain had made. I could almost hear my calf muscles… “What the hell do you think you are doing? Why didn’t you TELL us you were gonna do this! We aren’t ready for this stuff!!!”. I apologized from the bottom of my heart, but it was too late. I was torturing these poor innocent muscles who did nothing to me but carry my heavy and ungrateful body for 25 years. Selfish selfish selfish.
Somehow my muscles, all cursing at me in unison at this point by the way, get me across the finish line. People are cheering for me “way to go!” “great job!”, etc…like I have never done a race before. What they should have been saying was “Why didn’t you train?” “Why weren’t you ready for this?” “Did you really need to eat all those grilled cheese sandwiches?” But no, they were kind and encouraging. And I appreciated it, and at the same time, I realized….maybe I should have trained for this. Hmmm…oh well, looks like another race organizer let me in to an adventure race! Hey, you don’t have to train for those, do you??? ;)

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