In my early twenties I wasn’t much of an athlete. If I went for a jog after class it wasn’t unheard of for me to have a ziploc bag with a lighter and a couple of Marlboros stuffed in my sports bra. This way I could have a smoke after I left the cafeteria, a dinner full of botttomless bowls of cereal and pudding from the salad bar.
Now just because I wasn’t big on athletics didn’t mean that I wasn’t a competitor. “Shall we get another round?” Umm, yeah. And it better be pitchers not pints. “Can I get you a drink?” You bet. Jack neat with a Bud back. (For those among us that are not nor have they ever been a bit of a drinker, that is a Jack Daniels shot straight up with a Budweiser chaser.)
The order smacks of youth. Jack Daniels is the Crystal Light of whiskey. It’s almost water and sweet as candy. And Budweiser? No Bud Light for this girl with the metabolism of a 16-year-old boy, and nothing that tastes too much like beer.
But I was giving it my all. If one drink was good, two was better.
I was going for the gold. I frequently ignored that warm feeling that would rise in the back of my throat. You know that feeling. Eventually the warmth would travel up my spine and collide with my tonsils creating a burst of saliva. And then I knew. I was going to throw up. It was inevitable. I’d order a shot of Jaegermeister and head over to the bathroom. No big deal, hurl really quickly, knock back a cold shot of Jaeger and I was ready to Go, go, go!
What does this have to do with anything? You might have wondered how the sprint-triathlon turned out on Sunday. I went in with a little limp. TENS unit in the morning, lots of Advil. But I was determined that I wasn’t going to quit. The swim and and the bike would be fine, the run might be ugly. But I was going to finish strong.
The swim and the bike were uneventful. I got off my bike and took a few steps out of the transition area and as I started to run nowhere in my mind was I thinking of my early twenties and my penchant for boozing it up. But by the end of the first mile I could think of nothing else. My mouth was filled with spit. I wasn’t nauseous. Not really. But I was definitely going to puke, only I wasn’t ready to pay my tab.
At the second mile marker I was keeping pace with a gentleman that looked like he was hating it, too. “C’mon. One more mile. Let’s go, I might puke.” He laughed, but he steered clear of me. We traded off leading the way over the next ten minutes. I rounded the corner and could see the finish line and my mouth filled in that way where you know you have less than twenty seconds. Had I been 21 years old and in my favorite bar on the way to the bathroom I’d have been afraid I’d run in to someone that I knew. I had twenty seconds and max three words before I was going to let my Gatorade soaked puke fly freely.
I crossed the finish line. I wasn’t walking or limping. I was smiling and sweating. “I’m gonna puke,” I told the volunteer waiting to collect the time chips.
And puke I did.
With my hands on my knees I had three more words in my head. “Oh. Hell. Yes.” I did it. I finished. Injury, be damned. Who knew that the boozing of my twenties would have prepared me for this strange surge of athleticism in my thirties? As soon as the heaving stopped I thought “That wasn’t bad. Let’s run it back again!”
Tri season is over for me. Love the new physical therapist. And I will keep training through the winter. Maybe even do a little of that old-school training of my twenties just to keep things interesting.