Monday, September 29, 2014

Chapter One: How In The %^&@ Did You Get Here?!?

There's a guy just like him in every gym in every town across the country.

Bob ... in order to protect the guilty, that's not his real name ... is the older gentleman who'll spend an hour on the stair climber and then move to the treadmill following his warmup. He's closing in quick on 70, but he's a rock star when it comes to staying fit.

Bob's also the guy in your gym who's never had an unexpressed thought. He's going to say what's on his mind and he's going to say it at the very top of his voice ... not in a confrontational way ... just ... very loudly.

That's where I come in. One day a couple of years ago, Bob turned his attention to me.

"Rick," he bellowed at or very near the top of his lungs, "you need to lose some weight!"

I'd already lost 90-some-odd pounds at that point, and I told him so. He evidently didn't believe me.

"No, you haven't!"

Yes, I have.

"No, you haven't!"

Bob, really. I have.

"No, you haven't!"

I took out my smart phone and showed him my "before" picture, and that finally convinced him. Still, he wasn't finished.

"Well ... what you need to do now is start running so you can tone up!"

But ... Bob ... I've already done eight or nine 5ks and one 10k.

I should've known what was coming.

"No, you haven't!"

Yes, I have.

"No, you haven't!"

Yes, I have.

"No, you haven't!"

Finally, I had an idea. There was a 5k scheduled for the very next weekend here in Yadkinville, and I told Bob to sign up. It wasn't a challenge, because there was no way I was ever going to beat him. Not a chance. Not the way he could spend hours on end on the cardio machines. No way, no how. The best I could hope to do was maybe impress him by just finishing.

Come that Saturday, the race started and I saw Bob ahead. I passed him within the first quarter mile or so, but that didn't mean anything. I always start out too fast, and there was a lot of traffic to negotiate. Surely, as the race wore on, he'd come roaring back by me.

That never happened, but again, it didn't necessarily mean anything. I tend to get tunnel vision during a race, not fully knowing everything that's going on around me. It's part concentration, part exhaustion.

Jeanie and the boys were at the finish line, which always means the world to me. Adam and Jesse went off to find me a bottle of water while Jeanie and I headed for a seat in the shade. I still didn't see Bob.

He. Wasn't. There.

Three or four minutes later -- I'm gonna call it four! -- I saw Bob approaching the finish line. A smile stretched across his face, right up until the moment he saw me. Suddenly, the smile was gone. What he said -- bellowed -- next would forever be the highlight of my athletic career.

It was mo' better than anything I ever did in Little League baseball, high school football or church softball.

Bob saw me sitting there, already finished with my race ... his smile vanished ... and he announced for all the world to hear.

"How in the %^&@ did you get here?!?"

In the soundtrack of my life, that's pretty much where the theme songs from Rocky and Rudy and, just because it's me, Forrest Gump would all start playing. How in the %^&@ did you get here?!? Yes!

It wasn't long until we'd agreed on a rematch ... a 10k in Rural Hall. A wardrobe malfunction helped decide the outcome.

Check back soon for Part Two: The Moon Rises!

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