Saturday, February 12, 2011

Food Zoo part two: chickening out

I began my cross-campus walk to practice at approximately 3 p.m. MST. The unignorable sound track of gurgles and rumbles emanating from my abdominal region left me with a great sense of foreboding. My feelings of uncertainty quickly snowballed into full-on panic. What had I gotten myself into? How could I be so stupid as to think that I could ever achieve the ungodly intestinal fortitude of the great Steve?

I ducked into the locker room and tried to formulate a plan. Using my rudimentary skills in logic and human biology (remember, I majored in journalism), I surmised that: A.) The chili was not fully digested, B.) Intense physical exertion diverts blood away from intestinal activity, C.) I was about to engage in some intense physical exertion, and D.) I was screwed.

I could only hope for a relatively mild workout. Perhaps I could persuade my coach to adjust his plans based on the potential for semi-inclement weather that afternoon. I was pretty sure I had seen some ominous clouds in the distance earlier that day. How could we possibly complete a full workout with the impending threat of a dangerous electrical storm?

I knew I had to act quickly if I was going to convince my coach to stray from the scheduled workout. He planned our training schedule for the entire semester months in advance, and talking him into changing it would be like talking Flavor Flav into ditching that huge, ridiculous clock.

I put on my best salesgirl face and tried not to think about the fact that I sucked at selling stuff. Case in point: I was the lowest-selling member of Brownie Troop No. 227 during Girl Scout cookie season. I’ve never really gotten over that. Tagalongs still taste like failure to me.

Anyway, I approached the practice meeting area as nonchalantly as possible. I kept an eye on my coach as he chatted with the team and went through his stretching routine. Just as he stood up and prepared to address the team, I moved in for the kill. Here’s a rough sketch of my sales pitch:

Me: Hey coach, what’s on the docket for practice today?

Coach: A seven-part uphill interval ladder on the Rattlesnake main trail. Didn’t you look at the schedule?

Crap, I thought. Of course he would expect that I had looked at the schedule. I launched into a recovery effort, hoping I hadn’t fudged up too bad with my stupid opener.

Me: Oh yeah, I was…um…adjusting my times from Monday’s workout for altitude, and I was so preoccupied that I totally forgot to check the schedule.

Coach: Okay, well, it’s about time to get everybody loaded up and ready to go.

As he waved to the assistant coach, indicating that it was time to get going, I realized that I was on the brink of losing this battle and thus being subjected to excruciating intestinal agony. The failed Girl Scout inside me was suddenly awakened, and there was a fire in her eyes.

Me: Wait, wait…I’m just, um, a little concerned about running up in the Rattlesnake today.

Coach: Why is that?

Me: Well, I heard that there could be some really nasty thunderstorms this afternoon, and seeing as the Rattlesnake is a hilly, heavily wooded area, I don’t think it would be safe for us to go up there.

The look he gave me made me realize that there was, indeed, a reason that nobody had ever asked Flavor Flav to get rid of his clock.

Coach: I just checked the weather report before I came down here, and it said there should be a high of 62 degrees this afternoon, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation and a UV index of three. So we’re probably best off to just stick to the schedule.

Damn. Of course he had memorized the afternoon forecast. What was I, an amateur? Coach would stop at nothing to adhere to a plan. His travel itineraries typically included multiple pages covering even the most minute details of the trip. God save your soul if you decided to eat breakfast at 7:38 instead of 7:41.

So, in a last-ditch effort to save my stomach and my pride from the anguish both would endure if I attempted the workout, I quickly devised a sound, fail-safe solution: faked injury.

I rejoined my teammates and we moseyed on over to the vehicles. One by one, they climbed in. Coach scurried around to the driver’s side and opened the door. I prepared to step up, and, with impeccable timing, purposely slipped and lost my balance, taking a dramatic tumble to the ground. Everyone looked down at me, a pathetic mess of spandex and clumsiness, as I feigned a struggle to stand.

Coach: Are you okay?

Me: [rising slowly for maximum dramatic effect] Uh, yeah, I should be just…[grimacing as I take a step]…oh man, my knee…I think I might have tweaked that darn IT band again.

Coach: Oh, well then I guess you should probably stay here and cross train.

Me: Really? You’re sure I shouldn’t try to do the workout?

Coach: You better not—it’s a lot of uphill running, and your next race is only four days, 18 hours and 32 minutes away.

Me: Okay, I guess you’re right. Better safe than sorry. You guys have a good run.

Wow. To my complete amazement and disbelief, I had successfully averted a potential crisis situation. I also learned a valuable lesson about the consequences of impulsive decision-making. Which is why, with the exception of one relapse episode involving a ham and cheese omelette, I remained steadfastly faithful to the bagel-before-practice diet plan.

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