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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marriage, a Spartan Race and The Lord of the Rings...

Stretching after a rigorous workout...
Sunday morning, as I wiped the sweat beads off my forehead with the broadside of my thumb, like a wiper across a windshield, I took a quick look at my watch and noticed we were only halfway through the hour-long boot camp training session we had started. 

It was a typical humid and sticky 90-degrees-weather day in South Florida and I was drenched. Sweat was pouring out of me like, I  imagine, it poured out from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane just before He got arrested.  And I thought with dread, we still had another half an hour left!

It had been a grueling first half hour of burpees (which until recently, I thought was just the gas build up my children got after drinking Similac as babies or what I get while having beer!), sprints, jumps, squats, leg lunges and one of those agility ladders that gets placed on the ground and you have to take two steps in each square as you work your way forward and sideways on the way back.

We had finished one time through the six-station circuit and were catching our breaths before running a couple of laps and starting a second time around and I was already hurting. One of the guys in our group had already dropped out and I was trying mightily to keep from joining him.

I should have known we were going to be in for a treacherous workout, when the trainer, who trained soldiers for ultimate cage fighting at Ft. Hood, showed up looking like Captain America, but built more like Thor, sans the golden shoulder length locks on his head, in The Avengers movie.

In fact, as I stood there huffing and puffing in mid-workout, I remembered the distress in my seven-year-old daughter’s face, when my wife showed her a You Tube video of the Super Spartan Race we had signed up to run in February. She started crying in horror, “Daddy is going to die!,” a haunting thought that, as I started thinking about the second half of the workout, I was hoping would not be prophetic.

My wife kept asking me, “How are you doing?” and then added, “Stop if you don’t feel well.” Sure, show concern after getting me into this pickle, I thought.

“Fine,” I answered unconvincingly.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my wife is in amazing shape. For years, she has been trying to get me to join her in marathons, half-marathons and triathlons that she has participated in.  "Maintain God's Temple," she often tells me; only to have me sneer and and blow off the suggestion as too ridiculous to even consider.    

So, when she talked to me about the Super Spartan Race, which she had been talking to a friend of mine about doing as a team and is basically an 8-mile obstacle course of running, climbing over walls, going through water, crawling under nets and through tunnels, and burpees, lots and lots of burpees, in February (4 days before my 49th birthday), I almost laughed.

However, wouldn't you know it.  When she approached me, I was in the middle of writing a blog (and ignoring my family!) and, after giving her my typical response, I noticed the dejection on her face as she walked away.

I was overcome with Catholic guilt, one, because I was already treading water for ignoring my kids that night, and two, because I have never given her the satisfaction of having me join her (with the exception of a 5k charity run, which is more up my alley) in a competition that she assured me would be “fun.”

So, as I sat there thinking about what she had asked, and keep in mind that to my daughter (and sometimes my wife) I’m known as “Mr. No,” which tends to be my immediate response to anything, I thought, what’s the worst thing that can happen, I make a fool of myself? I’m already an expert in that.

Frodo couldn't shake him...
Then I thought, did she say February? I have plenty of time! In fact, it may give me a goal to shoot for and finally lose those stubborn last 50 lbs that I have been meaning to lose. First? Last? Who’s counting? Those suckers cling onto me like Gollum, aka Smeagol, clung onto Frodo Baggins to get the Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings. It seems every time, I shed a few pounds, they come right back!
So, with a sense of mission and misguided generosity, I marched into the bedroom, where my wife and kids were watching TV, and announced, “I will do it. Sign me up!”

On Sunday, as we ended our workout, besides feeling like Sam Gamgee after carrying Frodo up the volcano to destroy the ring, I was having more second thoughts than Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen has with Heath Bell on the mound closing games and perfectly understood my daughter’s tears and comment when she saw the You Tube video.

But probably even worse was the pain I felt trying to get out of bed over the next few days.  It was so bad that the bottom of my feet hurt. (The trainer told me to make sure my shoes had a good arch and were not older than 6 months old. I told him they were just a tad older; I bought them when my 11-year-old daughter was 4!)  Not good.

And, to think, this was just our first workout.  I still have five more months to look forward to.  The things we do to keep a happy marriage.

Lord help me!…

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