* "Chew on This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder" is a book of inspirational short stories by Gary Brock and Kelly Tuck, and is available for purchase here!
*Words of wisdom for inspirational thought are at the end of the story!
I’m glad I preregistered, I thought to myself as I headed to the busy registration tent. There’s no time to spare before the race starts. After receiving my racing packet, I quickly bent to loop my time chip to my right shoe lace before straightening back up to pin my number on the bottom front of my shirt. I immediately jogged to my truck and placed my race packet in the truck bed; it contained all kinds of great discount coupons and the event t-shirt, so I didn’t want to misplace it. After laying the packet down, I made my way to the starting line.
As I approached the crowd of runners waiting to begin, the race starter was broadcasting race instructions. This race, a fundraiser for various local charities, was considered a combination race with three type of races to compete within. There was the standard 5K run, the one mile walk, and a new creation – the 5K CrossFit run. I had decided to try the 5K CrossFit run this year. The CrossFit’s two challenges per mile appealed to me because of the challenge of fitness and strength training and because it broke up the monotonous flat footed plod-plod-plod of my running.
As everyone assembled at the starting line, our “master of ceremonies” instructed through her microphone for the three groups to line up with 5K runners first, followed by 5K CrossFit runners, followed by walkers. She informed us the start would be staggered with 5K runners beginning first, followed by 5K CrossFit runners forty-five seconds later, and lastly the one mile runners/walkers forty-five seconds later. As per racing norm, she reminded us to allow the faster pace racers to be at the front of each racing group.
I positioned myself in the middle of the CrossFit runners. As I shifted from one foot to the other, waiting for our part of the race to begin, a knotty middle aged lady with graying hair strolled up beside me and asked, “I didn’t hear what she said, is this the CrossFit section?”
Glancing over at her, I smiled and nodded. “Yes, this is the CrossFit section.” Although, I thought, maybe you should really be in the walker section.
“Great! This is my first one of these, and I am ready to go!” She exclaimed enthusiastically. “Good luck!”
Smiling at her excitement, I nodded and replied, “You too.”
My sights turned forward in anticipation of the signal to start, but I could still see her from the corner of my eye stretching her legs. I sure hope she can do this. I’m in pretty darn good shape and I am expecting this to be a challenge. Just by looking at her, I’ll be surprised if she can do some of the stations. Maybe she will just do the old “walk around.” If she doesn’t she probably won’t even finish.
“CrossFit Runners…take your marks…set… GO!”
As usual, the race started with runners clumped into several packs, but quickly morphed into more of a line as runners settled into their individual paces. I kept a steady pace and, true to norm, found myself plodding along in the middle of the line, anxious and ready to tackle the first set of plyometric exercises.
The first challenge station halfway through mile one consisted of the dreaded burpee with a push up followed by the agility ladder. All in all, we would complete a set of five burpees with pushups followed by the agility ladder for five sets. Man, starting with burpees and push-ups gets the blood flowing and the lungs breathing, and of course, you have to stay focused going through the agility ladder by making sure your feet move slow enough to stay in each box but fast enough that the person behind you doesn’t run over you! One down, five to go…so far so good.
At the end of the first mile was Station Two: the overhead plate carry – walk or jog up and back fifty yards. Oh yeah, I have to be “studly!” I grabbed the forty-five pound plate. Oh yeah, I have to be “super fit” and jog. The plate felt light at first, but on the way back, I heard one of the station attendants holler out, “Straighten those arms!” and I knew he was talking to me. I finally escaped the shoulder burn as I made it back to the station and returned the weight plate back on its stack with a thud. With continued resolve, I resumed running. Two down, four to go; so far so good.
Halfway through mile two came Station Three: The lunge station with a choice of weights. I grabbed a set of dumbbells, thankful that the heaviest ones were ten pounds because that weight was enough. Once again, the length was fifty yards up and back. As I began my lunging, I breathed heavily and groaned, “These forty year old knees are not liking this one bit.”
Behind me, I heard a female voice quip, “And these fifty-nine year old knees really don’t like them!”
Say what? I thought incredulously, still staring straight ahead. I must have misheard. As I made it to the turning around point and began lunging back, I was met by none other than that knotty middle aged lady…and soon realized she was gaining on me.
“Looking good!” she panted as she smiled at me.
“You go, girl!” I said, although I wasn’t sure if I really meant it. There’s no way she’s actually doing this. She must be walking around some of the stations. Finishing my last lunge, I rested the dumbbells on the rack and turned to take off running. Seeing “granny” on my tail made me push harder than I had planned. My legs were screaming from all of the lunges, but I had to go – she was hot on my heels! Three down, three to go, so far so good…I think.
Station Four came into view at the end of mile two: tire flips. I loved tire flips! I picked the first available tire that had decent size and began flipping. This challenge followed the “to the cone and back” format as most of the others. After I made my return to begin flipping back to the starting point, I saw a gray haired lady just beginning to flip a tire. A genuine grin stretched my sweat streaked face. I’m impressed! She is actually flipping a tire and she didn’t even pick the smallest one! You go on with your bad self! Once I flipped past the cone, I began running mile three. Four down, two to go. Feeling good…not to mention putting a little space between myself and the gray haired wonder.
Halfway through mile three was the fifth challenge – the medicine ball frog jump or medicine ball rabbit hop, it went by both names. Once again, it was a fifty yard up and back. The challenge was to either frog jump or bunny hop holding a ten pound or twenty pound medicine ball. Of course, I grabbed the twenty pound medicine ball and started with big frog jumps, which quickly shortened to little bunny hops. In the middle of one of my jumps, I heard a now familiar female voice. “Can I hop down on one leg and hop back on the other leg?”
The station helper replied, “Ma’am, you can do it anyway you want.”
“I’m just kidding, honey,” she cackled joyously.
I hurriedly attempted to quicken and lengthen my jumps. I am not going to let this AARP member beat me! Got to go! Go man, go! Hopping past the ending cone, I handed my medicine ball to the station worker. Turning to put it in high gear, I quickly found there was no high gear …just low, slow, and getting slower. Okay… Five down and one to go. You can make it.
Right before I reached the sixth and final station, I felt a gentle breeze ease past me. As I glanced to my left, I was astonished to see a gray streak run right on past me! It was like I was in slow motion. It was surreal. As my ego buster sailed by, she puffed out, “Looking good, honey! Half a mile to go!”
I could barely muster a “yay” from trying to catch my breath. Arriving to the final station a few seconds behind the Eighth Wonder of the World, I knew I had to make up some time. As I grabbed the forty-five pound kettle bells for the suitcase carry of fifty yards and back, I was tempted for a fleeting moment to take the ten pound ones instead. No, I said to myself firmly, you give it all you have got. That’s why you’re here doing this – to do your best and forget the rest.
A quarter of the way through the suitcase carry, I passed the lady who would soon qualify for social security benefits. As I went by her, she called out, “You go, honey!”
Smiling, I replied, “You too!” Catching my breath, I added a quick word of encouragement for both of us. “Bring it!”
Completing the suitcase carry, I pushed myself for the finish. One tenth of a mile to go! As I turned the corner approaching the finish line, the timer was in plain sight. Thirty-eight minutes…not bad! That’s decent time for this type of a race. All of a sudden, I noticed people motioning “come, on.” What are they motioning about? I wondered. Is it for me?
All of a sudden, just as I entered the coned area leading to the finish line, a gray blur streaked right past me with one single step left before crossing the finish line. The motioning people cheered and clapped.
And all I could do was smile.
My racing nemesis was directly in front of me as we shuffled toward the young lady that was removing the timer chips from shoe laces. Tapping her on the shoulder, I grinned when she turned around. “Way to go! That was awesome!”
She beamed. “Thanks, honey. I kept you in my sights the whole time. You pulled me through!”
Once my timer chip was removed, I walked over to the water station consumed by my own thoughts. Forty minutes ago when that knotty, older, gray haired woman asked me if we were in the CrossFit section, I doubted she’d could finish the race…and she beat me! This race today proves it’s still true when they say…
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YOU JUST CAN'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER
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*Chew On This: Fifty-Two Inspirational Points to Ponder is available for purchase here!