a breakfast serial

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Archive for October 10, 2012

pole, pedal, hyperventilate

< by Jill >

A team of three athletes: One Nordic skier, one cyclist, one runner.

We had trained and suited up for Minnesota’s “oldest and toughest” winter relay — the Pole, Pedal, Pant.

Ann, my big sister and the team skier, wore a spandex suit that cut a crisp silhouette of her lean, sculpted muscles. Inside her boots, she stashed a secret weapon: Feet with sky-high arches that gave her springy forward thrust.

Mark, my dad and the team cyclist, had the dense, angular leg muscles of a serious biker. Beneath his helmet, he wore his secret weapon: a curved, perfectly aerodynamic nose that sliced the wind.

As for the team runner, I had a doughy build and old sneaks. For a secret weapon, I had misplaced confidence — I only knew one runner in the race (Nichole) and I figured I could beat her. I’d never seen her race before, but she didn’t have the spindly legs and weird-looking abs of the women on the cover of Runner’s World. Instead, she was short, thin but sturdy, and sweet as pie.

The killer instinct inside me said you can beat this girl. I had no idea what I was in for.

First, the pole segment: Ann rocked it. Trounced her fellow athletes.

Then, the pedal stage: Mark whisked past the competition with blurry haste.

Finally, the pant: Pant I did, plodding along with the shiny, red cheeks of a Norman Rockwell Santa. Nichole floated into the distance.

As I stomped through the miles, I realized a few things: Arrogance is a weapon that only hurts yourself.  Judgment is equally as bad — when false assumptions come to light, they put you in your place (for me, somewhere near last). Most of all, if I wanted a secret weapon, I’d have to lace up those shoes and search it out, one mile at a time.

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Author’s note: Nichole qualified for the Olympic trials for the marathon this year. She had an outstanding performance, finishing in 2:44:12. To read more about her marathon journey, click here.