After being away from organized stretching for five years now, I should have known that participating in the Academy at the Lakes football Iron Man competition was not going to be the cakewalk I imagined in my head the night before.
Instead, I was dripping sweat the moment I walked out with the team for stretching, seeking water after the first event, on one knee after the second event, and then questioning myself for my participation after the third event— to be honest the question came up while I was stretching.
My first event was the up-and-overs, which looks something like the game leap frog, except after the leap, you crawl between your partner's legs and repeat for 30 seconds. I finished with a respectable 10 count, as did the rest of my group, while the top score was 11.
In the second event, the shuttle run, you start in the middle of a 5-yard length and go back and forth from left to right for 15 seconds. When you hit each side it counts for one, but you MUST hit the line, or it doesn’t count. On this one I hit each side 11 times, but on one I didn’t hit the line, so I scored an official 10. This is a lesson not to cheat or take a shortcut; however, my body argued with my mind and said it would have taken the same effort to hit the line as it did coming up just short of the line, so my mind told my body to shut up and suck it up.
The third event was the 10- and 40-yard dash, which were my specialty back in high school, so my expectations were high, and by the end I was really low, not because of my time, but because I was extremely tired and ready for a Capri Sun and a nap. My time for the 40 was clocked at 4.47 seconds, the best of everyone, which raised questions in not only the coach’s head, but mine as well. I don’t think I ran it that fast back in high school, but that’s what it was clocked and taken down as. (Watch out Usain.)
The vertical jumps were my fourth event, and thank the heavens it was indoors. A nice relief from the merciless sun, and cold water from the fountain—I might as well have been in heaven. Also, another top score, but thanks to the digital technology there was no question about the score: a solid 26.7-inch vertical leap.
For the fifth event, I packed into the weight room and plopped onto the bench. At this point, it was nice to lay down for a second, even if I was about to press 200 pounds three times. The joy of lying down on the bench was quickly erased as my thigh and leg simultaneously cramped up on my third lift, which felt awful, but instead of letting 200 pounds drop and hit my throat like my initial reaction to the cramps prompted, I slowly finished the lift and quickly began to stretch the wicked pain of the cramp away.
Then I may or may not have retreated to the side of the building to blow chow.
Finally, all of the group events were complete, but there was one last test for the entire team: the 880-meter run.
As if I weren’t ready to keel over and die before, I was most definitely ready to write out a quick message to my family telling them I loved them at that point. Thankfully, I completed the run in a little more than 3 minutes, complete with excruciating tightness throughout my entire body.
When it was all said and done, even though I was hurting, I was very appreciative toward Coach Castelamare and the players for allowing me to participate and feel part of the team. We ended with a prayer, which was probably necessary for me to get back to the car without being carried there.
And if I had the chance, I’d go back and do it all over again (minus the up-and-overs).
See also: Iron Man Test Measures Up Eagle Athletes