The Final 48 Hours
[Act II will be published on Monday, March 7, immediately preceding the Victory Feast.]
Act I – The Downfall
Sunday February 27, 2011
8:30AM: I finish my 10 hour shift at work and head home. I tell myself I got a big day ahead. It’s the penultimate day of the challenge. I’ve been neglecting the swimming and biking, for practical reasons, but I also wanted to catch up in the running. The one category I want to lead in. It’s the most taxing on the body of the three. I have no time to spare today. I pack my gym bag for this afternoon. I want to get a solid “night” of sleep in, so I decided to make a visit to my parents house and sleep in the spare bedroom in the basement, my old room. Here I won’t be woken and will get some deep rest. Sleep has been neglected recently and is poorly missed and desperately needed now. After having a bite to eat and chatting with Ben a bit, we each other luck and I’m out the door.
10:30AM Arrive at parent’s house. I tell them of my intention to sleep and to wake me if I’m not up by 4:00PM.
10:32AM Put fresh, clean sheets on the bed’s mattress. This is going to be heaven.
10:40AM Heavy shades block out the menacing sunlight. Phone is off, alarm is set. I’m all tucked in and I close my eyeballs. Slumber greets me within minutes.
3:45PM I awake to the alarm. I feel rejuvenated. I am a new man. That is the most rock solid sleep I’ve had all month, all 5 glorious hours of it. Little do I know, it will be 41 hours before I can experience anything resembling it again.
4:15PM I’m poolside at the Y. The swim lanes are occupied, so I must swim adjacent to them, in the open area of the pool. There are maybe a couple dozen rugrats having a jovial time on their lazy Sunday afternoon. You already know how I feel about them (Day 17), those machiavellian delinquents. A beach ball comes flying at me. I look to the deck, two kids are laughing. I don’t have time or energy to waste on them.
4:25 A swim lane opens up after lap 5. Yay.
4:55PM I get out of the pool, 20 laps in the books. Not too many today, but the swimming is the cake portion of the triathlon. At least for me it is, with my 2 min/lap backstroke pace. I’ll make the rest up tomorrow.
5:25PM I’m at New Age, lacing up my runners. I need another solid day on the treadmill. I do 4 X 1 mile repeats.1 Coming off a hard day on the treadmill, this is all I wanted to do due to a fear of injuring my fatigued legs.
5:45PM MP3 player poops out. I forget the battery life is only 11 hours and needs recharging every few days. I’ll have to endure the rest of the run without my crutch. Not looking forward to the bike ride with no tunes.
6:28PM Change out of sopping wet shirt and shorts — a routine that has recently developed.
6:45PM Get on the bike after 4 long days of absence. Horrible drought in the 28 day challenge.
8:15PM I push myself and get a good 30 miles in. One of my longest bike sessions yet. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot.
8:25PM I’m in the changing room, thinking ahead about tomorrow, the final day. I’m going to need all the energy I have. I’m sure I’ll still be behind after today. I think of places I can get pasta in town. I call up Dominos, they have a deal, 3 Pasta Bread Bowls for $5.55 each. I’ll eat one when I get home, offer one to Ben, and take one to work tonight.
8:50PM I swing by Dominos and pick up my Italian Sausage Marinara, Chicken Carbonara, and Pasta Primavera.
9:00PM I walk in the door and see Ben sitting on the couch. He informs me of his great day at the gym. He’s already had a huge chicken alfredo pasta dinner himself. And he’s already posted for the day. He doesn’t neglect to remind me of the wonderful night of sleep he has in store, as I’m scrambling to clean out my gym bag, shower up, and get ready for the 10 hour night shift ahead of me.
9:30PM I whoof down the Italian Sausage Marinara as I check my email, blog, FB, etc. before heading into work. No time to post tonight. A personal disappointment. The thought of Ben readying his bed as I ready myself for work nags at the back of my mind.
9:40PM I shoot a quick business email to one of our future benvsmitch designers. [Yes, t-shirts are on the horizon. I am already blown away by her work.]
9:49PM Ben declines a Pasta Bread Bowl, as he’s already stuffed pasta down his gullet. I pack the other two in my backpack to take to work, so I can carb load (and calorie load, they’re about 1400 cals each) for the big day tomorrow.
10:00PM I begin my night shift.
11:20PM I force down the Chicken Carbonara. It is a pleasurable forcing.
Monday February 28, 2011
2:30AM I have some down time at work, and decide I should start crunching some numbers. I divide the sheet in half. Top half “If Ben runs 6 miles…” then I calculate how many miles he’ll bike and laps he’ll swim to even his totals up, and so that one is not disproportional to the others. The bottom half I write, “I must run 5 miles…” (because I’m +2 run miles ahead at this point.) I figure out how many miles I will consequently have to bike and swim. I can not believe the numbers I am reading. I repeat this whole process for the scenerios that Ben runs 8 miles, and 10 miles. I do the math, twice. I figure out how much time is required to do what I would need to do. There isn’t enough time in the day, I only have 13.5 hours from when I get off work until my next shift. I am dumbfounded at how far behind I actually am. Thoughts of despair and disbelief run through my mind, “How could I be so behind?”, “I thought I was closer than this.”, “Where did I go wrong?”, “This is impossible. I have already lost before the last day.”
3:00AM I take my “lunch break” and head home. I don’t eat but try to organize my gym bag. Whatever I do today, I won’t have a minute to spare. I throw up my quick post (Day 27). I feign confidence, because I’ve suddenly realized the altitude of the mountain in front of me. Mentally, I’ve resigned myself to losing.
3:30AM – 8:30AM I am internally running numbers through my head. I’m behind 37 miles on the bike, that’s over 2 hours. I’m behind 29 laps, that’s one hour. I’m ahead 2 miles, that is my cushion, so I tell myself it’s negligible, zero. I run workout scenerios around the hours of the pool at the Y, around when I’ll get my sleep, as I must work again tonight. I wonder how long I’ll sleep. Four hours? That may be too much. Can I sleep 3.5 hours? 3? I really don’t know.
8:40AM I leave work and am driving home. Whatever I do today, I’m not going to have time to get stuff to eat, drink — fuel. I see Hugo’s on my left and pull in. The fluorescent lights of the supermarket play with my psyche. I’m supposed to be winding down to sleep, not gearing up to workout. These customers are just beginning their days. Mine should be ending. I head to the beverage aisle and pick up two 8-packs of Powerade. I try to quickly think what food is easy to eat and packed with energy. Nuts. I’m not in the mood for nuts. Okay, bananas. I pick up one bunch, bag it, and head for the checkout.
8:57AM I’m in my car, a few blocks from home. I tell myself, Man can not live on bananas alone. I see Taco Johns on my right. Last week in my exhaustion from a grueling workout I got the 12 softshells for $9.99 deal. I see the deal still up on the sign. I pull in. She tells me to pull ahead while they assemble the tacos. As I wait I pull off a banana and ram it home. I realize they still need a few days to ripen. Should have realized I was purchasing for immediate consumption. Damn.
9:05AM I walk in the door to the house and see Ben’s gym bag on the recliner. I was worried with his early bed time that he would get a pre-work workout in today. I am somewhat relieved, but not much. The guy could have many gym bags. He could have taken out just what he needed this morning and left the bag. Did he leave his bag there on purpose for me to see? No use spending any more time wondering. I focus on packing my gym bags. I fit as many outfits in as possible, along with my shoes, Powerades, bananas, magazines, The 4-Hour Workweek, notebook and pen, and other miscellaneous gym equipment. I grab my camera and take a picture. Don’t ask me why, I thought it was a good idea at the time.
9:15AM I load up with my MP3 player with some new tunes. Not just any tunes, funky tunes that will shake yer booty. My friend Jace (aka Freq-Sho) has been producing some stinky funk in SLC the last few years. Here’s a short cut, and a longer mix. As is apparent from the intro, he’s one of the funniest bastards I’ve ever met.
9:30AM As I wait for the music to load, I devour a couple pieces of peanut butter and bread with banana slices. Yum. I decide to pound my first delicious TJ taco. Mmm. 11 tacos remain. I decide to take a picture of myself. By now I’ve regained my confidence. I don’t know what I’m going to do, or how I’m going to do it, but today I’m going to see what I’m made of. Today I’m going to empty my tank, and see just how far this vehicle will take me.
9:45AM I leave the house, gym bags over my shoulder and in hand.
10:00AM I hop in the pool and begin the day, still not knowing exactly what is exactly in store. I remind myself that I’m 29 laps behind Ben. So I will swim 29 laps.
10:54AM I jump out and rush to shower as quickly as possible. No time to waste, on to my gym.
11:09AM Sitting in the parking lot of New Age, I decide to pound another taco before going in. 10 tacos remain.
11:20AM Start pedaling. I have The 4-Hour Workweek resting in front of me for motivation. I know I’ll be on the bike quite a bit today, so maybe I’ll even open it up to read to pass the time. We’ll see.
11:34AM My eyelids are getting very heavy, even as I’m pedaling away. I close my eyes. I just want to sleep. I don’t have time though. Driving home in the cold, sweaty, tired, surrendered. That would be too much time wasted. With my eyes still closed, in this personal twilight, the simple thought comes to me. What if I slept in the gym’s changing room? That would save so much time. It wouldn’t be a deep sleep, but I didn’t want deep sleep. I don’t know if I’d wake up again today if I were in my own bed. Would the King of Naps indignify himself by napping on the floor of a gym’s changing room? I tell myself, I’ve already done worse. Traveling across India this winter, I’ve paid money to stay a few hours in a train station sleeping room that is without a doubt dirtier than the scummiest gas station bathroom in town. Or any Wafflehouse, as Jim Gaffigan would add. The floor here is at least nice and clean. A throne, relatively speaking, fit for a King. Yes, I will do it. It must be done. I must defeat Ben.
12:15AM Sportscenter is on the TV, playing highlights from the night before. Knicks vs Heat. Carmelo and Stoudemire vs Lebron and Wade. 4th Quarter, Knicks 87 – Heat 86. Eleven seconds on the clock, James has the rock at the top of the key. Carmelo guarding James. James drives to the hole, passes Carmelo, puts up a layup. Stoudemire drops off his guy on the weak side and flies across the lane to block James. Knicks beat the Heat, 91-86. Upsets happen every day. Today is just another day.
12:20PM I reach the 17 mile mark. I stop to drop the kids off at the pool.
12:26PM I’m back on the bike.
1:05PM Eyes are so heavy. I just want to sleep, but I can’t do it. Not yet. I must finish this 20 mile stretch.
1:12PM Weird hamstring feeling. I am worried, because I haven’t even got on the treadmill yet. If my body will just hold out…
1:37PM I’ve done another 20 miles.
1:43PM Time to Dusche (that’s German for shower.) In the shower, the water feels so good. And I feel so loopy. I am narrating this story to myself in real time. I don’t feel like I am actually accomplishing anything, but that everything is predetermined and everything I’m doing, I’m just playing my role, living out the story that’s already been written. Who is it being written by? Me, Hunter S. Thompson. [Editor’s note: In hindsight, I think I now know how it feels to be Charlie Sheen.] I wish I had thought to bring some soap. I didn’t plan on showering at the gym.
1:57PM I leave the shower room and enter the personal changing room, my new temporary humble abode. I don my sweats and coat, and lay myself down.
2:01PM I look at my phone, and see a text message from Ben. 12:23PM I see that u are not sleeping. Impressive. I reply, “you would be surprised at what lengths meech would go to win…”
2:02PM I close my eyes. I think about what I’ve done. I’ve swum 29 laps and bike 37 miles. Ben and I are even steven in those categories, but I am a positive 2 miles run at this moment. He is at his desk at work, I am laying on the changing room floor at the gym. If it were to end right now, I would win. But it is not ending now, it is only just beginning. Thoughts of The Pursuit of Happyness flash by. Thoughts of Ben’s voice screeching “You’re a bum, Meecho,” cross my mind. I smile, how true. I set my alarm for 3:30PM. I close my eyes and slumber meets me instantly.
1 For those unfamiliar with running, repeats are usually done in training to increase a person’s speed. You run at race pace for a certain distance, then slow down for a short recovery period. This way you train at race pace without running the race. At least, this is my understanding. I didn’t use this concept to increase speed, but by running slower, to increase endurance, distance, and time.
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