I was about 200 yards from the finish line of my first triathlon!
It had been a long day already for this rookie. Inconceivable events had piled up.
* I’d gotten my goggles kicked off of my head during the 3/4 mile swim and couldn’t see crap. Inconceivable!
* I got momentarily passed during the 28 mile bike by a guy riding a Sears “Freespirit” 10 Speed, with his Chuck Taylor basketball shoes duck tapped to the rusty pedals. Oh, and he was wearing cutoff blue jeans and a football helmet! Inconceivable!
* I got passed by a GIRL (the first time a girl had ever beaten me at ANYthing in my life) at about mile 2 of the 7 mile run. Inconceivable!
And now, there I was with just 200 yards left!
Over the music of “Rocky” and “Chariots of Fire” blasting from the giant speakers stolen from Woodstock, I became aware of an unsettling sound. I started to hear a very alarming wheezing noise, as if someone were about to stroke out. Someone behind me appeared to be dying.
Unfortunately the dying guy also seemed to be gaining on me.
How could someone in cardiac arrest actually be GAINING on me?? Inconceivable!
But sure enough, here he came, with the sounds of his expiration getting louder and closer! And when he was right beside me, I glanced over to see the gray haired man PASS ME!!
How was a wheezing guy — ten minutes from rigor mortis setting in — passing me?? Inconceivable!
I tried to stay with him. But I was spent. I was a 24 year old Marine and in pretty great shape, but I couldn’t keep up with Mr. Gray. He finished about 10 seconds ahead of me.
With my gigantic ego in cardiac arrest, I finished the race and went in search of Mr. Gray. I found him inside the big tent with the refreshments. I walked up to him, my tail tucked like a beaten dog.
“Congratulations on a great race!” I said to him, trying to convince myself of my sincerity.
“Oh? Thank you very much!” said Mr. Gray, a little too enthusiastically.
“That was me you passed right there at the end.” I said with a slightly incredulous tone.
“OH?? Gosh, I’m sorry!” Mr. Gray said apologetically.
“No, no, no!! I just wanted to congratulate you on a great race, ” I assured him. “And to ask you … if you don’t mind, how old you are?”
With great pride, and a wide smile, Mr. Gray stood up straight, chest out, shoulders rolled back and announced, “I’m 65 years old!”
“You, sir, are my new hero!” I said, and meant it completely.
As I celebrate another lap around the sun on Saturday, I am reminded that age “ain’t nuthin’ but a number.” I know people half my age who are already living an older version of themselves. One that probably resembles an older version of Mr. Gray! And I know people, like Mr. Gray, who refuse to go gently into that good night. There will be no rest from striving and exploring, from doing and achieving.
How much of this is mental? How much of what the Mr. and Ms. Grays of the world do and know is simply a matter of mind over matter? A conscious decision to live life to the hilt?! “Damn the torpedoes, FULL SPEED AHEAD!”
I think it’s about 90% mental.
You are what you decide to be. You do what you make up your mind to do.
What role does exercise play in the process? The greatest benefit of exercise isn’t what you think. The greatest benefit isn’t physical. It’s mental. Exercise makes you feel good. Which in turn makes you want to DO things and to live good. Which in turn makes you want to exercise more. Which in turn makes you feel better.
It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle. It’s a cycle of perpetual benefits!
Next month, USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP becomes 10 years old! Over the years I’ve heard countless boot camp quitters say to me, “Tony, I never felt better than when I was doing Boot Camp with you!”
Then why did you quit? Why do you stay away? I never understand that statement and I’ve heard it many times!
If money is the issue, talk to me.
If you’ve lost your job, talk to me.
If you need to get out of Turdeville, PLEASE talk to me!
Let me be clear, if you’ve lost your job and you can’t pay, you are welcome on my Quarterdeck while you look for a job! I will NOT turn anyone away because they’ve lost their job. (UNLESS you are a HUGE pain in the butt! In that case, in the words of the late great Ike Turner, “You can get up out my face and start steppin!”)
In all seriousness though, I am fully aware of the fact that I’m not running a charity or a non-profit! Some of you have tried to remind me of that. I know! My bills have to be paid just like yours. I got that. But I think in the long run I benefit by keeping you around, especially when you’ve hit a rough patch of road. Do you have to repay me when you get a new job? No. Not at all. Just pick up right where you are, just as if nothing had happened.
“Help me, help you!” Tom Cruise said in “Jerry Maguire.” And I really mean it. The joy of my life isn’t my trip to the bank. It’s seeing you on my Quarterdeck!
If Ford won’t take your car away if you lose your job, I won’t take your BOOT CAMP away either!
I know … it’s … it’s … Inconceivable!
TODAY’S BIG THREE
1. Natalie Williams (Boot Camper) looking for a Marketing/ Event
Coordinating or Advertising job. Has a degree in Marketing Management
and has several years of experience. Please contact email@example.com
with any leads or job opportunities.
2. Anna Haug (Boot Camper) is looking for a new job. She’s had experience in outside sales.
3. Cindy Pensoneau (Boot Camper) has an apartment for rent. She sends: “Charming English Tudor duplex, 2BR/1BA + sunroom, 9ft. ceilings, hardwood flrs., 1600 sq. ft. recently renovated, 2nd floor/treetop view, just West of Overton Park. Covered parking, ample storage. $1,100/month. 249 H awthorne Street. 901-270-7450, leave message.
Tomorrow, July 23 at 0530! Meet at the U of M in front of the parking garage on Zach Curlin!
“Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye but fail to see the beam in your own eye?”
~ Matthew 7:3
To your continued good health and fitness!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding