I Could Be A Contender, But…

A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster

I was reading an old column from way back about a couple of newlyweds, Lori Bowden and Peter Reid, who both placed first in the Australian Ironman triathlon several years ago. The couple apparently kept their names which was probably a good thing since they divorced soon after. Keeping their own names seems to be happening a lot now for some reason. I can think of several high-profile married couples who decided to continue on down the road of life as if they just met in a bar somewhere.

To be honest I didn’t pick up the original article because it was about athletes. What caught my eye was a big colour picture of Lori in a spandex suit, or whatever the material was that appeared to be sprayed or dabbed on with a sponge. I’m not sure whether it was my keen interest in athletic fashion that kept my eyeballs riveted on the page or the fact I could count her ribs.

I used to like watching ironman stuff on TV. I guess it’s still on somewhere. It was part of my continuing quest to reach physical perfection. Lori and Peter seemed to use a different training program than the one I have chosen to reach my goal. For one thing they didn’t eat. Oh, every week or so they would nibble on some high protein snack made from kelp or any one of a dozen weeds found on the bottom of stagnant ponds. I, on the other hand was heavily (‘heavily’ being the operative word here) into carbohydrate loading, which is packing in a bathtub full of pasta the day before a race. For most people this worked, however since I was impatient, I carried it to the extreme. I loaded up for six weeks before the big race and then topped it off by missing the race altogether.

For some reason, Lori, even today, looks much better in a spandex than I do. I suspect it’s because she can afford to buy a designer spandex while I have to wear a jogging suit I picked up at a clearance sale at Barrie Tent and Awning.

Except for that small difference in our training program, their daily routine and mine were pretty much the same. They got up a 5 a.m. to run. I got up at 5 a.m. with the runs. They swam for 90 minutes, I stood in the shower for 90 minutes or until the man from the city works department stuck his head through the bathroom door and shouted, “Does the phrase ‘water conservation’ mean anything to you at all?” They took a two-hour bike ride. I drove down to the coffee shop. They ran for 40 minutes, I had an apple fritter. They lifted weights. I tried to pick up my shoes. As you can see, it was much the same.

I could have been an ironman athlete, but I have some problem with the events. To start with, there’s a 2.4 mile swim. Swimming was never my strong point and it hasn’t improved all that much. I suspect it all started back at Danforth Tech in Toronto where I took swimming lessons when I was 8. We had to swim bare naked. I could never quite master the knack of covering myself with both hands and flutter-kicking at the same time. I seem to remember spending a lot of time on the bottom of the pool with my nose rubbing along the tiles. Plus I never learned to open my eyes under water which is quite a drawback when you are swimming with a pool full of naked persons. I’m afraid I developed quite a reputation and to this day my picture is on the wall at Danforth Tech with a big red circle around it and an “X” across my face.

Bicycle riding is another problem, a 112-mile race may be easy enough for most athletes but not for a man whose feet slipped off the pedals when he was ten and he landed on the cross bar. I sang soprano in the church choir until I was 44.

Of course, the 26 mile run is a snap. That I can do. Although they seem to do it a couple of hours, while I require a couple of weeks. I suppose if I was to buy a pair of marathoner’s running shoes I could do it, but it hardly seems worth it to pay 150 bucks for a pair of runners just to shave two weeks off my running time.

Maybe I should start working at it a bit harder. The World Championships are in Hawaii in October. I might enter. First I’ll call my personal trainer, Doug Ford, to have him work out my training schedule. I like Doug. Standing beside him, even I look good. Now where can I buy a one-size-fits-all spandex body suit?

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