So apparently I was incorrect, and the Sane One's favourite embarrassing story is not the square-wheeled bicycle, but a far more embarrassing story. To catch up the newer readers of this blog, I used to have a very odd habit. After intimate moments with a partner, I would use the post-coital bliss to regale my partner with really terrible stories of how I have made an idiot out of myself. My repertoire of stories is vast and comprehensive, so I guess I figured a proper reward of suffering through brief moments of passion would be bizarre stories about what an absolute fuck-knuckle I was. Was? Still am is probably the more accurate descriptor. Ten years of knowing the Sane One, it is safe to say that she possesses the complete and unabridged compendium of really awkward events of my life. We must have had a really athletic session, which provided me the perfect opportunity to explain just how unathletic I really was.
As a freshman in high school, I made the decision that I needed to diversify my attributes to include athletic prowess. Now the odd thing about physical abilities is that very few people are just innately gifted at a particular activity. Sure, there is the odd freakshow that can just throw a football farther than other people or the individual that has a huge oxygen intake capacity than the rest of us (Miguel Indurain, you large-lunged Spanish bastard). But for the most part, sports takes lots and lots of practice. My decision to join the track team was based on the fact that it involved something that I thought I had mastered. That fact was that track involved putting one foot in front of the other as fast as you could. I figured that I had spent most of my young life successfully doing just that, and all I had to do was to just speed it up better than other people. How hard could that be? You know, looking back at my life, I really wonder why people thought I was so bloody intelligent because a lot of my conclusions are really, really, really idiotic. Because I weighed about 95 lbs soaking wet, I hypothesized that I had less mass to propel forward and I would be dominant in long distances, but not too long, because I didn't want to get too tired. However, because my high school was very small, we did not have a huge stable of runners on the team. This meant doing events that we might not be ideally suited for. I was pleased that I was somewhat correct that the middle distance event of the 800m was what was determined my strong point. Strong point being that I was nominally competitive against my other teammates, or that the event sucks so bad that no one really wants to do it. Most runners will agree that the 800m is the track equivalent of being castrated with a Swingline stapler. Do you really think the brand was necessary, label whore? Why yes, yes I do, imaginary rhetorical editor, it flows better, buttlick. ANYWAY, before I was so rudely interrupted by myself, the 800m seriously blows chunks. But that isn't the event that I am going to discuss. Because we had a small team, middle distance runners also had to do long distance duty as well.
The longest event in high school track and field is the 3200m. 8 laps around the track, or as I would normally do, keep on running until someone told me to stop. Now back in the 80s and 90s, the 3200 took a relatively long time to run, especially in high school. It was the eleventh event of a track meet out of 12. I ran the 4x800m relay, the 1600m, the 800m, and the 3200. This means that I had already run 2 miles before this torture event disguised as a legitimate race. Now in fairness, the 800 m is the 9th event, and it's separated by the 200m before the 3200m. This means you have like 40 seconds of rest before you're back on the track! What the fuck! This is incredibly poor planning for small schools. I'm not going to turn this into a bitch session about logistical flaws on PIAA AA track and field management, I need to get to the gist of a terrible, terrible May afternoon. Now because the race is so damn excruciatingly, exhaustingly, numbingly long, boys and girls race at the same time. If you don't do this, track events become the length of Congressional hearings about Russian collusion, and even less interesting. My first away track meet as a freshman was at Conrad Weiser high school in 1989. Why do you remember the high school, Derek? Oh, you're about to find out, buddy.
There was a runner on the Conrad Weiser's girls track team that was, how do I put this....a human electron. She easily won the 1600m, which was not run simultaneously with the boy's 1600m. She was a senior, but rumour has it for the sake of this story that she was actually a grad student at the University of Arkansas brought in as a ringer. My concern is that I tried to look up her name, but I can't find this Atalanta anywhere in the District III record books, so this might make what happened even sadder. Almost as sad as the hypothesized resulting hairy adam's apple from rampant steroid abuse, but hey, if you can't do the punishment, don't do the crime. Ok, so I'm bone-drenchingly exhausted by the time the 3200 comes up. But my coach tells me that my huge blister on my heel isn't a blister at all, but in fact white-out that I applied several minutes ago, and makes me run the damn race. What a dick. So the 12 of us line up for the race, six guys and six girls. The gun goes off. I do what I normally do. I run an 800m race and then just try and hold on as long as possible until someone yells at me to quit running. This means that in every single 1600 and 3200 race I have ever run, I am always in the lead for the first two laps. I usually had such a big lead that I would hear comments like "Wow, he's really good!" This would massage my ego for, oh, about two minutes until they then went, "Oh, never mind." My pace would fall off in an almost impressive manner because I was really fucking tired! Around the 5th lap, the unthinkable happened. Hard on my heels is this Mary Decker Slaney impersonator about to pass me. Her teammates started getting really excited and encouraging her to complete the humiliation. I started looking for the starter pistol to see if I could just shoot myself to avoid this humiliation. But then she passed another dude, so I started to feel less ashamed. What a premature emotion that was. My sure-fire ability to put one foot in front of the other was being seriously scrutinized, and by the opposite gender, no less. How does this get any worse? Well, remember, there are 8 laps to the 3200. I just got passed on the 5th lap. We have 3 more laps to go, amigo. Yup, you guessed the next step to this bucket of yuck. My pace slowed down severely because the white-out actually started to burn or because I'm a terrible long distance runner. One of the two. Suddenly I hear a large commotion. I also see directly next to me my now very attentive track coach, Keith Flicker. Miss Posterchild for Female Achievement is hard on my heels about to lap me. I'm not just last, I'm REALLY LAST. And this chick is about to do something that hasn't probably been repeated since. She was going to completely lap a boy. Although at that moment, I would have surrendered my man card and claimed eunuch status. My coach is screaming at me to not let this happen and literally, he said "If you let her lap you, you are walking home." To which I responded (oddly not out of breath, either) "But I'm really tired!" The opposing team is absolutely going bonkers and cheering her on like it's the goddamn Olympics and a Wheaties cover is on the line. I really did try to not let her pass me, but I also had the mental fortitude of a meth addict in the South. I just couldn't overcome my obstacles. And the whole place goes nuts as she just crosses the finish line in front of me and I had another whole lap to go.
Do you have any idea how lonely it is to be the only guy left running with five other girls? I started getting scared that the other girls would get motivated to beat me as well, but thankfully, none of the other girls were sponsored by Nike, and I just had to shoulder the embarrassment of only having one girl lap me in the race. I wish I actually did have to walk back home, because the ride back home was pretty miserable. I imagined any laughter to be about my woeful performance. Now I have never been lapped (or beaten) by a girl ever again (not that there is anything wrong with that), but then again, do you really need to? Having it happen to an adolescent boy in the 80s actually put me in rarified company. Hey, if you're going to be terrible, you might as well make it epic. The only silver lining in this story is that I was able to give someone a really cool story that people probably doubt ever happened, but happen it did. I managed to increase my speed a little bit, to the point where I briefly ran track in college, where my events were the 800m, javelin catching, and denying I was the guy that got lapped by a girl. There is no tie-in to adoption to this story, because one tragedy is enough for this post, don't you think?
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