Once upon a time ago I was on a 10 mile race team. During the season we had one long run per week that was generally ten to fifteen miles long. When it came to how I performed on the team I was pretty much the worst, well, except for this one thing. There was one thing on the team that I was pretty great at… but it wasn’t racing ten miles.
Every week after we would punish ourselves by “running easy” for ten to fifteen miles (every practice felt like a race to me- but then again I was pretty slow) a bunch of us would have a little post run competition. That competition was to see who could drink the highest number of little cartons of milk immediately after the run was finished.
The contest was every bit as childish as you think it was. There were only two options- chocolate milk and strawberry milk. Now everyone had better numbers with the chocolate milk but the strawberry milk… that was what separated the serious competitors from the amateurs.
I am not really sure how to explain why we thought it was a good idea to run for at least ten miles and then pound as many little milks as we could (usually until someone would vomit)- but it was a universally loved team tradition and who were any of us to fight tradition?
I remember fondly the day that I first ran ten miles in under an hour (I ran a 59.30 while my fastest team mate ran a 55 flat- I gave it my all and he just did the work out at his reasonable pace for context). The reason I remember that day is not because of my effort in the workout (which was pretty respectable for me at the time- although not anywhere near a good race pace) but because I drank seven individual cartons of strawberry milk immediately after completing my run.
Guys- that is getting close to half a gallon if my math is right. The fast guy puked after five little cartons and I held on for seven to clinch the win. Only one person drank six and I should point out that my heart rate was still around 160 beats per minute while I was knocking back the sweet sweet nestle products and I did not even puke at all that day.
Now I may have been a bench warmer on the team when it came to running but I was a champion that day when it came to drinking sickeningly sweet milk products. I think we can all agree that the only thing this proves is that boys are kind of stupid sometimes and we need to be patient with them. But I still need you to know that I won that day. I don’t want any of you to try it. I don’t think it was a good idea even back then- but I still need you to know I did a hard thing… and I won. I’d like to think that running has made it easier for me to do hard things. Let’s just hope I do some hard things other than that.