Saturday, January 30, 2016

Training with the Boys

I grew up with big brothers, and my earliest childhood memories include chasing them through deserted fairgrounds, following them into the woods on adventures, trying to stay up with them on my skates through the streets of our neighborhood.  I think maybe my mom forgot to tell me I was a girl.  It's like that weird phenomenon that happens sometimes in the animal kingdom.  A baby duck is rescued and raised by the family cat.  The poor duck thinks it's a cat.  I must have thought I was a boy.  

Early on and throughout childhood, my best friends were boys. There was Jon who lived down the street in Portola, Curtis who lived across the street in Placerville, and Kevin who was a few miles up the road but our families were friends so we hung out a lot. I seemed always to naturally gravitate toward boys and the reason most likely was that I liked to do the same stuff. Tonka trucks and army men instead of baby dolls and barbies.  I liked getting filthy looking for frogs and snakes, and exploring haunted, abandoned shacks in the woods.  I liked building forts and climbing trees.  One day my mom looked at my skinned knees and scars and said, "Oh Cindy, you've ruined your body.  You'll never be able to wear dresses with those scarred up knees."  YES!  Success!

It is no surprise then, when my running days began, that I loved to run with the boys.  In High School when our coach would send us out for our runs off campus, there'd be two groups that would naturally form: the chatty girls in one group, and the boys + Cindy in the other group.  I didn't know why it always worked out that way but it seemed the natural flow. I wasn't interested in goofy, girly gossip on the run.  Running was serious business and it seemed the boys had that figured out just a bit better.  And somehow it was just more comfortable.

This brings me to the point of this blog.  I love training with the boys.  I've been doing it for long enough now that I've got it all fully analyzed.  Boys are awesome and here are 10 reasons why:

  1. They are, on average, stronger athletes than females so the "challenge factor" to stay up with them can be off the charts!
  2. They tend to be emotionally stable and level headed compared to the female athlete therefore adding a "calming factor" to the girl world.  Coach Nash will be the first to tell me "Just get out there and run girl. Stop thinking so much.  You gotta' just go."
  3. Competitively they are in another category so there is less head-to-head competition in training sessions.  Instead, they tend to be extremely supportive of female athletes who can hang with them.
  4. The conversation among boys is much more fun to listen to.  Instead of hearing what Suzy did to her boyfriend, and why everyone hates Sally, you get to listen to intellectually stimulating comparisons of UFC fighting versus boxing.
  5. Boys naturally protect females so there is an added sense of security when training with them. They typically don't drop you in remote places and leave you to figure out how to get back, and when you have a flat, they fix it for you.  If you fall behind they will fall back and pull you back in. This seems to be part of their nature.
  6. Boys are great at snot rockets and the best part is they tend to roll to the side before shooting one out, thereby keeping snot off of the girl on their shoulder.  Although today I was sitting on the wheel of a guy, when I noticed something resembling a blob (a yellowish jelly in the shape of an amoeba) fly by my head.  A near miss. Clearly he didn't know I was back there.
  7. Boys sweat a lot which can be very handy during a bike ride.  For instance, Poul is nicknamed "the swamp-cooler" so on a hot day it is advantageous to ride behind him. He has a tendency to turn his head and ask "am I splashing on you?"  When Poul turns his head, yes he splashes you.
  8. They are great at accepting me into their boy-tribe (I think it's because of my scarred up knees), so this means they don't filter their topics of conversation.  I get to hear all sorts of cool things related to male body parts and bodily functions, what they think of various women, and something about "hitting the head" comes up from time to time.
  9. There is a noted lack of drama among the boys.  However, I do still have to deal with their propensity to envy one another.  For example, Fred got new Italian something-or-other bike shoes.  All the other guys were fixated on them and asked Fred for every detail, to which Fred happily provided EVERY detail. Where he got them, what size they were, what they were made of, how much he paid, details regarding the guy who sold them to him, the other options he could have chosen, the entire story of the experience of trying them on, and it really sort of just kept going.  This scenario happens with all sorts of things, not just bike shoes.
  10. Boys love to give girls advice!  So every training session is an intensive clinic!  This advice usually starts out as a question: "Cindy, why do you peddle so hard?"  "Cindy, why aren't you carrying more water?"  "Cindy, why did you cut the curve at that angle?"  "Cindy, why does your wet suit have that big wrinkle in the middle?" "Cindy, why don't you have cool Italian leather cycling shoes like me?"

John and I during the SB Tri
My number one training partner and best friend is John Abrami, who also happens to be my husband.  He is a boy!  See how that works?  It is an amazing blessing that we share training and racing goals at an intimate level, and spend quite a bit of time in training and racing together.  He is also a phenomenal swim coach adding an extra component. 

Just getting ready for a bike ride
I also have the privilege of cycling with a group comprised mostly of men and I love it (them).  They do a great job of making me feel like one of the boys and I have truly thrived in that environment.  They are challenging, encouraging, inspirational, motivating and genuine.  

All of my coaching comes from great men! John Abrami, Nash Jimenez, and Fred Maggiore. These guys are experienced, caring and lead by example.  Not only do they guide and direct me, but they also train with me. If I have any success toward reaching my goals this year, these three will be the reason.
At the top of some crazy summit in Mammoth

I'm glad my life started out with chasing my big brothers. I'm glad I still have "big brothers" to chase!  You guys are the best.

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