Tuesday, September 4, 2012

El Guapo Vs the Hurdles Story

I'd like to start this post by saying I'm an athlete.  Not a great one, but still an athlete.  I can produce in an athletic event.  I won't necessarily dominate, but I'm not going to bad.  Let's say if there were two captains picking a basketball team for a pick up game, I'm not the guy the captain is eager to pick with his first selection, but I'm not the guy who gets chosen after the fat 40 year old in his mid-life crisis.  I'm the guy in a t-shirt and shorts picked third just because I look like I might be able to run up and down the court a couple times (which I can).  Now that we've established my state of athleticism, let's get started.

I ran Cross Country throughout high school.  I had some good times running in the fall, but in the spring I swam.  At least I did until my Junior year in high school when I made the controversial switch from Swimming to Track & Field.  (It wasn't really that controversial at all.  I'm not sure anyone noticed.)  My Track coach was also my Cross Country coach, and since Cross Country was all long distance it made sense that my coach, Tony (he's a legend) put me in the long distance events.  So I ran events like the 800, and the 1600 and so on.  As much as I liked long distance running I had other aspirations; I wanted to the run the hurdles.  How I longed to run the track, leaping over hurdles, and claim victory and glory.

Me & Tony

I approached Tony with this radical idea once before a meet and wisely he told me no.  My spirits were light-weight crushed, but I didn't lose hope.  I knew it was my destiny to run the hurdles.  So I persisted and kept asking him before meets if I could run the hurdles until one day he said yes.  I couldn't contain my excitement.  It was like asking the hottest girl in school out to prom and her saying yes, except I was asking Tony if I could run the 300 hurdles and him saying sure.  Prior to this day I had never jumped a hurdle, so I figured that moment would be best to start practicing.  I picked out a hurdle and practiced jumping over it, and to my surprise I was clearing it with a few inches to spare.  What I didn't know at the time was that I was jumping the women's height.

I don't remember which team we were running against or what I had for lunch earlier that day but I remember this race vividly.  I approached my lane with great anticipation.  There were only three people in this race including myself.  Both men where on either side of me.  They were tall and very athletic looking.  They had their starting blocks all set up; these guys looked like they knew what they were doing.  They looked down at me and smiled, the same way cool kids smile at a little nerdy kid when he asks if he could join their table for lunch.  They had the audacity to set up my starting blocks for me, but I didn't care; I was just focused on the race.

We were set to race.  I waited anxiously until the race to start until finally... the gun sounded.  The two boys got off to a really good start.  I really, really good start.  Way better than I had anticipated.  They I was halfway to my first hurdle and these boys had already cleared it.  It was at this moment I realized I was going to come in third.  But I still need to finish the race.  With each step I approached the my first hurdle.  Finally as I was prepared to make my first leap I saw how high the hurdle was and I stopped in my tracks.  This hurdle was up to about my chest at the time.  I knew I was not going to make it, so I did the only logical thing I could think of: I climbed over it.  My friend and teammate AJ was watching this race from the side, laughing at my struggle to clear the hurdle.  At the time he must have been joking, but in the heat of the moment I thought he was serious when he yelled out, "Go under the hurdles!"

And went under the hurdles I did.  As I approached the second hurdle, I swallowed my pride and dove to ground.  I crawled through the hurdles and as soon as I was clear I got back up and kept on running.  I was ashamed at first, but only at first.  I knew it was the only way.  I went under the next handful of hurdles as planned, the shame washing away each time I crawled.  By the time there were only a few hurdles left I looked around to see a crowd surrounding me, cheering (and laughing)!  This hum drum event had an audience, a star.  It wasn't the best of circumstances, but at the time I thought fans are fans.  I finished strong for them, and by "finished strong" I mean I went under the last three hurdles.  I finished the race, and one of the most embarrassing chapters of my Track career came to an end.  I did redeem myself in the 300 hurdles a year later and completed them a year later, but no one remembers that story.

Is there a moral to this story?  Yeah, there is.  (Bet you didn't know I had morals.)  The lesson here is that you should always go after your dreams, no matter how stupid they seem.  You might find something you love or you might embarrass yourself like I did, but at least you tried.  Worst case scenario you have a pretty funny story to tell.  And as embarrassing as this story is (not one of my Guapo moments), I'm not ashamed to tell it, because at the end of the day, I'm a pretty good looking guy and isn't that all that matters.  (Having a nice personality helps.  So does the ability to clear hurdles.)

Ok, folks.  That's if for today's blog.  I have started my Sophomore year at Cal State Dominguez Hills for any of you wondering where I have gone.  Don't worry, just because I'm not in the Bay Area doesn't mean I'm not in your hearts.  I'm probably going to be a little more busy because of school, but I'll still try to find time to blog.  Until my next post, stay Guapo out there guys.