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August 18, 2004 - 3:30 pm

SHORTER OF BREATHÖ

Thereís nothing like contemplating the short- and long-term effects of divorce on your small children coinciding with a terrorist attack to start you drinking and running, both of which I took up with vigor in the fall of 2001.

The hyperbolic increase in drinking was a conscious decision designed to make life with an absentee husband and two babies bearable. The running was due to insomnia and began in the middle of the night Ė in Dr Martens and corduroy pants. The combination of the two (drinking and running, not Docs and corduroys, silly) seems to be a pretty good elixir for now, but I donít know how long I can keep it up. Itís been three years, and not much has changed. Except that Iím in better shape now, and my liver has filed for divorce.

To up the dosage, so to speak, Iíve decided to swim/run/bike a sprint triathlon on Hilton Head Island this September 11. John says heís going to train for one next May, but his self-discipline could be described as "loosely conceptual" at best, and he gets winded lifting a Charleston Chew. (I suspect heís reading this, and that last line was supposed to motivate him with anger. Itís called tough love, honey.)

The fact that I exercise at all is somewhat of a miracle, due to my childhood experience with sports. The smallish southern city where I grew up had one public high school, which was about half white and half black, and one private school, which was about half white and half whiter. Indeed, we were color blind Ė we only saw black and white. Okay, at the public school there may have been one Korean (Sook-hee, the valedictorian)Öone Indian (Mahadvi, from India, not North America)Öand one Jew (Harrison, his family ran the Army/Navy store)ÖYep, thatís it, and I swear to god, I did not make up that last sentence. I went to the public school where all the sports teams were super competitive Ė weíre talking multiple national championships Ė and only the biggest and strongest were allowed to compete. To make a long story short and snappy, I am still the scrawny white girl I was then, and I have almost exorcised (pun intended) from my psyche the demons of the taunts and jeers at being last in everything. The dodge ball scars have all but healed. Externally, that is.

I tried cheerleading for a year, but there was an incident with one of the other girlsí boyfriends and they unanimously decided that a girl like me did not reflect well on the squad as a whole (thatís not what he said. *rimshot*). So, I combined my love-at-a-distance of athletics with my love-at-close-range of math and physics (read: geek) and became a basketball statistician. That was truly a blast. Seriously. I got so into the games without having to gossip or talk trash with anyone during half time. Plus I got to ride on the bus with all the boys. Whoís cheering now, ladies?

Anyway, back to the triathlon. There are varying distances to the sprint triathlon, which is just a shorter version of the traditional triathlon, and the one Iím going to do consists of a 12.5 mile bike ride, a 3.1 mile run, and a 500 yard swim. I run about fifteen miles a week already, so I could handle the biking and running now, hung over and without even training, so those portions of this particular triathlon may not be much of a challenge. The swimming, however, has me a tad worried. I can swim, but Iíve never done laps or tried for distance or anything like that. And I donít belong to a gym or a YMCA, so I donít really have a place to practice. Not to mention the fact that I am directly descended from cats and positively loathe getting wet. AND itís an ocean swim which means I probably shouldnít wear my lucky ham. Damn it.

Wish me luck.

~Samantha

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