My good friend Roger is 5 weeks away from running his first marathon and has a photograph of me to thank. Actually he was in the picture too, and what happened to us that blurry night was an undeniable catalyst for change.
Our friendship started innocently enough around two years ago when Roger and I (Both Wisconsin natives) hatched the grand plan for Badger Nation Nashville at the Village Pub in Inglewood, TN. Wisconsin football was on a roll and we wanted to capitalize by using beer and cheese to seduce local residents into our social circle. After several PBRs we penned these highly sophisticated, yet simple bylaws that have Constitution-like staying power:
Official Badger Nation Nashville Bylaws
1. No rooting against the Badgers.
2. Spread word of the Badger.
3. Don’t shoot badgers. (Ben’s Law)*
4. Don’t diss Jeffrey Steele.
5. Meet at Village Pub & Grill when you can make it.
Fast forward two years after the “bylaw meeting” to my house, where a nice group of Badger Nation Nashville kids are celebrating another big victory. Roger and I had been drinking for about 8 hours and decided to give everyone a treat by singing Wisconsin’s Alma Mater song, “Varsity,” which was quickly caught on video. The playback was astonishing.
I had always felt pretty good about my body, but when I watched the video all I could see was a blubbery seal flopping around on a leather sofa. I begged fellow BNN member, Brian, not to post it on the web and thankfully he didn’t know how. I went silent and may have even retreated to my bedroom to sulk. What I didn’t realize at the time was, the video had a similar impact on Roger.
It didn’t happen immediately, but our minds shifted to training mode. Roger joined Weight Watchers and started running. I laid around for a few more weeks before Jim convinced me to do Couch to 5K training. I really didn’t want to run, but that video looped in the back of my mind. For the first time in my life I felt like a fat ass! I had no choice.
I have told this story a bunch of times and I’m convinced that taking a picture of yourself is the best form of motivation. Preferably late in the night after a drinking or eating binge.
What started as a 5K for me has turned into Ironman training. Roger is ready for his full, with aspirations of a Half Ironman next summer.
It has been a dicey journey that started on a bar napkin and evolved into something etched in stone. And even though the Badgers suck this year, I think Roger would happily join me for an encore rendition of Varsity after the last game of the season.
* Montana Ben is a Pub regular who spends his summers in Montana shooting badgers so they don’t fuck with his cattle.