On Wednesday, September 27th, 2017, after a night of drinking in a testosterone-filled room filled with hundreds of traders, I shook hands with two of my friends and made what may turn out to be the most ill-advised bet of my life. The question was whether with one year of training, I could run a 400 meter race in 56.00 seconds or less. I won’t divulge the exact size of the bet here, but suffice it to say, I am a big time gambler, and this was by far the largest bet of my life.
My friends had good reason to feel confident about this bet. I am past my athletic prime at 34 years old, stand at a mere 5′ 7″ and 135lb, and live a fairly sedentary lifestyle. The highlights of my sports resume look like this:
- Almost cleared the minimum height in pole vaulting my freshman year of high school
- Awarded a green belt in taekwondo my sophomore year of college, almost won a match in competition
- Captained our company coed dodgeball team to a winless season in 2009
The following Saturday, I headed to the track with my friend Kyle to do a time trial to see where I was at. I had no idea how to pace myself, as the last time I had done a timed sprint was probably a 50 yard dash in 3rd grade. I gave it everything I had on that run. But my cardio gave out halfway through and my legs ran out of juice.
I remember the grim look on his face as I crossed the finish line. “82 seconds,” he announced. I had a lot of work to do.
As I lay sprawled on my back, pondering whether to call an ambulance as I fought the urge to vomit, I started to chuckle at what an idiot I was. If I had done this time trial first I would have never made the bet. How in the world was I going to bring my time down from 82 seconds to 56 seconds?
But you know what. If Hernán Cortés hadn’t scuttled his ships behind him after landing at Veracruz in 1519, his men would have always had the retreat option in the back of their minds, they wouldn’t have been 100% committed to their mission, and the Spanish conquest of Mexico may have failed. When retreat isn’t an option, you give yourself the chance to realize your true potential.
My bet has been made. There’s no turning back. It’s time to discover what I’m capable of.