Friday, March 7, 2008

The Humbling Hike

This week on American Idol, the contestant interviews were all about their most embarrassing moments. I love embarrassing moments--mine and everyone else's--and it started me thinking of some gems from my past. Since I don't mind if people laugh at my expense, I thought I'd do a small series of "Most Embarrassing's". For your entertainment.

I've been obsessed with fitness and exercise since I was a teen. I got aerobics tapes for Christmas. I went to the weight room after school to lift with the football players; I walked in the evenings with my mom; I spent Saturday's with Jane Fonda and Callan Pinkney. I was super proud of my washboard abs and tight glutes.

It's not as easy to work out obsessively once you start having children.

So, now I go in obsessive spurts. Very dedicated for a month, then Cinnabon. A really whole-hearted week, then Ben and Jerry's. Today's the day, then McDonald's. Overall, I've kept my weight and fitness in check, but I'm certainly not as consistent as I should be, or would like to be.

I like to hike. At least, that's what I tell myself. It involves cute hiking shoes, short shorts, and a ponytail, all things that I can pull off fairly well. So, when I reconnected (while living in UT)with an old friend from my childhood ward (in NJ), and she said, "Wanna go hiking?" I said, "Yeah! I love to hike!"

Now, this friend had no children. I had three. She was almost 5 years younger than I, too. But, growing up I really, really, really wanted to marry her brother, so in case the word got back to him that I was still hot stuff, I had to make a good impression. I couldn't be some washed-up old maid. You understand.

She had some friends come along, and we met early on Saturday morning. I had on my very cute Merrell hiking shoes, some special wicking socks (see, experienced hiker!), my very cute short hiking shorts, a fanny pack equipped with water bottles and some nuts and dried fruit, and a fitted yellow tee. Oh, and the youthful ponytail. Full makeup, of course. (What if she told her brother she'd seen me?) Just for some energy, I ate a banana and some strawberry yogurt.

We gabbed on the drive to the canyon. Little Cottonwood? Big Cottonwood? I don't know. One of those, I think. It was beautiful. And it was so weird to be here with this friend who'd known me since I was a little girl, and here she was all grown up! We had a great time updating the other on our lives since. We'd both been through divorces, now I'd met this amazing guy on the's your brother?

We parked the car at the bottom of the trailhead and I could see right away that this was no hike for pansies. All I could see ahead of me was uphill. No good. Early morning and uphill aren't my favorite combination. But, I'm not saying a word! Yeah! Let's go! Let's sing! Well, okay, we didn't sing. But I was cheery.

Until about after 2 minutes and 16 seconds. And then I was having problems. Waves of nausea were swelling within me. My palms were sweating. Yeah! This is great! I may be in my 30's, but look at me keep up with you guys! Except then, I wasn't keeping up so well, and the distance between us grew.

And I was gonna yak. I knew it. How does one gracefully bow out to vomit?

Well, first I sat down and cracked a joke about needing to rest. But they noticed. "You don't look so good." So much for looking the part of being in shape. Two minutes in and I'm discovered as a fraud.

"You know what?" I said, nonchalantly. "You girls go on ahead. I'll just rest here for a minute and catch my breath and then I'll jog on up the trail and rejoin you."

"Oh, we'll wait for you," they offered.

"No, really," I begged, feeling the sourness rising in my esophagus. "Please go. I'll be there in just a minute."

"You sure?"

"So sure."

As they reluctantly turned to go, I waited till they had rounded the bend, and then I bolted for some greenery to fertilize. Up it all came. My stomach was wrenching, my whole body was shaking and sweating. Puking my guts out into the foliage just off the trail. Like a strawberry-banana smoothie. I'll never forget it. As the muscles in my stomach finally relax, I plop down on a tree stump and rinse off my mouth with one of my trusty water bottles. My hair is a mess now, my face beet red, and I smell like Jamba Juice.

When up the road comes a jogger. She, too has on her cute hiking shoes. And some stylish hiking shorts. Even a ponytail.

And only one leg.

Don't I feel like a clod. I can't make it up the first hill without throwing up, and here this amputee comes sprinting by me with her artificial limb.

"Hey!" she says, smiling. "You okay?"

"Oh, yeah," I feigned. "Just taking my time and enjoying the trail." Okay, so that was just a lie.

Fortunately, I see the humor in it, and now that my stomach is emptied I feel a burst of energy. I hike it double-time up the trail and catch up to my friends. Who can't believe I threw up. And who love that a one-legged woman is kicking my butt up the canyon.

We made it to the top. We had a great time together. As it turns out, her brother is married...with kids.

Please don't tell him anyway. Let's just keep this one to ourselves. How embarrassing.


Misty said...

it's a great story! Maybe smoothies should come with a hike warning :)

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh dear, I was grinning, wincing, and giggling over this one.

I once climbed a mountain to impress a guy. Oi. I just about died.

Luisa Perkins said...

You're so funny!

Don't you think it was the altitude?

Laurie said...

You are funny! I think it's great that you can retell these stories and laugh. I'm not so good at laughing at myself. I can't wait for the rest of your little mini series!

Sarah said...

Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh!

Jenna Wood said...

Ah, hiking woes. I could share a story, but I'm still too embarrassed.

Anonymous said...

I have been obessessed with exercise tapes since Jane Fonda.. and that was a LONG time ago..

This story made me giggle a little sorry.. not at you of course.. with you.. :)

Momo Fali said...

I'm crying over here. You crack me up!

My husband was overtaken on a ski slope by a one-legged skiier. I'll never let him live it down.

Lisa Allen said...

That is so tell a great story!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my cre8buzz page. You and your husband look way to young to have 7 kids.

Anonymous said...

awh jenna,
this was adorable. great day darlin, kathleen xoxo

careyttops or katelyn's kid kitchen said...

that is too funny- love the one legged hiker!

Julie Wright said...

I maintain that you weren't out of shape at all. You were sick. I'm failing a complaint with the yogurt company.

You are funny! Next time you can come hike with me and we can wheeze our way up the moutnain. Mid thirties are not what I thought they'd be!

Annette Lyon said...

This is so great! I love you all the more for this story.

And it reminds me of a great hiking story of my own. Maybe I'll blog about it--if I get the guts, because what if the people it's about read it? Hmmm. :)