My husband is kind, loving, and good. He is also, quite possibly, the most competitive person on Earth, but since I am the second, I forgive him this fault. Let’s call him “Jay” for the purposes of this blog. One thing that Jay must win is any sort of athletic challenge. Now, to put this into perspective you must have an accurate mental image of Jay. Visualize a well groomed and close shaven Viking. He is 6’1″ tall and about 225 pounds. He wears a size 13 ring and shoe. There is no way a man that large should be able to run a seven minute mile or mountain bike a single track that a mountain goat is too scared to climb. His first ever marathon, at the ripe old age of 38, wasn’t just a marathon, no mere 26.2 miles. Oh, no! It was an ultra-marathon. 31.6 miles, that he signed up for about a week prior and did no training for. He finished it, with time to spare. He did the Leadville 50 that year, too. That’s a 50-mile mountain bike race in Leadville, Colorado, that people train for all year and come from around the world to ride. Professionals add it to their annual circuit. The town sits at about 10,400 feet above sea level, and the course climbs to 12,500. He’d been mountain biking for all of three weeks that year and finished in under the cutoff. He returned at the age of 40 and completed the Leadville 50 ultra-marathon, which was, obviously 50 miles. Why would you run anything less?
I secretly wonder if Jay’s had some sort of government cyborg upgrade, like Lee Majors in The Million Dollar Man. At any rate, he generally crushes all comers in any normal running event, like morning PT. Jay is in the Army. They see this big man lumbering up to the start and silently snicker, thinking he will be soon left in their proverbial dust, especially the younger guys who work for him. They see this as their chance to stick it to the boss, and then he blows by them like he’s on wheels. It’s really quite amusing to watch.
A couple of weeks ago, Jay decided he was gaining a bit of weight. It wasn’t slowing him down any, but he didn’t care for the fit of his waistband. He purchased himself an early Christmas present in the form of a Fitbit Surge. He gleefully showed me his daily step count and floors climbed. He increased all his daily goals. 10,000 steps a day just wouldn’t do. He had to have 15,000, minimum. I patted him on the back and made all the appropriate exclamations expressing my pride in his achievements.
It must be said that I, too, am no slouch in the fitness category. I exercise daily, having concocted my own regimen that works well for me and my tendency toward boredom. I entered a 5K once and finished it handily; but I have no need to prove anything to myself and my interest in races soon waned. However, I became intrigued by the notion of seeing just how much I do in a day, and when Jay offered to get me a Fitbit of my own, I accepted. That’s when the competition started.
Now, to me, there never could be any athletic competition between Jay and myself. I readily admit defeat even before the race begins. No contest. He runs 13 miles. I run three. He plans his workouts based on aerobic versus anaerobic days and activities to maximize his endurance. I plan mine based on what I feel like doing that day and avoiding doing the same thing twice in a week. Jay was content to show off his 20,000 steps and 40 floors against my 14,000 and 30 floors, and I was content bow to his superior athleticism. Until we compared the one area in which size is his downfall. The one category he cannot hope to win, as it is controlled entirely by nature…heart rate.
Scientists say an elephant’s heart beats an average of 20 beats per minute, and a mouse’s heart beats over 200 times a minute. It is a scientifically proven fact. The larger the animal, the slower the heart rate. Jay is a large man. I am, at 5’7″ and 118 pounds, relatively diminutive next to him. My resting heart rate is about 74 beats a minute. His is 58. I walk around my house doing normal activities with a heart rate in the mid-90’s, burning fat. I sit on the couch burning calories at a rate that Jay can’t touch until he’s been on the elliptical for about 10 minutes. It annoys him to no end! But, being the loving husband and good sportsman that he is, anytime I get down about being obliterated in the step counts, he quickly points out that as I stand there, pouting, my little body is happily burning fat and calories, while his is barely staying awake. Perhaps it is time for each of us to find a more compatible Fitbit buddy, if we can find anyone willing to take on Jay.