The idea behind the heptathlon is spectacular for someone like me (i.e., not a real competitor). Seven tries at seven different events? There's got to be one in there that I can do well at.
Let's see now, high jump, long jump, hurdles? I can handle that. Javelin, shot put? Check and check. Eight hundred meter run followed by a 200-meter run? Wait. Nobody told me there would be running involved! If I wanted to run, I'd just chase those mile runners around. I guess we'll have to turn this heptathlon (that means seven) into a pentathlon (that means two less than seven).
Luckily, Montana's resident heptathlon expert, Lindsey Hall, agreed that watching me run laps would be boring and probably too depressing to handle. We can nix that, she said. Now on to the high jump!
"Yes. Yes, I do," I responded.
Despite her best efforts, I may have been uncoachable. Turns out, high jump is only easy if you can actually jump high.
Next up, some throwing events.
The sophomore out of Missoula's Big Sky High School fitted us both with javelins and an 8-pound shot put (women's sizes for each, I found out later). With my technique down, I mimicked her throwing style to the best of my ability. Both of my throws came up well short. Her javelin toss looked good to me but must have been great based on the surrounding commentary. I'm no javelin connoisseur so I don't know what a super throw really looks like.
"That was one of your best ones yet," a nearby trackster said after our throws.
"Thanks," I replied, fully aware to whom his compliment was aimed. We can all get desperate for recognition at times; don't judge me.
With my chucking arm worn out, we moved to the long jump runway and measured out my takeoff space. This event did involve running (my old nemesis, we meet again), but I let it slide since I didn't want to look like a complete sissy. I started my lengthy strides toward the giant sandbox we were to jump in, pictured my leap perfectly and flung my body into the air, into the sand.
Sidebar: After a jump, you mark your landing spot and smooth out the giant foot/butt prints you made with a big gardening tool. It looks an awful lot like you're tilling the soil, like the seventh event — which I constantly had trouble recalling — might actually have been planting crops.
Anyway, my jump landed a foot or so short of hers, but wasn't that bad. Judging by the marks, I could've jumped over 1 1/2 AJs. That's decent in my book.
The final event of the afternoon combined a lot of the other things we'd done into one. Hurdling is like running and jumping over stuff at the same time and would probably be better if you had to throw stuff at the same time. That would have been one more thing for me to get distracted by and likely would have made my performance even worse. Our hurdle race was close for a while. I won't tell you which one of us won, but I will give you a sneak peak at the action: Somebody tripped and fell down.
I had finished my fifth sporting event of the day — way over my quota for the month.
To see video of AJ Versus Lindsey Hall and the heptathlon — and to see AJ (or Lindsey) trip on a hurdle, log onto MontanaKaimin.com/Multimedia.