"Hey, I want do a challenge..."

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Was the first thing Molly Meade said when she heard about the birthday challenge. Never mind that she had been spent the last couple of years schmoozing clients and club hopping, the former travel guide and aerobics instructor wanted an excuse to get back into shape.

She didn't have long. Her birthday was a mere two weeks away when she signed on.

Not only did she do a challenge, but she passed out over her last cocktail, the tell-tale sign of a expertly-calculated birthday.

Molly's version: 

"You're late."  

These were the first words out of Coach Manny's mouth.  No pleasantries.  No "happy birthday." "Ya, uh, but it's 9:30 on the dot right now." "Well, that's not too bad.  But we might need to cut down the bike ride some." 

So 27 miles doesn't sound that long, I'm thinking.  15 minute miles are easy, or at least they were when I biked across Iowa in High School.  But Coach Steve made it obvious that we were not in Iowa.  He could have chose a nice mellow ride.  But nooooo, he decides that we should go up "Grizzly Peak." Well, let me tell you, it's called "Grizzly" for a reason.  During the first 5 minutes he lets me know "it's all up hill from here."  And it wasn't an exaggeration - it was ALL UP HILL. And then, once we hit the top - it was ALL DOWN HILL.  Not bad, right?  Wrong. It was FREEZING.  Of course Berkeley had to choose my B-day to be freezing cold! 

Steve's version: Bike: We did the Cedar-Grizzly Peak-Skyline-old Tunnel loop. I would ride the hills fast, than descend to where she was and do them again, so I probably did the requisite 27 miles, even though the ride is probably only 16. 

Molly: So back at the house - with 5 minutes to kill - Coach Manny cooks up some chalky concoction that he chooses to call "protein" and practically force-feeds the potion down my throat.  Definitely an acquired taste.  Functional food, I suppose, but it was lacking in the taste category.  He looks at me, still shivering, and decides that maybe we should have some tea - to go - as well. Needless to say, the tea wound up on Steve's new fleece.  Sorry about that Steve.  At least it didn't burn your other wrist? On the way to the run the last thing in the world that I wanted was a cigarette - but naturally I lost that battle as well.  

"You have 27 of these to go - might as well start now if you plan on finishing." 

 So... reluctantly... we did indeed have a smoke. 

Steve's version: Had 1 cigarette at the finish during transition. 

Molly: So then we arrive at some beautiful destination in the middle of nowhere, and I am warned that the run is "straight up."  

"Figures," I mutter under my breath.  

"I thought that the run was going to be the easy part." 

"This challenge isn't for pussies."

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 Alrighty then, I guess I'm running straight up.  Through Poison Oak, I find out later.  Once again Steve races ahead, and I am left panting in his dust.  All the while I'm thinking to myself - "jeez, did I really do a marathon less than a year ago?  Man oh man am I out of shape."  

Suddenly I see a figure up ahead. "Don't walk!  C'mon - you're almost to the peak - RUN!"  Quickly it flickers through my mind that this was voluntary on my part... what on earth was I thinking...  

As I reach the top I hear the voice of coach again. "Time?"  I stumble for my watch - "We've been running for 20 minutes."  "OK - that gives you 7 minutes to get back down." 

I did it in 10, noticing all the while that there seemed to be some plants that were awfully suspicious looking... No -  Steve would warn me if there was going to be Poison Oak - it must not be...  WRONG.  He didn't want to worry me. Great.  Indeed, it was Poison Oak.  My fingers are still crossed. Coach didn't want to worry me about the stinging nettles either.  But that would explain the new red bumps creeping up on my thighs and calves after the run. 

Steve: Run: did the big hill loop. Molly finished in exactly 30 minutes, only 3 over. Not bad. I performed the same strategy on the hills. One smoke in transition 

Molly: As soon as I reached the car Steve had a cigarette waiting for me.  Talk about the last thing in the world that I could possibly want at that moment in time! 

Steve: Climb: We both did 27 problems. Molly repeated 13 + 1. All independent lines--tricky at Indian Rock. I did 27 independent lines, which as you could probably guess, means I climbed a bunch of stupid routes. 

Molly: I haven't been on real rock in years.  It was awesome.  Made me wonder why I ever stopped climbing.  This was my favorite!  

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Steve: One smoke. 

Molly: I was getting used to the torture by this point.  Besides, somehow smoking after climbing seems appropriate. 

Steve: About to start the 27 sets of push-ups and sit-ups. I will add pull-ups. 

Molly: I was forced to add the pull-ups as well - although I was assisted by the wall. And it was more than 27 sets.  It was 27 minutes... I wanted to stop after 27 sets - bit noooooo. Another cigarette, and our first beer.  It tasted great. Then onto martini's.  Gin, of course.  Ingrid and Bob joined in the festivities at Cypress Club and Romelo's.  

I think we did complete the requisite 27 drinks/ cigarettes - although I may have forced Steve to finish the extra beer. The reason for this torture, you might be wondering.  

In the words of the great Steve Edwards:  "Anybody can be fit.  But you have to be a special kind of person to be fit AND have an unhealthy lifestyle." Thank you for a very memorable and fun birthday.  Good luck to the rest of you fools!

Photos: Molly at The Grand Canyon, fininshing the LA Marathon, and out clubbing.