Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ab Crunch Challenge 2010 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

I know that we don't typically post more than once a week and that it usually takes place on a Friday and more often than not, it's written as a joint blog. You can consider this a special treat them. I hope that if you haven't read our Friday's post yet that you don't neglect it in lieu of this one as it has nothing to do with baseball whereas Friday's post has everything to do with baseball. I just felt that you'd might be curious to know the results of a charity event that we've been talking about for months now.

Saturday, March 27, 2010: Mamadukes was kind enough to drive Lisa and I to the Lady of America (LOA) in West Hempstead where the Ab Crunch Challenge has taken place for the last 3 years. The event was scheduled to start at 11 am. After participating in 2 previous Ab Crunch Challenges, I've got it down to a science. No heavy meals prior to the event and certainly no beverages. No matter how thirsty you get. I'll never forget that during my first event, with 30 minutes still left, the urge to use the bathroom became unbearable. Each crunch performed added a brief, yet powerful blast of pressure to my bladder. I ended up completing about 4,100 crunches by the end of the hour, immediately followed by the quickest dash of my life to the bathroom. I am confident that at the prime of my physical condition during my college years playing softball, I never would've made it down the first baseline as fast. However, the lesson was learned. No water, no coffee, no juice would be imbibed prior to the event. My thirst would have to wait to be quenched.

We reached LOA well in advance. Upon arrival, we found that KJOY 98.3 had set up a tent outside the gym. Cars driving by honked in order to get a reaction out of the radio station's staff. Two enthusiastic men in apricot-colored KJOY polo t-shirts manned the table. Speakers blared ABBA's "Dancing Queen." Bracing ourselves against the biting wind, we ducked into the glass doors of the building, avoiding the radio station hoopla. Inside, I handed in my envelope of donations, we signed in, and in return, we were given our event t-shirts. Lisa would be my "Crunch Counter."
Mamadukes served as her friend, Roberta's "Crunch Counter." Roberta is the reason I ever got involved in the event in the first place. Roberta is an LOA member. I am not. In 2008, the event's sophomore year, Roberta and Mamadukes felt that this was an event that "I would do well in." Now here I was in my third year. A poster charting the gym's fundraising progress was tacked to the wall. They were at $8,000.

During set up, a journalist and photographer from the West Hempstead Herald documented the scene, spoke to organizers and participants. The Herald was not permitted to stay during the event, so the few of us that arrived early were staged in mock crunching scenarios. Five of us, including Lisa, sprawled on our backs on top of bright colored yoga mats and performed proper crunches, smiling while they photographed the scene. Lisa joked loudly that this was not what she had trained for. She had spent the last few months preparing her thumbs for repeated clicks on the counter. Roberta and I laughed. They also snapped photos of Mamadukes pretending to count my crunches and urge me on. Now that I’ve seen how demanding of a drill sergeant she can actually become, standing directly over my face while I obliged her yelling with more crunches, I am happy to have Lisa remain as my counter. Roberta can keep Mamadukes. : ) The event hadn’t started yet and my count was already up to 30! I started to regret my decision to perform a trial run the Thursday before. My midsection still felt stiff.

Burton Bridges from St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital traveled all the way from Memphis, Tennessee to observe how the West Hempstead’s LOA efficiently executed their Ab Crunch Challenge event each year. His goal was to use his research to better the event at other gyms and to possibly encourage other organizations to join. He wanted to film brief interviews with a few of the participants and splice together snippets of these interviews in order to create an upbeat video that would hopefully garner the participation of even more fitness facilities. Why they felt this would be something I’d excel in is beyond me. I may write somewhat well, but I speak as if English is a second language. The woman in charge of sound handled my body in such an intimate manner in order to hook me up to a mic that I felt like we probably should’ve gone on a date first. Lisa took the opportunity to snap photos.

Thank god I wore underwear.
I am pretty sure that I sounded like I suffered from a speech impediment during my interview, so I can only hope that they’ll cut me from the video.
Knowing the photographs would be nearly impossible for us to take during the Ab Challenge, I snapped a photo of Lisa “counting” just before the event started.
Mamdukes took this photo of us together.
The hour kicked off and the first 10 minutes were the hardest. The upper quadrant of my abdominals cringed from the effort. Again, I regretted the trial run that I had performed on Thursday night. I continued to forge ahead at the same pace, but with less confidence than when I had arrived. My personal goal was to hit at least 6,000 crunches, but at the way things felt at the start, I was worried about at least reaching last year’s total of 5,591. However, the consistent training that my body had undergone eventually kicked in and by the time I had switched from my upper to the right side of my abdominals, my muscles responded effectively. The rest of the hour went smoothly, Lisa notifying me of my progress in increments of 100. We tried desperately to ignore the “flopping fish” cruncher because as my Mamadukes said, “it’s a charity event, not a competition,” but the former athlete in me found it difficult, especially when the fish’s total nearly doubled mine. It was an injury to pride if you will. Is it silly to feel burned by something this stupid? Absolutely. I still couldn’t help but feel that way. I ended up finishing the event with a total of 7,048 crunches. While I am satisfied that I surpassed my crunching goal, I wonder exactly how much more I can possibly improve? In one hour, can a person really perform 10,000 crunches or more while executing correct form? I don’t know the answer to that question.
To celebrate our triumph, we destroyed our hard physical labor with IHOP (as one should, I feel). Lisa ordered the breakfast sampler:
I devoured a stack of gorgeous chocolate chip pancakes:
I sadly cannot recall with Mamadukes and Roberta ordered and I’m not sure what this conveys about me. Perhaps I found nothing scintillating about their meals.

At blogging time, the West Hempstead has raised $11,000 of its $15,000 goal. Thanks to my tight network of support, I had been able to raise $560 for this amazing and important cause, $60 more than my personal fundraising goal. I love my friends and family.


BallHype: hype it up!

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