Happily Even After
A O River!
by Stacey Noem
Joshua and I used to really enjoy playing basketball together.
It’s the competition.
Whether we are on the same or opposing teams we value the opportunity to push ourselves physically and mentally together. Both of us are pretty good-natured and pretty intense competitors.
For the last five or so years we haven’t had an outlet for this kind of shared competition. And while we didn’t necessarily name it as an absence in our lives, we did jump at the opportunity to compete together recently in the Urban Adventure Games.
The Games in our town admit teams of two, competing as a pair, in one of three categories: Family (a parent with a child), Open (recreational) and Elite (speaks for itself).
Having never done anything like this before, we opted for the Open category and registered our team as “A O River!”—a shout out to the show Portlandia.
To prepare for the games we came up with matching outfits that included shared rainbow colored socks from Portland, a “PhilosoRaptor” Thinker-styled dinosaur shirt for Joshua, and a gold skirt for me. We were definitley representing the hipster contingent. Or, maybe we were the hipster contingent.
In hopes of preserving our marital harmony, Joshua also tried to prepare himself to be responsive to my heightened communication expectations. That is to say, he knows that while I usually like a fairly significant amount of verbal communication, in the case of competition, my needs get exponentially greater. Scary, I know, but an incredibly considerate idea on his part.
So, what are the Urban Adventure Games? Funny thing, we thought they were an obstacle course-style event with some biking between obstacle sites. In actuality, they are a bike race around MOST of our town with stops to complete tasks from time to time.
See the difference? — The amount of biking.
This is notable, because neither one of us has biked more than 3 miles at a time, oh, um, EVER. So LOTS more biking than we had ever anticipated. I would say perhaps 15 miles more biking than we had anticpated.
But again, we are pretty intense competitors. So even though I stopped feeling my legs half way into it and Josh went so far as to say, “My legs are toast” after one task where we had to carry 300 pounds from point A to point B, neither one of us slowed down on the bikes. In retrospect I think that each of us was waiting for the other to start slowing down. But that was never going to happen.
In fact, over the course of the 4-hour race, we just kept shouting “A O…” and “…River!” as a call and response back and forth to each other. It ended up being a surprisingly fitting battle cry since we had mutiple challenges on or around a river including standing paddle boards, kayaking and a zipline.
In the end we finished the race, crossing the line soaking wet and hand-in-hand, just under the time limit.
The experience really wasn’t anything like what I had expected.
If I had been competing as an individual, the disparity would really have bothered me and negatively impacted my time pretty severely. But with Joshua, every adventure is enjoyable, major discomforts are simply opportunities for a stupid joke, and the appropriate response to bad DJ music is to start an interpretive dance in public.
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