So of course the initial inhibition is, 'Damn, how is this going to work? How can I blend in with a group of guys who already know each other well, and speak very little English?'
Well...the answer came a little sooner than expected. And came in the form of 'Coach!' Jorge Ivan, currently the strength and conditioning coach at Cal Berkeley, was so gracious enough to offer some guidance to our preparation and training for Paris. Thankful as I am, I cursed the day he was born at least 9 times the 1st day he took us out on the track.
There were 6 of us there. And let me tell you, nothing can draw a group of guys together quite like suffering. Coach saw to it that no more than 20 minutes into the workout we were all feeling REAL unified in our struggle. I was probably the 1st to scream (in anguish.) But I certainly wasn't the last!!
He had us tappin our feet in and outta ropes. Doing defensive slides for what seemed like miles. And evilest of all, he finished us off with SUICIDES! I haven't done those since High School. But to make matters worse..he TIMED us (the nerve of this guy.) So our 2nd run had to be faster than the 1st. Only problem is, I thought I was about to toss my cookies after the 1st. I was thinking 'How the hell am I'm gonna conjure enough energy to do this again? Let alone FASTER!?!?' But then I looked to my left, and my boy ST looked at me and said.... 'SHIIIIIT!!' And just like that, the language barrier had been broken!!
The good thing with coaches approach is he put us in teams, so we were constantly competing to better our previous times. This made for some comraderie amongst us as we got to clapping and shouting, routing each other on... That is, when we had the breath to do so.
Looking back I think that was a monumental day for our squad. Prior to that we'd only had conversations about what we were setting out to do. This solidified a commitment from everyone. Bound by our pain, there was a heightened sense of respect. As each of us knew, not only what we'd just been through, but also what it was we were getting ourselves into...