Around 2004 or so. . . I was training for my first triathlon. What a risk I was taking – could I do it? What if I embarrased myself? If you’ve ever tried this, you will know exactly what I mean.

Anyway, I read a great book by Eric Harr called Triathlon Training In Four Hours A Week: From Beginner to Finish Line in Just Six Weeks. Aside from the fact that I thought it was a great book for a newbie, it was very readable. It contributed to one of my most enduring memories of that whole training season. “Slump!”

Let me explain. During the leadup to the event, I came down with a cold. One of those nasty summer colds that squeezes your eyes out and makes you ache all over. But wait! There was something in the book about colds. Flip, flip, flip. . . He talked about colds during training. Aha! There it is – the section talking about dealing with colds.  The author pointed to a crazy sounding concoction of vegetables and fruit that should put your cold on the run:

Alexandria’s Amazing Tonic (p. 198). You can probably find the recipe if you want the details, but it had these things in it: beets, grapefruit, oranges, lemon, carrots, celery, fresh ginger (a 2″ x 2″ piece!), an onion, and garlic. And here’s why I’m even telling you about it. This was the single-most memorable experience of my whole triathlon training experience (other than the wetsuit incident – and EVERYONE has had a wetsuit incident!).

I grabbed the book and started gathering the ingredients.  Which caught the attention of one curious and observant ten-year old boy who is genetically related to me. He watched, and I gathered. And I cut and peeled and popped all this stuff in the blender. And he watched. And I put the lid on the blender and hit start. And he watched. And I watched because this was getting interesting. The ingredients reverse-engineered into a purple-pink mixture which looked hauntingly like apple sauce, but oddly more dangerous.

Moment one was when the lid came off and the “fragrance” of this concoction hit us both. Moment two was when my son uttered the fateful words: “It looks like Slump!” You don’t have to have seen this to imagine it. Purple apple sauce which kind of tries to remain standing where you poured it but it fails, kind of in rings or ripples of failure that spread out from the centre. I might just as well have poured it onto a plate.

By now the next move was painfully obvious: I had to ingest this stuff. I say “ingest” because it wasn’t clear if I should eat it or drink it. Nor was it clear whether the stuff was actually edible, considering what had gone into the blender.

Well, I decided to dive in and go for it. With my attentive audience now fully waiting for the inevitable, I threw caution to the wind, grabbed the glass (which made an ominous milk-shakey kind of “toonk” sound), and chugged back a mouthful of the stuff.

There really are no words for what I experienced. Even with a severe head cold, I can say that I certainly tasted some health-imbuing flavors. I think I tasted fire. And maybe gasoline. Even a ten-year-old can be impressed by a parent from time to time, as in, “No way, Dad – you didn’t really DO that!” That one mouthful was the only one I could manage, and the experience got chalked up to “Too terrible to ever do again.”

But my curiosity did nag at me. Why did this guy put such a gut-wrenching and repulsive recipe into a book and why did the publisher let it stay in there? So, I had to re-read that part of the book. And that’s when I spotted the word “juicer.” It would have gone better for me had I read this later, after my audience had left the room but, no, I had to mutter the word out loud. These ingredients were supposed to be JUICED in a juicer, not BLENDED in a blender. I know what you’re thinking. . . honest mistake. Okay, you were really thinking, “idiot” which I have to confess probably fits. Not the first time, not the last time on that.

Sometimes, you just have to laugh at yourself. If you’re dumb enough to do these kinds of things with your kids watching, there is nowhere to hide. I have never had the courage to try the recipe again (even in a JUICER, which I now have). I Just can’t get past the mental image of that purple stuff slumped there menacingly in the glass.

Taunting me.

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