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The Tiger Balm Doesn’t Go There

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THE TIGER BALM DOESN’T GO THERE

If you played a sport in high school you probably learned a ritual to help you focus. I ran track and field. My first race was always the 1600 meters. My pre-race routine never varied. First, I stretch. Second, apply Tiger Balm liberally on my legs to help loosen the muscles and keep warm. Third, wash hands thoroughly. Next, evacuation. I didn’t like to feel the urge to go during a race. Finally, wash hands again and report for the race.

I remember this meet we were racing Crescent City and my arch rival Mike would be there. I had never beaten Mike. It always made me sick to my stomach to race him. He seemed to always have a little more left in the tank during the last 100 meters. Today Mike would be the least of my worries. The first lap was going well. Around the last turn though I noticed the wind was picking up. It was blowing in my face and I was getting cold. The backstretch of the second lap was better. Wind at my back pushing me faster. I was gaining confidence. Coming around the last turn I was colder than the first lap. I felt so icy. Now I knew something was wrong. You don’t get colder as the race goes on. You get warmer. But I felt so… icy. The third lap back stretch things began to drastically change. I started burning up First, I was icy. Now I’m hot. By the end of the third lap I realized that this was the most embarrassing moment of my life. Focusing on my nemesis Mike, I missed the most crucial part of my pre-race ritual. I missed step three. I went straight from Tiger Balm to evacuation. Guys know before a race you have to shake really to prevent leakage and adjust your parts for maximum comfort and discretion. Not only were my boys burning up they were growing up. Needless to say it was the hardest race I would ever run.

You can pull all kinds of lessons out of this story, but the one that sticks out the most is the simplest. The Tiger Balm doesn’t go there.

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