The Reuben

Once a year, the track team’s top runners venture down to Virginia to compete in the Captain’s Classic at Christopher Newport in Virginia. Junior year was the first time that I qualified to participate. I was the second leg of our 4 by 800 meter relay, and our coaches anticipated winning. I was the weakest of the four, and our chances of winning seemed to rest solely on my ability to prevent other teams from passing me.

The other runners in the squad had all been to Virginia before, and all had the routine down. The routine included eating lunch at Paul’s Deli before the race. Paul’s Deli served personal pizzas, subs, and sandwiches, the best for a pre-meet meal being pizza. The other three all ordered and recommended what they thought to be the best pizza to me, but something else had caught my eye. Paul’s Saturday Special, a double-decker Reuben overflowing with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and finished off with a healthy layer sauerkraut. Our coaches had warned us about the dreaded “energy zapper” and this sandwich embodied all that was energy zapping. Boasting an inordinate quantity of protein and salt, this Reuben had all the necessary components to demolish any chance of a good performance. I had to eat it.

Not the Reuben in question, this one is different.
To my teammates, I was jeopardizing the mission. I had betrayed them by choosing a meal over a medal and throwing away the taste of victory in favor of the taste of a sandwich. The general consensus was that I would see the Reuben again, and that was unforgivable.

Coming into the final stretch of my half-mile, I had successfully held onto our lead and held down my lunch. I handed off the baton in a time lower than I had ever run before. The Reuben had served me well, and boy was I an ass about it.

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