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Happy 50th Mike Pigg

December 18th, 2013


Photo by: Rich Cruse
Photo by: Rich Cruse
Pigg and Me racing
Pigg and Me racing

I had the good fortune to train and race beside a few people whose dedication to their craft and work ethic were (and still are) second to none.  It goes without saying, that these attributes featured in their palmares. 

Thanks to Facebook, I’m reminded that today is the 50th birthday of one of my primary rivals, friends, and training partners - Mike Pigg.

Mike and I spent a few winters, training together in Tucson.  When we weren’t trying to pummel each other in the pool or on the roads and trails, we endlessly discussed (debated) training and nutrition strategies.  As it turns out, and what none of us liked to admit - Mike was often ahead of his time with regard to diet, nutrition, and training methods.

The main reason that we didn’t like to admit that he was ahead of his time was that it didn’t really matter what Pigg ate or how he trained. Mike Pigg was simply a winning machine - one of the best triathletes ever.

Anyway - here’s but one of my many fond Pigg memories.

Once - at the top of a 12 mile climb, half way through a HARD 120 mile bike ride, Mike and I debated what we would purchase at a convenience store if we were suffering from the worst bonk ever known to man and we only had a single dollar to spend. Keep in mind that a GW bought a lot more in the early/mid 90s than it buys now.

Pigg, sold on the virtues of a high-fat diet and therefore forced to stifle his insatiable, legendary, actually, lust for sweet foods - decided on a simple solution. With his dollar, he’d purchase a quart of whole milk. I remember asking him, “White or chocolate?” He told me white, because the sugar in chocolate milk was bad and caused his calfs to cramp.  I wanted to remind him that his calfs did not cramp while he was kicking my butt around the running track a couple mornings ago (eight hours after polishing off an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey) - but I let it go. Instead, I just told him that his milk strategy was ridiculous and a waste of a dollar, and that when he called me, stranded in the middle of nowhere - delirious and craving cotton candy, that I would refuse to drive and pick him up.

Having grown up obsessively watching The Price Is Right, my strategy was a little more complex. With my dollar, I’d purchase two cans of coke. With the change, I would buy a handful of the single pieces of candy for sale at the counter (sugar was cheap back then, too).  Mike told me that my sugar strategy was ridiculous, that I would re-bonk minutes after ingesting the massive amount of sugar, and that he hoped I enjoyed consuming “dead” food.

Like usual - I felt good about my side of the debate.  And like usual - I expected to be “wrong.”

As fate would have it, forty cold and windy miles later, we had cause to test our strategies.

We staggered (literally) into a convenience store, twenty long miles from home, with zero left in the gas tank and an agreement to spend but a single dollar.

With his dollar, Pigg purchased a quart of white milk and chugged it in about nine seconds (he was very fast at eating and drinking, too).

With my dollar, I bought my two cans of coke and assorted small candies, drank one coke and then put the spare coke in my center jersey pocket, and scattered the candies in my outer jersey pockets.

Five miles later, Pigg was running on fumes, incessantly hocking up giant flemmy loogies, and sitting on my wheel (which RARELY happened). One minute after that I heard him ask, “Are you going to drink that coke, or just carry it around?” Having spent the better part of five winters getting my ass kicked by Pigg, I seized the moment and replied, “Yes, I’m going to drink it - eventually.” I then proceeded to dial up the effort (this was before power meters) to race pace level.

He asked about the coke in the center pocket of my cycling jersey, a few more times over the next 10 miles. I ignored his requests while dramatically popping sweet chocolate morsels every two to five minutes.

By the time we hit the outskirts of town, Pigg had offered to pay me $5 dollars for the can of coke. I believe we settled on $6. He chugged the coke in about five seconds, and said that after drinking the coke, he felt the best he’d every felt in his entire life.

Two months later we finished first and second in St. Croix. In each of our water bottles were four packets of sugar and two packets of salt, taken from the breakfast restaurant.

I like to think that on that day of suffering, I re-sold him on the virtues of sugar during a hard ride/race.  I won the battle but he won the war.

And now my friend turns 50 - three months before me.

Once again - I’m second to Mike Pigg, one of the hardest working athletes triathlon has ever seen. And just like way back then - I don’t mind so much.

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