I against I: the Chronology Olympics

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Today’s workout:

Max Effort Bench Press. From pins, with bands.

Repetition Lift: DB Chest Press/Dive Bomber Pushups.

Brutal Recess: Club and Carry Combo. Looks like this:


I against I: The Chronology Olympics

Representing 39 years of Age… Chip Conrad! Age 39, Sacramento, CA, USA!
Representing 9 years of Age… Chip Conrad! Age 9, Honolulu, HI, USA!
And Representing 19 years of age… Chip Conrad! Age 19, Auburn, CA, USA!

They’re younger, kinda dumb and much less cool than I remember, but we all face each other prepared to compete in a multi-sport event. The premise of these games is simple:

Am I stronger now than I was when I was a kid?

If we grow, if we ‘mature’ (stop giggling), if we wise up as we age, shouldn’t we also be more physically capable? The chronological topo map is commonly advertised as a statistical half tear drop, tipped on it’s side like a beached sperm whale, where we’re supposed to be as feeble towards the end as we are delicate in the beginning, and the peak of our abilities is closer towards the ‘in’ door than the ‘out’ door.


Ya buy that?

The Chronological Olympics is worth attending every handful of years, if anything to prove this curve wrong. I pit myself against Me-at-9-years-old, who I know I’ll be my main competition. All too often my ears ring with the cliche of “in high school I benched 400” or “In college I cleaned 400” or “in vocational school I wrestled gators” so I decided to also throw Me-at-19 in the fray to see if I hold onto any ridiculous claims that mean nothing now. My personal relationship with the iron didn’t start with any vigor until I was in my twenties, so Me-at-19 will probably get his ass whipped (as I know Me-at-29 would, really throwing that curve off)… but the point can still be made. If you threw You-at-19 into the challenge and You-at-19 whooped your You-today’s ass, them’s ain’t braggin’ rights. You best ask yourself where you went wrong.

(yeah, ya deadlifted 550 in college…. where’s that kid now?)

Let’s take a look at the contested events…

Cartwheels. How well can the contestants cover 100 feet doing cartwheels? A playful, yet challenging, bodyweight movement that many of us as kids could do, but have we lost that skill?

Squat. Max squat. Simple, yet very biased against the Me-at-9. So what? Okay, fine, we’ll use a relative-to-bodyweight formula.

Handstand. How long? For fairness sake, I’ll let the Me-at-9 do a headstand, since relative upper body strength could be too big a discrepancy to make this remotely fair.

Tree Climb. What is the highest point of elevation the contestants can get on a chosen tree. In this case, the mango tree in Mr. Kagawa’s side yard that served as a far superior jungle gym than anything that my folks could have bought me (and it is still there today!).

Roof Jump. When I was 9, I climbed my garage and jumped off the roof with some regularity. Was I $%#@ crazy?

Bike Race. 30 miles on a single gear bike. How fast? (Tricks optional)



Cartwheels: Basically a 3 way tie for gold. No problem for all the contestants, but Me-at-19 experienced a bit more dizziness than the other 2.

Squats: This one was a joke. The first time I actually squatted with weight in my life was when I was about 22, and it wasn’t much more than 75 pounds (at 130 pound body weight after a big meal), if I remember correctly. No contest. A solid victory for Me-at-39.

Handstand: I’d like to say this one was close, but Me-at-9 took it pretty boldly, and he waved off the ‘headstand’ option with a laugh. Upside down work seemed to be my thing at that age… hanging, standing on my head (or hands), swinging, whatever. Me-at-19 did alright, but Me-at-39 took silver, and added some handstand pushups, which neither of the others could do.

Tree Climb: Me-at-19’s first gold medal. This one was close, very close, but the results were 19, 39, 9, who took the bronze only because he hadn’t the arm length to get higher.

Roof Jump: A tie between 9 and 39. In fact, next time I visit home, I’m hopping off that roof with glee!

Bike Race: Here’s the scoop…

On the day of my 9th b-day, my BFFWWTWBFBWOA6Y (best friend for what we thought would be forever but was only about 6 years) Matthew and I decided to spend my birthday money on Hotwheels. But we exhausted all the local tiny car brokers weeks ago (the neighborhood Woolworths only had so many). We demanded a bigger selection, and that would have to come from what was one of the top 5 largest malls in the world (in 1979), Ala Moana Shopping Center.


Mathew and I, to test out my new 9 year old wisdom and responsibility, decided to ride to Ala Moana, relieve ourselves of spare cash in return for a fine collection of mini-autos, then ride home, a round trip of almost 30 miles No small feat for 2 kids on BMX bikes. Now making an estimate of the trip time line is tough, since the shopping part had to have taken up a hefty chunk of the clock. But we did finish the trip in about 5 hours, with backpacks full of shiny new soon-to-be-broken trophies.


The Me-at-19 can’t compete with that, but Me-at-39 better to be able to dust that, even with lunch at Zippy’s, a quick dip in the ocean and about an hour buying used CD’s at Jelly’s (right across the street from Ala Moana, if it is still there). Maybe I should actually try this next time I’m on the Island.

[quick aside: perhaps you’re wondering what the heck my parents were thinking letting me embark on a journey like that? Well, fears aside, upon my return there was a nice sparkly orange drum set being put together by my instructor Harold Chang awaiting me in my bedroom. My first drum set trumped the stupid Hotwheels for what turned into about 30 years.]drum.jpg

So am I stronger (more able) now? Yes, but not hands down (and the French judge favored the youngest me for style). My results are now public… how about yours? The game is easy. Pick 5-6 events, pick 2 other Yous from days past and see what the results would be if you honestly applied yourself.

Looking forward to the 10-year anniversary of these games!



News and Events:

To start October’s workshops off, we’ll be having a special guest. Barefoot Ted will be speaking from 10-noon about his running adventures and his famous promotion of running sans fat padded shoes. This will be a thrill, and only $30.

The following week will be the return of a long-time friend of Bodytribe and our favorite wacky nutritionist, Bronwyn Schweigerdt to discuss real eating, not fad eating, healthy eating, not restrictive eating. September 10 from 10-noon. $10 for members, $20 for non-members.



Our fearless intern Terri wants to create a Bodytribe night for a special event. The guys who brought you Mystery Science Theater 3000 have a new project that is hitting theaters for one day only. Here’s the details from their website:

“Who knew that the worst movie ever made would be so popular! The original evening of live riffing captured on August 20th will be rebroadcast to movie theaters nationwide for one night only. Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot), now of RiffTrax.com, are even better on the big screen!

This encore event will feature the new short, Flying Stewardess, and non-stop hilarious riffing on a COLOR version of “Plan 9 from Outer Space”- a 1959 science fiction/horror film written, produced and directed by Edward D. Wood Jr. Don’t miss your last chance for an exciting evening of riffing, zombies, aliens, cheesy performances, wisecracks, laughable special effects and more!

RiffTrax: Plan 9 from Outer Space on Thursday, October 8th at 7:30PM at the Downtown Mall movie theater. Tickets on Fathom.com are $10. or you can buy your ticket at the theater the night of.

Bodytribe in Milwaukee.

A weekend of workshops sponsored by Second Nature Fitness in Milwaukee. Check out their website for details


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Showing 6 comments
  • Tyler

    I’m proud to say that me at (soon to be 29) can crush previous me’s at just about every event (except for, perhaps, knee flexibility).

    1. 40 yard dash: even accounting for the short legs of a 9 year old, 29 year old me could dust 19 & 9. In fact, 19 would probably puke.

    2. ANY M.E. lift: 19 year old me would have a big head, with all the “heavy lifting” I was doing to get huge, but I couldn’t even squat, deadlift or clean because of posterior chain weakness. Sorry, 9 year old Tyler.

    3. Tree climb: I couldn’t even climb trees when I was a kid. It was humiliating. Same at 19 – all that lifting gave me jack squat. I’ll climb the shit out of some trees now. Give me a bare light post, and I’ll climb that fucker too.

    4. Rock throwing: OK, so I couldn’t run or climb for shit when I was 9, but I sure threw a lot of rocks – even some pretty big ones. Accounting for relative weight…I think it would be a close call between 9 and 29, but my memory might be a bit off.

    5. Cool haircut: I feel kind of bad about 19 year old Tyler, because he didn’t stand a chance in any of the other events. I had a great haircut, though – a 12inch tall mohawk with dyed tips. It was cool. 9 year old me had some lame kid haircut. I’m pretty cool now, maybe silver to 29 year old me, yay.

    Watch out 39 year old me, you’re gonna have to be pretty bad ass to compete.

    And come to our workshop in Milwaukee! There will be fun times, jokes, and maybe you might even learn something. Probably not, but it’s possible. I can teach you about having a sweet mohawk.

  • Chris in Arcata

    My sister just ran her first half marathon at age 40. First time I think she has done any running event. I was awfully proud of her………

    I remember in my 20’s when I worked out on trail crews in the mountains. We moved rocks that were multiple tons, and spend the day doing it. Or moving smaller rocks rolling them to just the right spot to build a retaining wall, or whatever. I actually thought I was in pretty good shape back then. Boy have I proved myself wrong in recent years. I don’t think it was till I stopped smoking that stuff which was green in color. Then things really started to take off. Probably a year, or two after that found kettle bells. Then found body tribe. I agree I am stronger now at 34 then when I was 20, and playing ice hockey while smoking on the bench. Well not really, but you know what I mean. I think I really found myself with the kettle bell, and then body tribe brightened the door even more. Funny wish I had found this part of me years ago. If only……how could I have applied that. Definitely want to prove the whale chart wrong. I better still be backpacking steep mountain hills at 60 + in age. Anyway thanks for all the encouragement from downtown Sac……

  • Craig in Seattle

    Due to recurring injuries my ME strength is blown compared to when I was 32…I certainly can’t run 30 miles in the mountain like I could at 36…but the older me kicks young me’s ass at all but tre clibming. I learned to skateboard at 38- I was much too woried when I was a kid to do that! At 43 I am in much better shape from a GPP standpoint.

  • Andy

    Ages: 29, 19, 9
    Events: Bicycle tricks, pushups, running, max-effort lifting, handstands

    1: Bicycle tricks: Definitely the 29-year-old me, followed by me at 9, then age 19. I was an avid neighborhood BMX curb jumper at nine, but had very little confidence thanks to being told I had a motor skills problem that made me less-coordinated than other kids. At 19, I essentially did four activities: I drank, I smoked pot, I worked and when the aforementioned three didn’t have me too busy, I played a little music. There wasn’t much room for physical activity, aside from the annual barely-passing Army Reserve physical fitness test. At 29, it’s been a couple of years since I was really active in the sport, but I’ve discovered that a 270-lb frame doesn’t disqualify me from riding a decent wheelie, negotiating boardwalks and seesaws and landing some respectable 4-foot arials, not to mention the ability to ride down stairs.

    2: Pushups: Among the three age groups, the 29-year-old me wins, followed by 19 (I was lazy, but had some residual strength from high school sports) and finally the timid 9-year-old. But if 23-year-old me showed up, he would kick my 29-year-old ass, knocking out 100+ pushups in a single set (I can manage 60-75 without resting on my knees).

    3: Running: I hate to admit it, but the 19-year-old me would win this one. I don’t run at all these days, unless I’m playing around with kids or late to something. Again, 9-year-old Andy is sitting by himself, crying because the other kids picked on him at lunch and he got in trouble for punching them.

    4: Max effort lifting: 29-year-old me, hands down, no contest. But pound-for-pound, 9-year-old me was a pretty strong bencher (could press my approximately 100-lb bodyweight at that age), and at 19 and 235 lbs of Doritos, beef jerky and Old English 800, I could manage about the same, pound-for-pound, so I’d say it’s a tie between the two.

    5: Handstands: Tie, between 19-year-old me and 29-year-old me. But at 29, I have a lot more weight to lug around, so I looked cooler. Me at nine held a handstand for two seconds, then fell on an anthill.

  • Gubernatrix

    I sound a bit like Andy. Is that a good thing?

    Not much point me doing this game since the current 34 year old me would sweep the board in everything, from strength to speed to bodyweight movements! I was quite sporty and tomboyish as a little kid – but that hasn’t changed, except I’m now bigger and more powerful.

    The ‘lost years’ were from about 17 to 23. I played no sports as I was too busy trying to be the next Peter Brook and taking a variety of drugs.

    The contest between me at 39 and me at 29, however, will be an interesting one. But we’ll have to wait for the next chronology olympiad for that excitement.

    With regard to the emerging theme here (i.e. all our older selves kick ass) I’m not sure whether I particularly regret the lost years. They are a part of who I am today and perhaps a misspent (if you want to call it that) youth drives you to better health and strength in later life. You know what they say, ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

  • chip

    I concur about the younger years, although i wish I did pick up a weight once in a while during college. Instead I was busy pretending to be an intellectual, which meant I was just a know-it-all dumbass.

    And that was actually a fun place to be.

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