Lesson Learned

One should never volunteer to play in a rugby game – no matter the ease of the competitive level – in sweltering heat and humidity, with a hangover, dehydration and a still very-congested head cold which affects your ability to breath normally in even perfect situations.

I should’ve known better, but somehow I thought I’d be okay. Until I started running. And then nearly coughed up a lung after I ran in a try. Then nearly vomited on my prop in a scrum. Seriously …

I have never wanted to stop playing so much as I did Saturday. Of course, 30 minutes later I started to feel better … I must’ve sweated out the hangover.

Friday night, I drove down to Chicago with my boyfriend Big T to attend his college team’s alumni weekend at the University of Illinois-Chicago. We drove straight to one of his old college bar hangouts, where I met a few of his old teammates and enjoyed a few cold beers and a particularly potent Red Bull and Vodka. Maybe it was the head cold, perhaps my cold medicine had not worn off entirely, but by the end of the night, I was a tad tipsy. Big T said “Hey … you got drunk last night” with a big smirk.

Woke up to not feeling so awesome and a delicious, but greasy breakfast from his buddy of hasbrowns, eggs and sausage. Definitely not my normal game-day meal of gatorade, oatmeal or a powerbar. The apartment was nice and cool, I even tied a sweatshirt on before we left since we all assumed the cloudy skies outside meant a cool day. We opened the door to walk outside and were hit by a wave of heat and humidity. I was sweating before we even got in the car.

At the field, I just kept chugging juice and water, while watching the men’s game. Big T scored a nice little try. The women’s game would be the UIC college side versus the new Chicago Sirens, a senior D-II team of some UIC alums. I would be playing for the Sirens. Warm-ups felt okay and I thought I was feeling better.

But, nope, soon as the first kickoff game, I was doomed. DOOMED. Thank god, it was an alumni game of people I hardly knew. I got in some of the action when I could, but I was a pitiful excuse for a D-I senior player. I ran in one try on the short field and had to step off the field to use my inhaler, down on my knees hoping I wouldn’t throw up as my boyfriend laughed at me.

The rest of the game was a wash. The alumni were older and more aggressive (as we “old ladies” tend to be), and Teena from North Shore was also playing, in addition to an alum nicknamed Trackie (?) who both blazed in some tries to run up the score. By the end, the sir was helping call in favor of the college girls so they could score a few tries. Finally the whistle blew, and I meekly walked off the field to collapse by my bags.

Seriously … I kept apologizing to anyone who told me I played well. Were they blind? A few asked me if I was injured … yes, but just my pride. And my liver. I would mumble that I had a bit of hangover and that normally I’m actually in the plays and rucks, not standing there in a daze hands on my knees gasping.

So … hopefully, next year, I can redeem myself. And all the more reason to get rid of this cold and get running.

Next time … I’ll say no to the extra drinks. This 29-year-old can’t bounce back from a night of socializing like she used to. Oy.

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