Sometimes I embellish upon the truth. When I say “I used to be an athlete,” it’s one of those times.
I should clarify. From 5th grade until 12th grade I played a school or municipal-sponsored sport of some kind…basketball, softball, field hockey, and javelin throwing in track. For a couple years in college I marched junior corps (P.S. more intense than any other sport I’ve ever played) and I also played rugby for a semester at JMU. A summer and a half of drum majoring at senior corps, bicycling and walking all across Philadelphia, and of course, dancing a couple times a week, has always kept me in, at the very least, passable physical condition. I generally feel somewhere between ambivalent to pleased when I glance at myself in a store window or a mirror.
Both of my parents have an athletic background and you’ll always hear me brag about what a badass hardball player my dad is. I learned how to throw and catch and shoot a free throw at an early age. Curiously, I could never quite execute a layup, nor could I get through a volley of tennis without hitting the stupid ball over the court’s fence. Despite these challenges to my hand-eye-coordination, I never really struggled to be at least decent in the sports I chose to participate in. That is….except for the being an athlete part.
I know I was a bit of a frustration to my dad. In high school, he’d tell me, “Em…if you could just sprint faster you could play softball at any college you wanted to attend!” I made up for it by hitting the ball farther. (If you and I were chatting in person right now, I’d interrupt my own story to say that I have never, ever beaten my dad at a sprinting race across our backyard. I haven’t tried since he’s been diagnosed with heart disease, but I digress). When I started playing field hockey in seventh grade, I was petrified and sweating every day before practice…we started the morning with a half-mile run, and if it wasn’t under a certain time (I think eight minutes?) we’d have to run it again after practice that day. Guess who usually ran a second time?
In gym class we completed the Presidential Fitness Challenge, and this damn thing always brought down my gym grade. Always, always, always. If you weren’t lucky enough subjected to this thing, it was basically a measurement of one’s fitness level by testing, measuring, and timing ten or so different modules. The fastest mile I ever ran was around 8:45, and let me tell you…I was jumping for joy when I first got it under 9 minutes (but I was still under the 60th percentile). I could never jump very far or very high, and I could never do the bent-arm hang (and forget about pull-ups). I feigned flexibility because I have a long torso and have no trouble reaching past my toes when stretching. I wasn’t terrible at the short wind sprints, but that is relative; it means that my ranking was around the 70th percentile.
Why am I blabbing about all this? I went for a run tonight. And by “run”, I mean I went for a jog/walk/jog/walk/jog/walk/jog/walk/jog/walk. It wasn’t fun. But…I want to keep at it. I’ve recently learned that there’s such a thing as a duathlon; a race with the format of run-bike-run. (I also don’t swim well, surprise surprise). I have no idea how I’ll feel tomorrow, but I must keep it up…running has always been my Achilles tendon and if I don’t make my attempt to conquer it now, I don’t know when I ever could.
If I find the courage to actually register for the duathlon, I will keep you all posted. And by “you all” I mean Judith and my mom. Seriously….anyone else reading? Show me some love so I know this isn’t completely all for nought?
Miss you, Pennsylvania. I was repping my boys during my walk/jog: