When I was younger, I played every sport imaginable – for one season each. I’ve dabbled in softball (can’t hit or catch to save my life); basketball (shot at the wrong hoop); soccer (no coordination. also: boring); tennis (not sure why I didn’t continue); gymnastics (gun found at boys & girls club = lessons cancelled); and many others I can’t even think of now. Nothing stuck – or, I got bored easily.
When I was in 5th grade, my mom signed me up for a summer running workshop at a local park. The workshop was geared toward kinds 12 and under, led by the coaches of the (nationally ranked) local high school cross country team. It was also 3 minutes away and required no gear. A few of my friends were doing it, too, so I went along with it (even though I’m sure I was not very excited).
The workshop wasn’t anything big – I remember we played a lot of frisbee golf, did a lot of stretches (this is where I learned to hold your ear for balance when doing a standing quad stretch), and butt kicks, etc. It wasn’t anything serious, but instilled in kids the need/want to exercise a few times a week.
So when 7th grade came and I could finally sign up for school sports, I somehow ended up on the JV cross country team. I remember the first day of “practice” well – I ran a few miles with a few other beginning runners in the rain, came home extremely sore, and sat in a hot bath for appx. 2 days.
The rest of the practices were much more fun. “Practices” were held in the state park, with miles of challenging trails to explore and fun times with the team. On really hot and humid days (which always seemed to coincide with our free run days – basically run all over for 2 hours) – we’d rebel and jump in the streams and tidepools around the park to cool off and splash around. Also note – we were about 30 junior and high school girls running around in skimpy shorts and sports bras only. We would also run around the town like this. Normal.
I didn’t do well in cross country. I mean, I wasn’t bad. My average mile was about 6:50 (still crazy to me). But distance wasn’t for me. For winter I transitioned to sprinting in indoor track, and then did regular outdoor track in the spring (note: indoor track was more outdoors that indoors).
I was plagued with injuries in track. Whether it was the surface we trained on, incorrect technique, or the wrong shoes – something wasn’t right. I had knee surgery in 9th grade, tried to take up track again in 10th grade, and then was done with it. I “transferred” to theater and basically stopped running all together.
I also got fat.
To be continued…