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Saturday, June 6, 2009

a little background

For those of you who don't know, I did not grow up an athletic child, a close reflection of my non-athletic family. I was more like a chubby, Guiding Light-after-school-watching kid who got involved in softball at age 10 because the hot dogs were too good to pass up (they had those toasted, buttered rolls. I mean, c'mon!) I was the kid who was literally out in left daydreaming, watching the game going on in some other galaxy. Then, every now and then, when it would come my way, I would hold up my glove and duck, eyes closed, praying it would land in safely. You know those candy bars that kids used to sell to make money for school? I remember OWING $20 to myself at one point in time because I had eaten so many caramellos. A buck a bar... you do the math. ( I daresay I even won some incentive prize for top sales.)

So I left childhood physically unfit, unable to throw a ball even like "a girl," more bookworm than outdoorsy kid, with zero knowledge of organized sports and an embarrassingly low cardiovascular threshold. I didn't even know how to make a paper airplane or fly a kite.

Somewhere along the way this started to change. In high school I began to hike, I slimmed down, I rode my bike, I joined a beginner ballet class (which I quit after a month because everyone else was 6 years old), I took up cross country (even though my only goal ever was just to run the entire race- they called me the energizer bunny because I just kept going. I swear people passed me walking), I learned to rock climb, sail, horseback ride and I even was on the gymnastics team my senior year. I fell in love with the outside and began to think of nature as my solace; a mountaintop became the place I longed to be.

In young adulthood, I became more serious about hiking and began doing some backpacking, too. I've climbed Mount Katahdin twice, Mt. Washington once and have completed three race-walking marathons. I love distance biking, pilates and yoga and I have been an avid exerciser for the past 10 years. And, of course, I recently gave birth to the runner hiding inside myself.

And yet, today, when I was unlocking my bike after yoga class to pedal home, a friend said to me, "Oh, Suzanne, you're so athletic. You're always running or biking or hiking or doing something."

I felt like turning my head to see if there was another Suzanne standing behind me. I wanted to point at my chest and say, "Excuse me, are you talking about me?"

I guess, even though I have been "athletic" for far longer than I was a couch potato, I still haven't given up that image of myself. Maybe because I still feel so ignorant in the world of organized sports, I still think that "athlete" and "Suzanne" don't belong in the same sentence. Yet the truth is, I can peek in on a baseball game and have a good idea of what is happening just by looking at the screen and not having anyone translate now.

We drove by a tennis court the other day and Sandi said it looked like fun. "I think I would like to learn how to play tennis," I said. At least I think it was me who said it.

1 comment:

Emilie said...

funny, i never knew you as a non-active, athletic woman. and people, i can attest to her cut muscles... i saw her in a bathing suit today.

and i hope i'm not having the totally wrong reaction to this post when i tell you that I am REALLY laughing hard about you winning a prize for eating all of your own chocolate bars. it is just so damn cute. love you!

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