I was never an athlete. Not in elementary school. Not in middle school, and certainly not in high school where I actually earned my only “D”—in gym class. And when I say “earned,” I mean earned. I mean, you really have to work hard to get a “D” in gym. It’s not like any idiot can do it. I fondly recall skipping out on gym to do fun stuff like drive with my other hip friends to McDonald’s in my little fluorescent orange austin america to flip french fries on the hood and watch the birds gobble them up.
Does it get any better than that?
Yet I read about many of you who, after lounging through your 20s, 30s and 40s decide to “get back into” sports. Some of you were serious high school or college athletes (you know who you are!). And I get jealous. And think to myself, self? What were you doing all that time?!
I get jealous because, well, I’m shallow. Plus, I think: “Oh well sure, it’s easy to get back INTO something after a 20-year-hiatus” or “I wish I had a base like that to build on.” (Yes, I seriously think like this.)
Well, I can partially—OK, largely—blame the culture and the decades in which I came of age for my lack of athleticism. I went to elementary school in the 60s, where sports for girls were nonexistent (unless you count dodgeball, an activity which has now been banned at many schools for being harmful to children’s self-esteem—see this blog, exhibit A); an inner city middle school during the height of forced busing (sports took a back seat to daily chaos); and an all-girls Catholic high school in the 70s. My high school—Sacred Heart Academy—had great basketball and volleyball teams, and I should have been a shoo-in for either due to my height (5’9″) but I was too cool for sports. I was so in I was out.
I worked three jobs to get through college (yes in the snow), but even if I hadn’t I don’t think sports would have been on my agenda, though I do remember seeing the girls’ crew team recruiting and thinking that would be fun. (I was obviously clueless.)
In my 20s and 30s I always tried to exercise but it was half-hearted and I would never have dreamed of calling myself an athlete.
Do I have a point?
Hang on, I’m getting there!
This little reminiscence wrote itself as I listened to the latest episode of my favorite podcast, Phedippidations, episode #105, “Running Over 50.” And as I listened (which if you are over or even near 50 you should definitely check it out, and whatever age you should subscribe because this is a seriously great podcast), I had a little epiphany and it went like this: that THESE are my glory days, right now, right here—that they’re still before me, not behind me.
All thanks to being a slacker in high school!
I have things to look forward to! Running things! Sports things! And no matter how crappy I’m running right now, I know that I’m building toward something, I’m working toward something. It might not come today (uh, definitely not today), or tomorrow (got that right), or even a year from now.
See? With age comes wisdom.
I suppose it’s possible I could quit this whole running thing, as I have threatened to many times, but I don’t think I will. I mean, I hate the actual running part as my loyal readers well know, but the other parts? Like the blogging part? And the racing part? And the people I’ve met part? And the “afterglow” part? These are what I think the (psychiatric) literature calls the “secondary rewards” of an activity. I like these things and I don’t want to give them up.
So, in celebration of my glory days, I have started afresh with another running program, the D.C Road Runners Ten Mile Program, led by this guy, culminating in this race in October.
And even though I tried to run six miles on Sunday and it felt like oh, six million, take it from me: there is glory in the trying.
You can read more of Jeanne’s blog at: http://runmomrun.blogspot.com/