Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Remember that kid in grade school who was always picked last for teams in gym class?  That wasn't me.  I was the other kid.  You know, there are two kids left and one is picked last for a team and the other goes to the second team by default?  And then the team groans because they're stuck with that loser?  Yeah, that was me, By-Default-Girl.  I was a lousy athlete, I freely admit it.  I sucked at catching and throwing and kicking.  I had no arm strength and no aim and was completely uncoordinated.  I was also the fat kid, a double whammy.  I still feel intense resentment over that damn rope they tried to make us climb.  Combine lack of strength and coordination with an over-sized body and you can imagine that little bit of humiliation.

I mention all this because I'm doing the 10K at Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon this weekend.  No, I'm not running it.  I'm simply walking, but hopefully at a fast enough pace that I finish just ahead of the last place finishers, probably a group from the local elder care center slowed down by their canes.  My husband asks why I don't jog part of it.  I do jog in short bursts on the treadmill, little one-lap intervals between various walking paces.  The problem is I steadfastly refuse to run in public.  This meme came through as a Tweet from a member of my virtual running group and sums it up perfectly:

The Vulcan assures me I do not look like that.  I'm convinced I do.  I once saw slow motion video of a basset hound running, jowls flapping and flab undulating and I just know that's what I'd look like if I broke into a trot.  And since there may very well be news cameras in the vicinity, I'm not taking any chances.  Just finishing will be enough.  Well, let's say finishing and not being dead last.

My mommy was very proud.
I did the Flying Pig's 5K last year and I still marvel at it.  Not because I had some earth-shattering pace, but just because I did it.  Me.  By-Default-Girl.  In an organized athletic event.  If you had told that rotund kid in phys ed that some day she'd walk 3.1 miles and get a medal for it she would have thought you were nuttier than the ice cream Drumstick she had every day at lunch.  And if you'd said the next year she was going to walk 6.2 miles?  Forget about it.

 To motivate me to walk 25 miles or so on the treadmill every week, I joined the Earthathon.  It's a virtual relay race in which ten teams are running the circumference of the earth.  As a group we are going to put in the mileage equivalent to circling the earth ten times, roughly 250,000.  It's only slightly competitive.  When the first team finishes running the circumference, those members then will help another team reach that milestone and so on until there's one big team finishing the last lap.  When I signed up I said to put me on whichever team needed me.  I could have been on a team like Legs of Passion or Stars on the Run.  My team?  United Snails.  At first I was slightly bummed.  Not exactly a name to inspire.  Then I got to know my teammates through Twitter and they turned out to be so enthusiastic and supportive and fun that I realized I was on the PERFECT team for me.  And, let's face it, the name totally fits.  I embraced my inner snail.  I found a piece of clip art (here) and made it my own personal logo.  I had my sister put it on a shirt for me.  Last week I got out the Shrinky Dinks and made myself a necklace and a charm for one of the 5,017 Rainbow Loom bracelets my daughter made me and a tiny snail for my gym shoe.  Call it snail mania, but for my birthday I got a little silver snail pendant and I bought myself a stuffed snail to put on the shelf over my treadmill.  And I may have a Littlest Pet Shop snail on my desk.  Maybe...

So, at age 45 am I an athlete?  Not even close.  I still can't throw a ball (or catch one).  I'm totally uncoordinated and fall down regularly.  In the summertime I do little in the pool but tread water and the best I can manage on a bike is to stay upright.  Having said all that I can also say that, at age 45, I'm in the best shape of my life.  That's not saying much.  I've always been overweight and out of shape and compared to a real runner, I'm a pathetic mess.  But compared to the me of the past, By-Default-Girl, I'm at the top of my game.  I can't help but feel slightly proud of that, even if my children do tell me I'm past my expiration date.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally impressed with your progress.