Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tri Me

Speaking of personal challenges - oh, sorry, were we not? We are now - I'm thinking about upping the ante, active-wise.

I was not what you would consider "sporty" in high school. Gym class was an unkind period for most teenagers, and I am not unique in feeling that the combination of unflattering shorts + sweaty faces + having desperate crushes on fully half the guys I went to high school with = a mini-heart attack every time we had to assemble for 50 minutes of self-conscious exertion. I was also what might be considered round, although it is hard to judge. Skinny fifteen-year-old girls are a totally different species from thin adult women: they are skinny in that "I just had a growth spurt" kind of way, not that "I spent a lot of time on my core" sort of way. Since I haven't had a growth spurt since the sixth grade, I never got to be a skinny fifteen year old girl. And yes, parts of me still resent that.

So I never played on the baseketball team or the lacrosse squad (although I was in Reach For The Top with my friend Jess, where we both had to be trained out of answering the questions in the form of a question - thanks a lot, Jeopardy). I did enjoy badminton, but that was mostly because it's a deeply goofy sport. It's tough to really suck at badminton.

My unwillingness to participate in team sports starts back in kindergarten: I "played soccer" by lying in the grass and ignoring the encouraging shouts from the coach, my parents, other people's parents, and my teammates. I had fun.

Something happened in university, though. Maybe it was the forty (!) pounds I gained when I took a year off school. Maybe it was finding out that the gym isn't an evil place. Don't get me wrong: I hate working out. The sweaty grunts and intimidating Spadex ensembles aren't encouraging to your average Joe-Schmo (or Jane Schmane...I guess?). Plus, I have a hard time not staring at people. I know it's bad form: I like watching bodies. Is that a crime? I do it on the bus, too. Does that balance things out? (I know the answer is no, and that I am a creepy weirdo. Sigh.)

While the machines make me nervous and the rowing machine gives me hives, the gym also contains wonderful spaces like the squash courts. I love playing squash. It's one of the very few sports where obscenities are okay, where crashing into the wall sometimes happens as part of gameplay - not as a result of my oafish gracelessness - and goddamn do you ever sweat. It's also competitive without being a team sport. I hate feeling like I've let people down when I fluff team sports, but with the solo endeavours, the only person who screwed it up is me.

With a new sport in my back pocket, I started losing some of those forty (!) pounds. I'm no great shakes at squash, but it is fun and fast. Then I started biking. Which clearly, I love. I just got back from a bike trip to Guelph, which was fun in the "my vacation kicked my ass" sort of way. Who knew that Halton Hills was actually hilly? I thought it was one of those subdivision-type names, but I was wrong. Painfully wrong.

I've since lost most of those 40 (!) pounds, and converted most of the remaining Cheeto-fat into muscle. Now I want a new challenge. I was thinking about maybe training for a triathlon. Not your scary Ironman deal. Something friendlier. Something like a Sprint Triathlon, which seems way more manageable. I've always been fascinated with adventure-type sports. The Patagonia catalogue, with its 3%-body-fat rock climbers sprinkled over gorgeous vistas? Yeah, that's basically porno for me. It makes me want to do the Iditarod (what a fun word to say!), learn how to horseback ride, and go over Niagara Falls in a pickle barrel. Failing that, it makes me want to get really good at playing catch.

Running a marathon just sounds painful, but I think something like a triathlon would be fun. Maybe a duathlon, since I'm a little afraid of deep water. Or a biathlon, which is cross-country skiing and shooting (!), and is disappointing for not including some competitive girl-girl making out. I don't want to turn into one of those droning bores who talk about things like carbo-loading and electrolytes, but it would be nice to kick a little ass every now and again...especially if the ass in question is my own.

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