I would like to begin with a Brief History of My Athleticism. It is a many varied story, with twist and turns and failure and triumph; however, and if they made a movie out of it, it would be nothing like Bend It Like Beckham, and not because of the obvious.
Let’s begin by sport:
In third grade, I absolutely killed at soccer. I wore shorts to school every day with a proud ADIDAS on the bottoms, and stashed my lip gloss in my training bra, which soccer allowed me to refer to as a “sports bra” for anyone curious. At recess, I was the only girl who was allowed to play with all the boys once they learned I made a fantastic goalie and didn’t cry when I got hit in the face. (I did. Just in private in my fort ten minutes later. It seriously hurts to take a soccer ball to the face.) I was going to try out for the fabled Phantoms team, the best private team you could be on as a kid, because their jackets were kick ass: blue, red, white (patriotic) with a PHANTOM playing SOCCER on the back (supernatural meets sporty).
This brief stardom as New Hampshire’s premier girl goalie ended before it began because my mom realized she didn’t own a minivan and didn’t want to shuttle me to practice constantly.
GRADE: A+ for effort, F for ultimate failure.
Who knows why I took up field hockey in eighth grade (probably my first interest in butts, which I’ll get to later), but I bought a stick and wore a kilt and unlike every other foray into sports in gym thus far, in which I was often taken out due to complete ineptness, I succeeded. I was shooting at nets and dribbling around ankles and trotting to corners and the whole thing. I loved team sports for a few, brief months.
Then I skipped a year due to a paralyzing fear of high school, and went back to it sophomore year only to find I had gone through the final agonizing push of puberty. Also I popped my hip out.
My mother is a yoga teacher. She’s strong, lean, capable. Why not me too? This worked very well for awhile; I’d leave each Ashtanga class junior year of high school relaxed, feeling centered and strong. Then I just…stopped.
The Andersons have a running joke about their insistence to avoid everything that makes them healthy, happy, and not addicted to something. Why not me too?
I ran cross country in fifth grade because my Uncle Bob and my father had both been fantastic runners. (WHY NOT ME TOO.) I wore black socks to practice, and each meet my coaches would gently tell my mother that sometimes the slowest runners, with the hardest work, could become like all the other kids too. Unlike those other suckers, however, I am a creature of habit.
This began my career as a runner going the approximate speed of a grandmother riding a tortoise. However, this has been the one sport that has stuck. as I struggle through each excruciatingly slow and embarrassingly sweaty run ending in tomato-face, I wonder: why on earth am I still doing this? Why does anyone who sucks so bad at something still do it? Why?
Because I want an ass, that’s why.
And so, in one of my first and potentially biggest attempts to do something scary, I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon. It’s fucking expensive. Like I could’ve adopted a fully spayed or neutered kitten who’s up-to-date with their shots instead of signing up for this. But what’s scarier than running a race that killed the first runner to complete it on the spot?