This week’s column for the Western Itasca Review.
August 1st, 2012
Quietly Contrary: Hit the Road
By Mary Eileen Finch
I’ve never been what one would refer to as “sporty”, unless marathon reading counts. I’d climb into my top bunk with no less than eight books and a stack of turkey sandwiches. Both were enough to sustain me for at least 12 hours, only venturing down when my bladder would scream at me to show some mercy or if one of my many siblings banged on my door and I had to get down to bicker with them about important things like who ate the last Little Debbie or who used up all the hot water.
Sometimes my mother would get worried about my lack of movement and would shoo me out the door but I always had a novel hidden under my coat. As soon as I was out of her line of sight I would sit down on a rock and lose myself in adventures that weren’t my own, much easier to read about such things instead of actually doing them yourself.
Twice I was signed up for a team sport in the hopes that I’d develop some form of appreciation for anything athletic. Softball was the first attempt. I lasted through one practice. I started out guarding first base but each time I ducked when the ball was hit towards me the coach would move me back as he yelled “Get in FRONT of the ball!” Being further away from the action didn’t really help, though. It seems that when you are in the outfield daydreaming about everything except sports, that baseballs tend to smash into your nose. I’m not sure what I was expecting from the coach, perhaps a hug or at least a tissue to stop the blood. When all he said was “Well, at least you’re stepping up to the ball now,” I marched my broken nose to the car and told my mom I was done.
I lasted longer playing volleyball though I did manage to get through the whole season without ever touching the ball. Takes mad skills to do that. Mostly, though, I just enjoyed how cute I looked in my leggings.
I didn’t give up totally on sports, though. I did discover that I really love running. Alone. Seems that team sports just wasn’t my thing, pushing myself on my own, though, felt amazing to me. I loved being able to step out of my problems, inhale serenity, and let my feet make music on the ground. Plus, you know, no risk of broken noses unless I happened to go crashing down a mountain. (Which actually did occur one time, but that’s another story.)
I’ve always ran for the fun of it but recently, just this past week in fact, I decided to push myself a bit more and I’ve set the goal of running a 5K in two months. And I don’t plan on stopping there either. If that goes well, I plan on doing a 10K and then perhaps even a marathon, one that doesn’t include books. I’ve decided it’s time to test out just how strong I, and my legs, can be. But if you see me running down the road, please don’t honk. It might cause me to stumble and harm my already crooked nose. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to purchase some leggings. They still sell those, right?