The Sisterhood is a place to bring your cup of coffee to. Heck, bring the whole pot :). Sit down, relax, and fall in for a while. No divas or meanies allowed. It's about boy brain, kiddos, food, one crazy labrador, autism and a cat in recovery from a back tire incident. Oh the places you'll go :)

Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day: Animated Walking and the Graceful Soccer Dads I Envy

on September 27, 2012


Soccer practice for the ten year old was last night.  It’s hot where we live.  REALLY hot.  Fall is no where near our town and has certainly not made even a peek-a-boo appearance in the neighborhood.  It’s just hot and that makes soccer practice a whole lot of fun.  It’s all I can do to keep the sweat from puddling in my chair.  One night was so bad that, as I walked to the car, my son asked me if I’d had an accident.  I assured him I do not pee my pants but, to look at my shorts, you might not have believed me either.

Despite my dedication to all things that involve my kiddos, soccer practice is challenging.  It’s all I can do to just sit there under a searing sun with no shade in sight.  I have even resorted to bringing my umbrella (not nearly as pretty as a parasol might be) in order to conjure up some tiny amount of shade.  Last night, as I fumbled and struggled to build my shade, I noticed one of our soccer dads doing the unthinkable at practice.

He was running. In the daylight!  In the HEAT!

Looking up, I could see he was one of those runners.  He was running effortlessly.  No gasping, no flailing, no hunching over in agony.  I might add that he was also running at a pace that would have flat out killed me.  A half mile with him and I would have keeled right over dead.  But there he was in the heat of a hundred degree day.   No fancy running shoes, no lycra, no dri-fit, no aero-dynamic anything.  It was just him, his wore-out shoes, a pair of basketball shorts down to his knees and a plain white t-shirt and he was running not only in the daylight but in the hottest part of a 100 degree day…and he was doing it beautifully.  He had grace, an even stride and he hardly seemed to sweat.  Ugghhh.

He is clearly out of my league.

I am not really a runner.  There is some technical rule that says, if you are a runner, you will run at some impossibly fast pace and, if you don’t, you are demoted to jogger status.  I do not run at a pace that comes anywhere near being fast so that would demote me into the range of ‘jogger’…but I so don’t like that term at all.  I don’t like what it means, I don’t even like how it sounds.  I can remember not liking it even when I was a kid.  Even the way the letters put themselves together sounds mucky, disgraceful, and kind of waterlogged.

I have come to terms with the reality that my nine minute mile pace that I used to own when I lived in New Tampa will probably elude me for a long time, like forever, but I just can’t face labeling myself as a jogger…ever.  So I am left in a middle ground that puts me not knowing what I am besides clearly out of shape.  I will never be in a class with that graceful soccer dad but jogging is not a badge I want to own either.  I can definitely be considered a walker because I can make that pace but I am more than just a walker.

It was while I was struggling on the road in the dark yesterday morning, as I tried to make it for the full ten minute “run” that I had set as my goal, that I realized who I am athletically and where I fit in.  I get that what I do on the road in the dark hours of morning is not a real run and I can’t be a jogger but, as the street light behind me helped me glimpse my shadow, I came out of the gray area that was defining me.  I watched my shadow do whatever it is I do and I realized, more than anything, what I do is animated walking.   My body is kind enough to keep a pace that allows for breathing/gasping and while that pace is not a run, it isn’t always a walk either.  That thing I do in those ten minutes when I stop walking and before I reach “runner” status one day is “animated walking”.  Not quite running but not at all walking.

It is who I am and it is where my fitness is at the moment.  Tomorrow I will bump my “animated walking” goal to 15 minutes and see how many houses I can clear because even though the ten minutes isn’t a breeze to complete, I sure do want to get back my mileage.  I may never see the 4.5 miles I used to run before the kids woke up in the morning, but I would like to get up to ONE MILE without walking before Halloween gets here.  It may be a pipe dream but, the way I see it, it’s better to set the goal high and adjust later than it is to go easy and keep buying fat pants to cover the ever expanding belly and thighs.

So, I am learning to bury the ego and leave it at home in the mornings when I go on my animated walk because egos can be powerful and damaging and I am suddenly becoming aware that they can make or break your progress.  I will be slow, my pace will hardly exist faster than my animated walk but I know it’s an ‘animated’ walk and one day, if I am consistent and persistent, it will turn back into a run.  And, every soccer practice, I will watch the graceful soccer dad and I will be inspired by the beauty in his pace and his posture and that fact that he runs circles so effortlessly around me.  And, somewhere in my envy, I will find the pride that is building in my own effort because no matter how slow I go, I am still faster than the couch brigade.


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