JUST THINKING: Athletic ability

I fancy myself an athlete. I’m not exactly sure why. I walk a couple miles most days, sometimes adding a jogging interval or two. But that’s about it.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I’m envious of my friends who train seriously for triathlons and ultra marathons. Or that I’d love to be like the gals I know who lift weights regularly and have the “cut” bodies to show for it. Or that I pine for the days when I could play tennis at least once a week.

My schedule and a bum knee make it tricky to do most of that. But I decided to stick my neck out this fall and joined the company co-ed softball team. Mind you, I haven’t played since that one summer in fourth grade, but I thought I’d try to put out my most intimidating vibe.

I showed up for our first game, which actually was a double-header, a couple weeks ago wearing my sneakers and my 12-year-old daughter’s softball mitt from last year.

Not exactly scary, except to maybe my teammates.

While my performance was less than intimidating, I’m happy to report I did not strike out. Only made it around the bases a total of twice the whole night. But, I didn’t strike out.

Just Thinking | Julie Stafford

This week was proof that I am most certainly not an athlete. It started with me screeching into the parking lot at the stroke of 6 p.m., just as the game was starting. No time for stretching, but I’ve never been big on that — even though I know I should.

First game, first bat, I took off for first base and — POW! — my quads in both legs felt like they popped. I saw stars — not the real ones in the sky — felt a little sick to my stomach and was out. Thankfully not passed out. Just tagged out before hitting the base. Hobbling to the bench, I knew I was in trouble. I thought for sure my walking days were over for a while.

Somehow I managed to get through the game, but anyone who was there would tell you it wasn’t pretty. And it most certainly wasn’t intimidating.

Good news is my team won that game. The better news, for me at least, was that I actually could get out of bed the next morning.

Whether or not I can play next week remains to be seen.

I now know I’m not really an athlete. At least not in terms of running races for competitive times or playing tennis tournaments for titles or being a force on the softball field.

But I also know that I have just enough of a competitive mindset to keep looking for ways to let my inner athlete out.

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