I keep returning to this photo of my cousins, my sister and me that was taken in the 1970s, when I was maybe 9 years old. I haven't seen pictures of myself at that age in a long time, and the photo brings back memories, especially as my first triathlon approaches.
My son, who hasn't seen many pictures of me as a kid, said I looked scrawny in the photo. "Look at how baggy your clothes are. You look like you're sick!" he said.
I was really skinny as a kid. I have to say, I was not a cute kid; I did look sickly. I just wasn't that in to food, and I wasn't on any medications or diagnosed with any illnesses. I just didn't like to eat. (Unfortunately, I got over that a long time ago.)
I was one of the youngest kids in my class, having gone from kindergarten right to second grade after doing about two months of first grade. I was one of those brainy kids who was good at math and language arts (formerly known as "English"), so they double promoted me. (Unfortunately, I got over that braininess thing a long time ago, too.)
In gym class and on the playground, when it was time to choose teams for Red Rover or kickball or tug-of-war, I was usually the last kid picked for the team. Oh, the kids liked me, but they didn't want me on their teams. I was scrawny, slow and unathletic.
In summers, my mom signed me up for softball leagues, and I held a batting average of ZERO. The coaches hated putting me in. Actually, everyone hated putting me in. I hated putting me in. I was on the Sheriff's Bulldogs, and our team was GOOD. The coach, who was a sheriff deputy, hence the name, would instruct me never to swing at the ball when I was at bat. I was a head shorter than some of the girls, and a little runt of a player, so my batting range was small. I was easy to walk.
Yet, I'd hear the "Hey, batter, batter, batter. SWING!" chants and I'd fall for it every time, followed by the umpire's call "STRIKE!" The coach's face would turn red, "I TOLD you not to SWING!"
When you are told at a young age that you are not an athlete, you believe it. You believe it for a long time. Like 30+ years.
So, on the eve of my first triathlon, I'm thinking about the scrawny girl wearing the orange hippy-like jersey and the goofy braids that she thought made her look like Marcia Brady (tell me you can see the resemblence). I'm still not the fastest girl on my team, but in three months, I've gone from being unable to complete one lap at the pool without stopping twice to completing 10 laps in nine minutes. I run a 10-minute mile, and I can nearly catch my friend, Adriana, when we bicycle (that girl is FAST).