It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

April 25, 2011

My Almost Football Career

During my Junior and Senior years of High School I was part of the Powder Puff football team.  If you aren’t sure what this is, it was an annual flag football game played between the Junior and Senior High School girls and it was always held during Homecoming week.  It was a big deal every year and pretty much everyone in the school came out to watch.  My senior year we were losing miserably to the Junior girls (a little embarrassing for us upper classman).  We only had a few seconds left in the game.  At the last moment our High School’s real quarterback Travis (who was also our coach) decides to throw the ball down the field to see if we can make a last second score.  It went something like this:

I see the ball coming my way.  It’s floating up in the air, the football lights in the stadium are on, and it’s headed straight my way.  I know I can catch it – even though it won’t count as real points (since the real quarterback is throwing the ball).  It will still be exciting to catch it! 

In those few seconds I envisioned myself catching the ball, running down the field to score, the crowd going wild, and me being carried off the field on the shoulders of my teammates.  What actually happened?  I held out my arms to catch the ball, and it hit me square in the forehead, bounced off my head, landed on the ground in front of me and the game was over.  Needless to say I was absolutely humiliated.  Instead of cheers, there were laughs, and people pointing and saying – “ouch”, or “did you see that?”  I seriously considered quitting school at that moment.  I just knew I would never live it down.  The next day would be the worst day of my life.  I literally couldn’t sleep that night.  I still remember that moment so vividly….but if you were to ask one of my classmates would they actually remember – maybe a few, but most would not.  But this is just one example of my stellar athletic career.

In elementary and middle school I played softball, but I was always one of the worst players on the team – always in the outfield and always batting last.  In high school and college I played tennis, but again, I was always one of the last seeded players.  In road races and triathlons I am always in the bottom 25% of my age group.  And when I race in Oklahoma City on Sunday it will be no different, but I am ok with that, because I’m out there.  In high school, I might have been embarrassed by missing the football, but I was out there.  I’m sure there were a lot of my female classmates that were watching the game from the bleachers because they were too afraid to get out there and try, or because they just didn’t have enough confidence to think they could do it, or they didn’t want to put a little time into practicing. 

And when it comes to racing, even though I'm a "slow" runner and triathlete, I still know that I'm also in the minority.  I am the only person in my department at work who has ever completed a half marathon or a triathlon.  I am one of only a few people in my neighborhood, my County, my State, that have done these things.  It’s really cool to know that although I’ll never win my age group, or take home an age group award, that I’m still out there “Slowly Tri-ing” no matter what!


25 comments:

  1. You are exactly right. I know I will never "win" a race, but just being out there is winning enough for me. Not many people even have the courage to start the training process. I really liked this post, Michael. :o) Good luck Sunday and have fun.

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  2. Good for you. Like you, I'm not going to win crap but I take pride in knowing I have the guts to try to finish all these races and events.

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  3. I love this post. I can really relate to it, but it took me many years to reach the point of being able to do things - even if I might be last. I think it's awesome that you had so much acceptance of yourself in high school.

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  4. YES, YES, YES!! This is amazing, Michael! Not only are you out there doing it, but you have the insight and perspective to realized that THAT is what matters. What a beautiful thing! I loved reading this because I've never had what I would consider "natural" talent in any sort of athletic endeavor, so I could totally relate to your experiences!

    You are going to kill it this weekend. Did Jim tell you we ran into each other at the gym today? Too funny! I told him to wish you good luck for this weekend's race, but now I can do it myself! Good luck!!

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  5. I give you so much credit. What you do is HARD work. I can't swim one lap without splashing tons of water and looking like an idiot. You are amazing, no matter what pace you do it at! Love this post :)

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  6. You rock and you are so right! The fact that you are out there is the biggest achievement of all. After my first season of racing, I seriously considered having a bike jersey made up that said, "I know, I know.. You're on my left!!".

    But I kept tri-ing (ha) and took on new challenges. I may never qualify for Kona but I love the journey. Not every training day is great, not every race is great, buy every opportunity that we have is!

    Keep at it and I'll be rooting for you this weekend!!

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  7. AMEN! And really, if you talk to 99% of people, they have no idea what "sprint" or "olympic" or "half" even mean. They just know that we are doing an athletic even they can't even imagine attempting!

    I can't tell you how many people think I've actually done a full Ironman just because they know I've done some triathlons. I don't even try to correct them anymore :D

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  8. This post is perfect! Keep doing it :)

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  9. The courage is in showing up to the start line. Keep it up!

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  10. What a great way to think about all this!

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  11. Love this because I can relate so well. I’m slow, very slow, but I’ve done more than most will ever do and that makes me proud. Keep it going!

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  12. Awe baby ... you're my favorite Triathloner! This weekend will be so much fun and you'll do great, you always do! I'm glad you're out there too! I'm always proud of you.

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  13. love this!!! ive learned so much about myself since getting into endurance sports. i used to think i was weak and was a quitter. i know now that i am STRONG and TOUGH although i am winning any awards either. its not about the awards, its about the personal victory!

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  14. What a great post!!

    I'm a mid-pack gal (not the fastest but not the slowest, either). I can tell you that my friends and I are WAY more impressed and inspired by the people who finish last than by the people who finish first. There's no comparison.

    Go get 'em on Sunday!

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  15. What a great attitude! And you're so right--you are in the minority. Look around at America--not exactly a fit nation. You are a great example!

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  16. You are a rock star and I am so glad you are out there trying. You are strong and a great role model. Thanks!

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  17. I am really impressed by all you have accomplished and yes I remember that football game. I've always been proud of you and all the things you do. Keep slowly tri-ing. You are doing amazing wonderful things with your life.

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  18. You remember more about your football career then I do, and I played for 14 years.

    You are so right, it isnt about winning first, the winning starts when you start the journey, the reward is crossing a finishline

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  19. This is why you're one of my favorite blogs! You're just being you!

    I'm much the same way, it's just that I'm stuck in the middle. Always sandwiched. I've learned to be happy with it and enjoy the ride.

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  20. LOL! too perfect for a cartoon or blooper reel. :) I still think you are awesome and love that story!

    Who cares how fast/slow we are. Time is relative. You are leagues ahead of your co-workers!

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  21. Great post! I think a lot of us feel the same way. There are likely no age group awards in my future (unless it is a super tiny race) but the win for me is getting out there and finishing. You are awesome!

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  22. I love your attitude! Can you rub some off on me???

    We did PowderPuff football in high school too- one game. Absolute crack-up. Everyone was SO serious about it!

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  23. Found your blog and love it! I am slow too..recently ran my first 10K in 1:18.

    I loved this post..so encouraging and I loved your attitude of never giving up. On a recent run, I just kept thinking - "I refuse to give up!"

    Good luck on your race! Enjoy it!

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