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Monday, June 19, 2006

Confessions of a Former Cheerleader

Lisa asked me, over e-mail, not wanting to "out" me as a former cheerleader:

Just wondering, now that you're into athletic competition, how you feel about those years when gym class was a nightmare. I'm referring, of course, to the choice of cheerleading as your sport. :-) Do you ever think back and wish you'd done things differently?

First off, I'm not embarrassed by my former life as a nerdy, somewhat uncoordinated, high school cheerleader. Cheerleading was fun, gave me much needed confidence, helped me become more coordinated, and though you may not believe it, the halftime dance routines and cheers required quite a bit of endurance.

As for the triathlon sports, I'm content to have fallen on them as an adult. I did some running as an 8 to 10 year-old, but even though I'd place second, third, or fourth in races regularly, I never did come in first. And, with all the pressure from others around me at the time, I never could really be proud of myself, even though I was a good runner. Then when I broke my leg at age 11, I found a convenient excuse to stop running.

So, I'm perfectly content to have fallen on running, biking, swimming, and triathlons as an adult. I'm not training or competing for anyone but myself. I'm content to say that I can swim half a mile in open water, then bike 13 miles and run 3 miles. I'm thrilled that I have actual muscles. That I can drop and do 15 "male" pushups. That I have all the energy I need to get me through my day. That I can fit into the same clothes I wore in college. That when I went through some of the most challenging moments of my life over the past six months, I had an outlet to channel my various emotions into. And, that I can compete in a local triathlon amongst talented athletes and actually do okay compared to them.

I'm proud of all those things that I've accomplished and wouldn't change a thing about the path that I took to get here.

8 comments:

Megan the Vegan said...

I don't know much about cheerleading, but I've seen it on TV a few times. I figure it more athetic that the football they are often cheering for!

Wow - you can do 15 "male" push-ups. That's incredible to me! I wish I could do one. I have such poor upper body strength. It's improved a bit with climbing, but generally I'm still a weakling. I'm hoping swimming will help me out too.

KleoPatra said...

Good for you! I didn't know you were a cheerleader earlier in your life... that's very interesting!

As a sports writer and editor for 20 years, I have seen first-hand the work that goes into cheerleading, and while I looked upon the cheerleaders when I was in high school as semi-goddesses, I know now that there was a lot more going on for those girls than just looking "cute" and hanging out on the sidelines with all the football studs.

As for the push-ups... Yowza! I can't do more than one "male" push-up myself, though I have been trying and trying to get in at least two!!! (And I thought I was "in shape." HA!) Like Megan, I also have poor upper body strength, though it has improved in the last two years. I swim but I don't do it often enough to build those muscles... Good for you, VeganDoc.

Some nice insight into your background here, and cool of you to share.

orangina said...

This is a great post, Vegan Doc. I think a lot of women (and men) are intimidated by the idea of taking up a new athletic venture as adults, but it's a good reminder that MOST triathletes (and many long distance runners) only took up the sport as adults. And cheerleaders get a bad rap... it's very athletic! (I wouldn't know firsthand because I was a BAND GEEK... but, uh, carrying that saxophone was hard work, too. Sort of.)

t. said...

I am as thrilled as others are about the 15 pushups! I can just do 15 semi pushups (you stand o your knees rather than your feet) and I doubt I will evere get the necessary strenght to do them: I will be more than happy to be your own personal cheerleader now that you have got into those sports where you can be a hero yourself and not only the a member of the cheering crowd : )

Broke Vegan said...

You SHOULD be proud!! As a former cheerleader and half-time dancer, I know, first hand, how much endurance it actually takes to do such things!! Keep on your journey!! I'm cheering for you all the way!

funwithyourfood said...

What's wrong with cheerleading?
I enjoy watching it.
Congrats on being proud of who you are and where you came from!

Teddy

tara said...

You should be very proud of yourself!

You ladies do amaze me, being in such great physical shape. It's an inspiration. I waited a bit longer, into my 30s now, before I got into anything active again. I was in track in HS, and I sucked. Since then, I've done nothing until I took up yoga at age 30. Then cycling at age 34.

Thanks to yoga, I can do 1 male pushup, but about 10 "female" pushups in a row. ;)

Melody said...

you're in much beter shape than I am if you can drop and do 15 push-ups..
I hope that one day I will be in the shape you're in... You're such a good example..