I like to think of myself as an athlete, though I’m not sure that’s true. I’ve entered many races, but I’ve never won one. I’ve never really played a sport. (Throughout my schooling, my mother insisted that I stay in band. Seriously.) You wouldn’t necessarily look at me and say, there goes an athlete. So what does it mean to be an athlete?
In those precious moments, when I feel like an athlete, here’s why I do.
Pushing Beyond Doubt
Many times during a work out or in preparation for an event, I’ll have my fair share of doubts. I doubt my ability. I doubt my fitness. Like the time this week when my trainer told me to do single leg plyometric jumps to an 18” bench. I looked at him like he’d lost a screw. Then I looked at the bench, I felt the full force of my doubt, ….. and I did it anyway. I pushed aside my doubts to find out what I was capable of. Or like the time my trainer wanted me to do fully suspended push ups, with my arms in one set of TRX straps and my feet in another. I asked him, ”Really, I can do that?”. And then I did.
Lots of days I don’t feel like training, and I show up anyway. I’m tired. I hurt. I’m hungover. Or I’m sad. Like the days after I miscarried at 11 weeks. I showed up and ran. Or like the days after I miscarried at 23 weeks. I showed up and ran. (I cried through that run). Or like the days after I learned of my son’s autism diagnosis. I showed up and ran and cried and ran some more. I’m not all that fast. I’m not all that strong. I’m not the best trained. And I keep showing up.
Setting Goals That Scare Me
When I turned 50, I decided that I wanted my life to be bigger instead of smaller. I got into my head, don’t ask me why, that one way of doing this was to climb Mt. Rainier. Mt. Rainier is a glaciated mountain outside of Seattle that stands at 14,409 feet and attracts climbers from all over the world because of its Everest-like conditions. People die on Mt. Rainier every year. I had no climbing experience at all. And I’d decided to do a private climb with one of the world most renown climbers, Ed Viesturs.
For months and weeks before the climb, I was completely on edge. The week before our climb, an experience climber and guide had a fatal fall into a crevasse. I was a wreck. I was afraid I was going to die. I took out my first ever life insurance policy. It scared the crap out of me. I pushed through my doubt, I showed up, and I did it anyway. And my life is better for it.
In fact the success of climbing Mt. Rainier inspired me to set another big goal the next year, doing a ½ ironman. What made this a big goal for me was that I didn’t swim and I didn’t bike. And I did it anyway.
So, I don’t know. Am I an athlete? I’m going to choose to believe I am. Because believing that I am an athlete makes me better person.