I have always been athletic but I have rarely been an athlete. When asked if I wanted to do the long jump by my middle school coach I told him, “Well no sir. Frankly, I suck at it.” He chuckled and then told me not to use foul language at school again. I was surprised. I thought I was talking about sucking as in a vacuum cleaner. I ignored his warning and went back to the track.
For a while in my pre-teens I did 5 and 3k “fun runs” as they called them to raise money for head injuries and nasal infections. (I kid you not.)
I wasn’t particularly fast but I was competitive in a very Midwestern way. That is to say that I was in denial about my competitive nature until it occasionally reared its ugly head.
On one fun run, there was a nice lady in her 30’s jogging at a similar slow speed and we chatted a good way through until I saw the finish line. My family was not at the end of the finish line but her’s was. They had even brought and stretched out red tape for her to run through. 12 year-old me did not realize this at the time and that is my only defense. When I saw that tape, I instantly knew I would never win the race but I knew I could beat her so a few feet from the finish line, with no warning whatsoever, I sprinted and ran through the nice lady’s friends’ red ribbon. I got a smattering of confused applause from her friends because when an obviously physically disabled girl with mild cerebral palsy runs through your red tape, you have to clap because she’s just proven she’s just like every other kid in town, ya know, a little asshole.