On “boldly going” where someone thinks you may not belong

25 05 2012

I was finishing up a bike ride the other day when I happened across a friend who is somewhat of an acclaimed amateur athlete and currently works as a sports coach.  He inquired about my ride and I mentioned that I have a 100-mile century ride coming up at the end of the summer.  He looked taken aback as he visually scanned my bike, a 21-speed Trek Women’s cruiser well-suited for “Sunday afternoon rides with the grand kids” according to one review I read on Trek’s website while researching my purchase three years ago.  “Oh you’re gonna have a hard time doing a Century on that bike!” he offered, walking over to examine my bicycle’s various shortcomings.  “You’re gonna see people out there with racing bikes, and you’re gonna have to stand up to pedal when you go up hills.”  As I assured him that I don’t give a rat’s ass what others are riding and I already do stand up to pedal uphill, he finished his inspection of my tires, handlebars and seat, recanted a bit and then changed the subject.

I smiled and made an excuse about needing to get to work (which terminated our conversation) but I have continued to seethe about the encounter for the past several days.  I’m sure my friend had the best of intentions but I became annoyed nonetheless because I felt like I was being profiled.  And I have always hated being profiled!

It irks me when people who fit a certain stereotype look askance at me because I don’t. My stomach churned when I showed up in college as a 37-year-old freshman and was actively discouraged against pursuit of a pre-med education by a few skeptical professors. My blood later simmered in med school when some random attending would spot tired old me lined up at rounds with a gaggle of 20-somethings then cock his head to the side like a befuddled dog.  And my teeth grit to this day when I arrive at a race where a young gazelle-like runner will stop mid-stretch to glance dubiously in my direction as I waddle on toward the start line.

These are the days when I literally want to shout “I’m just as good as you and I don’t give a damn what you think!”  But apparently I do care or I wouldn’t even be writing this post.  The fact is I WAS as good as anyone at college, indeed better than most, because I got into medical school despite being older and poorer with less of a support system.  And I DID belong with other med students on rounds because I am now a fairly well-respected family physician with my own private practice.  And I AM a friggin’ runner because my big butt gets out there to do anything from 3 to 13.1 miles and finishes them, then walks away smiling.  And I WILL ride that 100 miles on my bike despite how unlikely IT or I may seem to someone who thinks they know better.

Yet as much as being underestimated drives me crazy, it also drives me forward.  The minute someone seems as if they think I can’t, my first impulse is to show them “oh yes I will”.  Students and doctors and runners come in all shapes, sizes and ages.  And nobody should ever try to convince anyone else that they are incapable just because they don’t conform to a pattern!

OK.  This rant is over.

Here is a recap of my training for the past couple of weeks:
Following the Bloomington Lake run, I had a considerable amount of left Achilles pain due to aggravation of that chronic injury.  Taking it easy on running, I ramped up the biking to keep cardio fitness and leg strength from sliding backward too much.

Sunday May 6 — took the day off
Monday May 7 — back/chest/core, lower body stretch
Tueday May 8 — took the day off
Wednesday May 9 — took the day off
Thursday May 10 — 3 miles walking, the Achilles grumbled
Friday May 11 — 45 minute bike ride, first of the season; my butt didn’t hurt afterward!
Saturday, May 12 — through an act of Divine Providence a lightning storm caused the cancellation of the Lemont 10 miler; I very wisely took the day off

Sunday May 13 — took anther day off
Monday May 14 — 4 miles of run/walk intervals, after which the Achilles screamed
Tuesday May 15 — active rest:  4 hours of gardening
Wednesday May 16 — 30 minute bike ride, slow
Thursday May 17 — 3 mile walk
Friday May 18 — 1 hour bike ride around 12 mph
Saturday May 19 — almost 4 miles of run/walk intervals (mostly walking)

Sunday May 20 — off
Monday May 21 — active rest:  1 hour of light gardening
Tuesday May 22 — 66 minute bike ride around 12 mph, followed by 2 hours of gardening
Wednesday May 23 — almost 5 miles of run/walk intervals (negative splits); I felt really good
Thursday May 24 — 40 minute bike ride, slow (a very windy day)
Friday May 25 — upper body weights, lower body stretch


I acknowledge the glaring absence of abs/corework and I truly have no excuse.  I’ll get back to it with more dedication next  week.  Having the abs of Betty White’s older sister is not my heart’s desire, and I can most certainly do better.

Maybe what I need is for someone to ogle my jiggly midsection with an eyebrow raised like Mr. Spock and dryly comment, “well she will obviously NEVER have abs that ever amount to anything”…

Ya think?



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