Last spring and summer I began running every other day. It was a liberating experience for a girl who had never ran an entire lap in all her school years. In fact, to this very day I can hear Ms. Bittle yelling my name across the wide, grassy expanse, ”Pick up the pace Annie! Get the lead out!!.
I usually would grimace and pick up the pace for .00834 miles, then begin edging my speed back to that of a sick snail. Poor Ms. Bittle. That spunky, short (she was incredibly short) physical education teacher had met her match in me. There was no way she could make me run. Between my lack of interest, flabby thighs and desire to never perspire and her hollow threats of detention or more laps, I never ran.
Two miles in twelve minutes, are you kidding me? Seriously! Who does that?
Oh! The sporty girls do. There were those girls who had leg muscles, whose quads looked like finely honed logs of wood. They were the girls who played sports…year round! Gasp! They didn’t wear make-up. They didn’t like heels. They were athletic. Ewww.
In high school I took the mandatory one semester of PE. It was taught by, Lord help me, the cheerleading coach. For a girl with dark brown hair, flabby thighs (some things never change), who took drama class, who actually read books, this was pure, unadulterated torture. I’m still scared from the experience and may sue the school district some day.
In my minds eye I still see Mrs. Warren’s fluffy blonde 80’s hair. She was tan. She always wore shorts and tank tops…even in winter. Freak show! Her dazzling white, Nike shoes were never scuffed and she was surrounded by the cheer team. Girls like me didn’t stand a chance and the only thing worse than the two weeks of swim lessons (for Pete’s sake if we couldn’t swim by our freshman year of high school maybe we just didn’t want to!) were the laps we were supposed to run.
Why are all PE teachers so spunky? She was like a cheerleader on uppers. Thinking about it now, maybe she was…interesting hypothesis. At any rate, it was her goal in life to make sure that we all understood the importance of physical activity. Her best defense against flab was to challenge us to better ourselves. Thus we spent weeks preparing for the President’s Fitness Challenge.
Sit-ups, push-ups, the pull-up, jumping jacks, the rope climb, and lap after lap of running. It was hell…for everyone but me.
To be continued…