by EM RUSCIANO
When I was a kid I was a gun track athlete.
Yep. I refuse to cut my tall poppy teenage self down. It’s just how it was.
I trained like a possessed work horse and reaped the benefits of that. I won my first national title at the age of ten and continued to be the one of the best hurdlers (and best high jumpers for a period of time) in the country for my age group.
That all ended around the time I turned 18. I was competing at the state aerobic championship (Grand Father Ted affectionately called me the “over-achieving little shit”) and managed to tear both my hamstrings while completing some aggressive high kicks. You know, the ones where they throw their legs up in between outstretched jazz hands, all while smiling maniacally.
After that, my athletic career came to an abrupt halt as torn hamstrings (we’re talking nearly off the bone) and stress fractures in the spine (from over training) are basically impossible to come back from. This also killed off my dream of a Sydney Olympic berth.
For 15 years I busied myself with other things. Giving birth blah blah, Australian Idol blah blah, radio shows, giving birth again, oh and getting married blah blah. All of that was just a build up, the support act, the ENTREE to me making my magnificent athletic comeback. And now it has happened.
Friends – for the first time in 15 years I competed in an athletic event on Saturday and it was bloody marvelous.
Had I done ANY training whatsoever to prepare myself? Pfffft no. Training is for girls. Sorry? Did I think about the long term effects on my ability to walk or sit down or to go to the toilet after said competition ended? Pfffft no. Thinking is for girls.
For too long I had put this off. Why? Well, I was worried about a multitude of things..
1. My body has pumped out two small humans, it doesn’t look at tight as it did when I was 18. The uniform involves a lycra crop top. Sure, I could wear the men’s singlet but that is nowhere near as cute.
2. Oh GOD the skin on my stomach wobbles when I run – like an elephant’s ear but not quite so grey.
3. If I put egg whites on my stomach to tighten it, will they cook in the sun?
4. I am still VERY good in my MIND. How will I cope with not measuring up to that on the day?!
5. I have done NO track training. Sure, I jog each day and have put in some solid dance floor time but nothing that involves moving in short powerful bursts.
6. Oh GOD the skin on my stomach wobbles when I run.
You see where my priorities lay. I put all that aside and just decided to bite the bullet, turn up and join the Athletics Club that my daughter belongs to. They handed over the crop top AND the singlet and I wore both… Just so I had the option.
My first event was to be the high jump. Sure, I had two old stress fractures in my spine and had not done any sort of dynamic movement through that area in 15 years. I didn’t care. I was a woman possessed. I had a point to prove to myself and anyone else who cared to listen to me bang on about how good I was as a kid.