Sunday, June 5, 2011

White Girls Can't Jump? Maybe Not, but Some of Us CAN Hurdle!

Note: I wrote about last night as though nothing yet had happened at the track meet. My parents encourage me to take such steps to preserve anonymity, my location, and other security measures. I'm fairly anonymous here, but I worry about some of the things about which my parents worry, and I'm willing tp accommodate them by occasionally leading any potention evil-doers in the wrong direction.

Most white girls aren't exactly kangaroos. On the other hand, some of us can hurdle. My track coach and I have been arguing over the etymology of it for four years. I say I jump over hurdles. He says one does not jump over hurdles, or at least does not if one is employing the proper hurdling techniques. One hurdles over hurdles. Jumping is an entirely different motor skill, to which I usually respond, "Whatever!"

I hurdled yesterday for what I thought might very well have been the final hurdling event of my high school career, and possibly of my athletic career. As it turned out, my high school hurdling career was extended for one more day. I qualified for the finals in my two individual events and in a relay. The relay went nowhere fast, or more precisely, slowly, but considering that it's an honor just to have been extended the opportunity to participate in the state meet, it was far from a waste of time for all of us. I ran the second leg of the relay. I don't have the long legs best suited to anchor the relay, though I can usually gain on the competition in my leg pf the race. I did, but it wasn't enough. We didn't make the finals, although I'm proud to say we were not dead last.

The qualifying rounds were an eye-opening experience. My coach said I probably would've qualified for state finals last year had it not been for the unfortunate [ahem] incident. This year was, then, my novice experience at a state meet. The girls were taller, more muscled, and generally more formidable in appearance than anything for which I had been prepared. I've run against African-American girls before, but not ones that looked like the ones I saw yesterday and today. They greatly resembled skin-covered versions of the muscled bodies minus skin pictured in my dad's copy of Gray's Anatomy. The cauacasian girls I encountered looked different than the caucasian girls I had faced in earlier competitions as well. They were almost universally blonde, Nprdic in appearance, and had legs that seemed to me to be at least the length of my entire height.

A family friend (Kristeen's ne[hew) was a track meet official. Sinc I had only one coach present, and we had six competitors from my high school, he was able to come up with field "coaching" privileges for another person. He let me choose, and I chose my Uncle Scott, who had run track in high school and one year of college.

My primary event, the 300-meter hurdles, did not go well for me in my preliminary run. I got off to a mediocre start and never quite found my mojo. Fortunately for me, others' mojos were even more elusive, so I eked into the finals.

Uncle Scott told me prior to my heat of the preliminaries in the 100-meter hurdles that 100-meter hurdles were and should have been my optimal event all along. He said that the longer-legged and larger-muscles girls needed more time to get their legs in hurdling order than I needed. All I had to do was to go out there and do what I always do, and I'd find my way into the finals. Before the start of the race, the competitors were looking at me as though they were wondering what in the hell I was even doing there.nThey probably thought i was some track coach's child or some compettitor's younger sibling who was allowed onto the track because she was "special." When I finished first in my heat, their looks were even more puzzled.

I had my doctor-precribed controversial "medicine" with ice cream between doses, and slept on it quite well. We reported for the early testing; random drug testing can be done, and I was even randmonly selected once. They officials must have been looking for amphetmines in my system, because any idiot could take one look at me and correctly pronounce that I'm not on steroids. The remainder of my down-time was spent at the hotel and at Kristeen's sister's house. where I played the piano for awhile, which is relaxing to me. I wish I had the opportunity to play the piano before every track or diving competition; I suspect the piano playing heightened my performance.

I had my own cheering section this time, which I've never had. In previous years even my parents didn't make it to my meets. At tonight's final competition, I had watching and cheering for me my brother, my parents, my Aunt Victoria and Uncle Ralph, my cousins Philip and Michael and Michael's girlfriend, my Uncle Ralph's brother, Kristeen and her husband, Kristeen's sister, who is widowed, and her boyfriend, Kristeen's sister's son's girlfriend (whose boyfirend was a meet official), one of Kristeen's sister's boyfriend's sons, another of Kristeen's sisters who is really loud, another one of Kristeen's sisters and her husband, my three relay teammates and the parents of one of them, who decided to stay for tonight's final, one guy who also made it to the final and his parents, my coach, his wife, and my Aunt Jillian and Uncle Scott, who was on the field because he had credentials to be there as my other coach.

It was raining tonight. The school district had a machine that was similar to a Zamboni to clear water off the track after each race. Still, the rains slowed times. which didn't matter all that much except for those who were record seekers, because the conditions were the same for all competitors. I must admit that, after last year's hurdling injury, even though that accident had nothing to do with rain or water, I was nervous about slipping (even by other runners) and resu;ting injuries. It ended up not being a factor. Weather conditions slowed times, but the effect was the same for everyone. I suppose it may have been worse in a practical sense for thos counting on fast times to increase scholarship chances, but c'est la vie. Weather happens.

I was relatively loose for my three-hundred-meter hurdle event. My goal was to npt finish last and to use the race as a warm-up for the 1100-meter event, which was ironic in that it reviously was my premiere event. At that level of competition, the other girls wer simply too tall and/or strong. I managed to finish third. If I had needed to leave the meet right at that point for some reason, i would've left thoroughly happy.

I wasn't so loose for the 100-meter hurdles, but one does not necessarily want to be too loose for that race. It's a fast and furious event. Technique is comtroversial. You're supposed to make it to the first hurdle in eight steps. Most people my size would not be able to do this, but I have gymnastics training to thank for my leg extension. Between hurdles the preferred number of steps is three. Most hurdlers have a definitely preferred lead leg. Gymnastics has caused me to have ambidextrous legs, and I have practiced so that I can lead equally well with either leg. This avoids any shuffling or short-stepping if I for some reason can only manage to reach hurdle two through ten in four steps. It's rarely an issue to the extent that my coach has questioned the efficacy of my leading a hurdle with both legs in practice in order to be equally facile in using either leg as a lead leg. Tonight it came in handy. I had to four-step it to hurdle number ten, and I led with my left leg with ease.

I cannot give enough credit to my past gymnastics coaches, who, in doing just their basic jobs, taught me maximum leg extension. This essentially eliminated any leg length advantage that the taller girls had over me. I'm fast but not as fast as the very speediest girls with longer or more muscled legs, but I can hurdle right along with them. In tonight's case I hurdled ahead of them.

So I am a state champion hurdler. I'm not so petty as to need to compete with my brother's athletic accomplishments, but this probably surpasses any of his achievements thus far. He'll go on to much greater glory as a baseball player. I've probably hurdled my final event. I'll most likely choose diving over hurdling as my college sport, because diving in and of itself is more fun and more exhilarating. Hurdling is fun when I win. Diving is fun just for the sake of diving. I haven't made my final choice yet, but I'm leaning toward diving.

The tour guide told me about club sports at the university, where one competes against others from the university and even occasionally from other unniversities, but it's take much less seriously. I may consider hurdling in that capacity. Or I may do it as an official sport. It could even depend upon which coach I like better. Since I'm a walk-on in either sport, both of which are spring sports, I have time to make up my mind.

For tonight I'm resting on my laurels and being happy that for at least once in my life, I did the very best I could possibly have done. I will sleep well in my hotel bed. i should already be asleep, but I'm sitting on the bathroom of Scott and Jillian's hotel room, and no one is hassling me about typing here.

This experience, just like all other good and bad experience in my life, will fade, but I'll always have the memory upon which to call when I need to remind myself that I am not mediocre at best.

p. S. I was remiss in failing to include that Dr. Jeff, AKA Chairman Mao, dragged his wife and daughter a distance that took longer than three-and-one-half hours just to see me compete in the finals last night. His presence there meant a great deal to me. I don't know how I could have failed to include their family with the remainder of my cheering section. Thanks, Chairman!

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Alexis. Congratulations!