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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

First Loves

They say you never forget your first love. This has held true in my life, though more when dealing with inanimate things than with romance. For example, while I now love Classical mythology, I'll never forget that it was Egyptian mythology (through the book The Egypt Game) that first introduced me to the genre.

The same holds true with sports. While I no longer hesitate to call myself a runner, the truth is, I would never actually say I love running, and took me a long time to find a sport I did love.

My parents always had one simple rule for my brother and I- we could do whatever activity we wanted, as long as we were doing something active. And I ran the whole gambit of sports. Ballet, gymnastics, basketball, soccer (which I stuck with the longest), softball, swimming (even synchronized swimming one year), volleyball, track, crew, lacrosse (lost interest when I discovered women's lacrosse was way less violent than men's lacrosse)...there aren't many sports I haven't tried. But it wasn't until high school that I discovered fencing.

In fencing, I found a sport where speed and strength had to be matched by strategy and endurance. My height put me at a disadvantage, but I could make up for it by outlasting and out-thinking my opponent. Best of all, I could be as aggressive as I wanted to be without getting carded or flagged (believe it or not, while I'm pretty quiet normally, I'm very aggressive when I play sports- I think I spent more time benched than playing basketball for fouls). Then I went to college and stopped fencing.

Fast forward 6 years. After a year in grad school at a university with a fencing club, I finally got up the courage to contact the group. They invited me to come by for summer practice Thursday night. Still nervous, I made a deal with myself. If my old gear still fit, I would go. Long story short, my gear all still fits (thank you, running!) and I fenced for the first time in several years last week. And I learned something. You really don't forget a first love. As soon as I held my epee again, I remembered everything I'd loved about fencing, and wondered why I'd ever stopped. So, it looks like I'll be adding some cross-training into my running schedule from here on out. :)

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