Many of us are pre-Title IX women, having grown up before money was appropriated for women's athletics. We had gym class in school - I remember embroidering my name in navy block letters on my white snapped blouse, and those horrible navy shorts with "Linda Gromko" embroidered in perfect white block letters on the cuff. We didn't have the ubiquitous soccer teams which seem to be the current norm for school-age girls. I never lacked for things to do: playing and teaching cello, editing both the high school newspaper - AND the more dicey alternative press rag. There was political activism, and an abundance of academic pursuits. But girls' sports simply weren't an option.
Physical fitness came much later, as a way to lose weight and reduce stress. Those of us who have found exercise later in Iife may not struggle with chronic joint pain from repeated athletic injuries. But we may lack the physical confidence - the balance, the muscle memory, the assuredness that our bodies will simply do what we ask them to; that understanding comes from years of physical practice.
But there is hope for us. Here are some incredible examples:
- One woman I know did a 26-mile cross-country ski marathon during her first year of cross-country skiing.
- Another woman who started working out at a gym a number of years ago has become a world champion power lifter: lifting 1000 pounds in her combined events of the squat, bench press, and dead lift. She'd never lifted before her forties. Watching her squat 400 pounds is a near-miracle.
- A third woman, a civil engineer, chooses a "project" each year. This year, she entered a body-building competition for the first time ever - and came home with a third-place trophy!
Our coach has guided us that if we don't feel like we're about to have a heart attack by the end of our race, we're not working hard enough. Moreover, there's supposed to be blood involved, but I can't imagine whose blood!
I think LWRC can count on fun and a good potluck - and from our group, the exceptional opportunity to reclaim what we may not have enjoyed as girls: a glimpse of the physical prowess we envy in our daughters!
Linda Gromko, MD