Test Your Fitness Limits
My Fitness Bucket List
I liken my high school career as a sprinter to eating a mediocre meal at a four-star restaurant. It's supposed to be stellar -- you've read rave reviews -- but it doesn't quite deliver. That's not to say I lacked talent. During track practice, I'd put up the fastest 100-meter qualifying times in my age group. The starting line is where I lost it. Sounds of blaring sirens would play in my ears; my jaw would tense; hot and cold sensations would tingle through my scalp; I'd feel the sudden urge to pee. Before I had taken one step, I'd already choked.
A psychologist would label it an anxiety attack. My track coaches called it a demon fit, a telltale indication that I was spoiled by my parents and missed too much church.
After I retired my track shoes, my pluck remained in question. There were things I longed to try -- amateur boxing, auditioning to be a contestant on the TV show American Gladiators -- but never followed through with for fear I'd wither on opening night. As I've gotten older, I've sought imaginative ways to walk the plank. Every year on my birthday, I skydive. I've redlined my motorcycle on the freeway to the tune of 160 miles per hour. And five days a week I tread the stairclimber until my heels turn numb. How much does it take to prove that I'm not a wimp? I wonder.
A couple of months before my 30th birthday, I decided it was time to reconcile the athlete I never was with the woman I am today. I drew up a list of four physical dares that would once and for all test my mettle. If I could accomplish these feats, I figured, I'd finally be absolved from past failures.
My "bucket list" was composed of nail-biting activities I'd never tried. First up, wall climbing. My arms are like taffy and my hands are Smurf-size, not to mention that heights make my knees knock together; conquering this task would be a one-punch knockout against the bigger guy.
Challenge number two: caving, chosen to confront my fear of darkness, bats, graves, and other images reminiscent of the living dead (I still sleep with a light on). Next on the list was white-water rafting. At age 9, I nearly drowned. Enough said. For a grand finale I settled on hang gliding.
True, I already skydive. But with diving, the adventure is over in eight blinks of an eye, before rational thinking sets in. Hang gliding leaves you dangling in the atmosphere hundreds of feet above the ground, with at least 15 minutes to muse about what you're doing. A smidge wackier than free-falling, I'd say.
As serendipity would have it, soon after making my list I was invited on a sporting excursion to Chattanooga, Tennessee, a veritable fertile crescent for all things outdoorsy and athletic. My bucket list would soon come to life.
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