Believe it or not, there was a time when Britney Spears was actually kind of good—before K-Fed, before the umbrella incident, before she stopped wearing underwear.
Okay, so maybe she wasn’t really ever that good. But I was on the brink of entering middle school the year …Baby One More Time was released, so I pretty much had to be a fan in order to fit in.
So today at the gym, I was powering through a moderately difficult elliptical workout when an elderly gentleman jumped—err, stepped gingerly—onto the machine next to mine. He scrolled through the TV channels, finally settling on a M.A.S.H. rerun as he glided along at a leisurely pace.
In the past, I wouldn’t have thought twice about the disparities in speed and difficulty between his workout and mine. I was, after all, a college track and field athlete.
But now that I’m a has-been, I realized that there is really nothing—besides, oh, say, 50 years—separating this man and myself. It’s no longer, “I’m an athlete” and “You’re just a regular guy who likes to stay in shape.” Now we’re both nothing more than recreational exercisers!
Which brings me to my Britney Spears connection (no, I didn’t pull a TMZ and drop Britney’s name just to sucker you into reading this entire post). There’s a Britney song that goes something like, “I’m not a giiiiirl, not yet a woman…[some other nasally pop lyrics that I don’t remember]…all I neeeeeeeed is time, a moment that is mine, whiiiiiile I’m in betweeeeeeeennnn…”
For some reason, that song popped into my head as I gritted my teeth and kicked it into high gear for my final mile. (Okay, I had my iPod playlist set to “Most Played” and that song came on. So what?)
That’s when it hit me. Like Britney, I too am caught in between two stages of life. Last November, I ran the last race of my decade-long career in organized school sports. Unwilling to give up my Oreo habit or my sweet biceps, I kept working out like I had a season to train for even though I knew I would never again don a team uniform.
Admittedly, I do take a day off from exercising now and then—a luxury I allowed myself once a week, max, when I was training seriously. These days, if I want to 86 my run to watch animal fight videos on YouTube or browse the archives for my area code on Texts From Last Night, I do it.
Still, I’m a long ways off from lifting soup cans and joining the local mall-walking club. I’m not a Division I runner, not yet an AARP Fitness & Wellness Program member. All I need is time, a moment that is mine, while I’m in between.
But don’t worry—I plan to steer clear of trucker hats and back-up dancers who think they can rap.