I woke up Sunday and literally stumbled out of bed. I tried cleaning our apartment with Josh but it took me a while to move around. So I sat on a stool at the sink doing dishes. I had sore legs. Such sore legs. But I had a soccer game to play in that afternoon. Yeah right.
The game was for a team that I've newly joined this season. My friend Julie, a superstar (and new blogger) who I played soccer with in High School, invited me to join. It originated as her company team but is no longer. It is co-ed with far more men than women (8 men and 3 women on the field at a time). It is full field, 11 v. 11. So it is serious business and much more intense than the fun 7 v. 7 I've been playing with Touchstone for so many seasons.
All this and it was my first game with the team and I could barely walk. Whenever playing with new people, especially really experienced players that are male and better than me, it is really important to me that I play well and prove that I am good at this sport. I want a team to see value in me and to want me on the field with them. I want to set a good reputation. In the state my legs were in, though, I didn't see much promise for that reputation being set on Sunday. People knew I had run the half but that didn't change much. They still wanted to win and if I screwed anything up, they wouldn't be happy about it. Maybe I should have considered sitting out. But I had done that the week before in fear of making my knee worse. So I downed two advil, put on my cleats and shin guards and I played. I only played about 25 minutes in each half but 50 minutes of running was a lot given the circumstances. Surprisingly, once I started playing, my legs loosened up and I was alright. I didn't do much in the first half but didn't screw anything up either. It was nice to touch a soccer ball for the first time in months and it was even better to do so on a smooth turf field. In the second half, I got a little more comfortable and played pretty well. I had a good play in which I swooped in and stole the ball from a (probably 200 lb) guy being passed to by another guy. I dribbled for a few seconds and passed to Kevin who took a challenging shot and scored our second goal of the game. My confidence was boosted, even more so as my teammates asked my name and commended me for the play. I continued to run and get some good touches on the ball and I continued to feel good. I also continued to tire out and was ready for the end of the game. But I was proud of my ability to overcome the pain of tight muscles, I was grateful for the invitation to join this team, and I was reminded once again of how much I truly love soccer. I get distracted by my latest exercise obsessions, which I really enjoy and am happy about, but my heart will always be with soccer. Before I was a runner or a cyclist or a skier, I was a soccer player. It was always my identity and maybe it still is.
And now that my legs aren't in so much pain, I can intensify my life and start biking to and from my games in Northeast Washington DC.