The cleats always click-clacked on the cement on the way to the car.
Shin guards clinging to my muscular but slender legs, the elastic pinched my calves and began a crescendo of dread that swelled until I cracked open a post-game soda.
Soccer was not my finest moment, but rather a chore I labored through for several childhood years. A swimmer's frame, I was solid and lean and preferred more aquatic athletic endeavors. My breaststroke and freestyle cut through the water with precision, my nine-year-old self already discovering the art of physical exertion and the benefits of rhythmic breathing.
Soccer, though? I pretty much hated it.
Don't get me wrong - the whole experience added to my mettle and I'm certain I will subject my future offspring to similar team building opportunities - but I really wasn't a fan of the dirt, the sweat and the blazing heat of summery Saturday games.
I still harbor a huge disdain for polyester thanks to the hideous gold shorts I was forced to wear during those soccer games.
My synapses must be fond of the old days, because they've glorified those games into memories of beautiful, kelly-green fields sprawled beneath an azure sky and the most puffy swath of clouds this side of Heaven. In play, I loved the protective instincts that ran through my veins - it was an urge that came with camaraderie, strategy and a kind of Lord of the Flies type of mania induced when children run around at full throttle.
And I did sometimes run around at full throttle.
All these years later, full throttle is reserved for only the most important occasions.
Those important occasions do not include any sort of exercise that requires a sports bra (actually, two) and running shoes.
The shoes don't tap and clack on the pavement like the cleats did back in the day, but they still manage to trigger a mental objective to which my body responds - it knows physical exertion is just around the corner or down the road. Some of my friends love exercise - their commitment to activity is akin to a drug user's reverent idol worship for his favorite drug.
I guess it's time for me to start mainlining cardio, too.
Tonight marks the start of a six week boot camp that I'm enrolling in with my friend, Heather. Heather's been on this trip before, and she's done a good job of convincing me I need to taste a little of the pain she endured during her first go-around.
Suicides. Running. Push ups.
None. Of. It. Sounds. Fun. At. All.
Thankfully I've started (semi) regularly walking around five miles every other day. My legs and ass have been reacting to all the moving around, and I'm sure they'll be none too pleased after tonight's hijinks.
I am certain I can stick with this - but I'll be kicking and screaming all the way to the end of the six weeks.
Who knows, maybe I'll be running regularly - and maybe even doing a bit of biking here and there, too.
But I'm sure as hell not wearing polyester.