Hail, to The Underdog!

My cousin, Eddie Guardado, pitched no-hitters in his high school baseball games. He went on to have a successful career as a left-handed pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. His older brother was also a great ballplayer, who could have and should have made it to the Major Leagues. His twin sisters, were known fighters. Not boxers, but fist fighters, long before Ultimate Fighting Championship was a thing. And to be a good fighter, whether in a boxing ring or in the high school parking lot, one has to have a certain athletic ability. The Guardados, in Stockton, California, made our surname synonymous with athleticism. Guardados are athletes, like The Baldwins are actors. Yet, this Guardado, Julie, did not play any sports; she played flute in the high school marching band.

The Guardado that's not afraid of the ball that made it to the Big Leagues.

The Guardado that's not afraid of the ball that made it to the Big Leagues.

The Guardado that's afraid of the ball, posing with her Big Hair & flute, 1994

The Guardado that's afraid of the ball, posing with her Big Hair & flute, 1994

I have never been athletic. I'm afraid of the ball. And despite being The Guardado Underdog, I like trying activities that could possibly help me shed a few pounds, feel accomplished, and tone my body. I don't have any aspiration to break records or obtain good looking stats. Like Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty says the day he takes up running, "I just want to look good naked." That's me.

I gave up the gym and CrossFit years ago. However, I recently learned to swim, I participated in my second ballet recital, and my boyfriend bought me a FitBit that has helped me get moving. These past two weeks I brought all these events to a peak.


Every June, the teacher of my adult ballet class puts together a recital, where her 3 to 60 year old students can show off their ballet skills to family and friends. Last year, I had a blast! This year, not so much.

A few of the women from Level I class have moved up to Ballet III class. One woman, literally begged the teacher to let her move up; she was confident she was ready. I sensed hesitation in the teacher's approval, but hey, it's adult ballet, what harm could come of it? Immediately after this twinkle toes advancement, moving from the beginning ballet barre exercises to hanging out with the better dancers, a few of these women became downright nasty. 

The camaraderie and encouragement that the 30-50 year olds gave each other was replaced with eye rolling, snickering, and attitudes. One dancer quit the recital altogether. We texted the night she decided she'd had enough. She, too, felt that a few of the women had turned to bad apples disguised in soft, flowing dance attire. She said "It's suppose to be fun. They've lost perspective. It's all so intense. I want to scream It's amateur hour!"  We agreed they were Type A personalities who needed perfection. One girl, who took it upon herself to point out everyone's errors, failed to see she danced hunchbacked and quite often was on the wrong foot. 

I don't mind people wanting to be the best they can be, for themselves. But I find it disheartening when they try to impose it on others in a rude, non-constructive manner. I'm a Type B personality. I don't need perfection, I need the experience, just for the sake of having the experience.

I invited my boyfriend, my aunt, mom and stepdad to the recital. A part of me felt guilty that my family would drive so far to watch my mediocre performance. The good thing was that there were two incredible ballerinas (who happen to be very kind!) and they would be worth the drive! I gave disclaimers to those invited: Please don't judge the entire Art of Ballet by my recital. I'm not very good, but I have fun doing it. 

The night prior to the recital, rehearsal was fiercer than Joffrey Ballet auditions as we practiced final bows. Certain ballerinas needed center stage and multiple final bows. I didn't know such order and hierarchy existed in final bows, but it does. Another adult ballerina laughed at their elevated sense of importance and said it perfectly, "They wouldn't be good enough to be an extra sweeping in the background of Cinderella." Yet, here at our $11 per ballet class for adults, they had the nerve to point out the mistakes of others, or at least let it be known they couldn't believe you've asked the teacher to reteach a combination.

And this was a reminder of what I hate about competition, why I would never make it in competitive sports. No sport, no adult ballet recital, was worth having to treat another person inappropriately. Is good sportsmanship a thing of the past? The Type A personalities ruin the experience for the Type Bs; the Type As probably think the Type Bs ruin the entire performance. Perhaps both are a bit true. 

I look at my ballet slippers and love how they are dirty and "used". They are symbolic of the enjoyment I've had learning ballet and the hard work I've done in them, despite the imperfections.

Swim, Bike, Run

My ballet recital fell on the same day as a Try for Fun Mini Triathlon that my boyfriend and I planned to do. The Triathlon would be a 200 yard swim, 4 mile bike ride and 1 mile run. Our plan was to do the triathlon, rush me back home and get me to the ballet recital hall two hours prior to the performance. The ballet rehearsal the night before ran late (due to the train wreck final bows). 

We needed to be up at 5:30 am to drive an hour out to Rancho Seco Lake. It was now 1 am. I was still digesting my heavy carb dinner when my boyfriend came up with a better idea: Let's do our own mini triathlon tomorrow so we can sleep in.  

This is what happens when two Type B Personalities get together. You get things done, but just with a modified plan of attack. We calculated we could sleep 6.5 hours, wake up refreshed, ride our bikes 5 miles to the pool, jump in for a 200 yard swim, ride back another 5 miles, and then do a 1 mile run (time permitting). And to be fair, this plan was physically more demanding than the intended triathlon. I said Sounds good to me!

Seven hours after that pillow talk, we hopped on our bikes and made it to the pool within half an hour (I'm a cruiser, not a speed racer). I threw on my goggles and swim cap, looked at the digital clock and swam 200 yards. My boyfriend, a Navy Man, a jumper-out-of-helicopters into the ocean, a certified scuba diver, a sailing enthusiast, entered the pool after me and finished his 200 yards before me. He was dried off by the time I exited. Yet, I swum my personal best: 6 minutes 8 seconds. I was pumped! Those swim lessons were worth every cent!

We headed back home on our bikes, taking the scenic trail. I leisurely cycled passed the park to watch the Black Phoebe birds. By the time we reached home there was no time for our 1 mile run and my planned donut shop trip. We had to choose one or the other: A run or donuts. And you guessed right, we drove to the donut shop. I needed to try the Bacon Maple Classic Donut a ballet classmate recommended.

Late that night, after the recital, we took a 2 mile walk and said "Wasn't it a great day of movement together?" We thoroughly enjoyed our modified "athletic" day.

The FitBit Badge: Blue Suede Shoes

Newton's First Law of Motion states: An object as rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion... My FitBit is keeping me in motion. For every 5,000 steps a badge is earned. And when I learned 60,000 steps in one day badge was named Blue Suede Shoes, I knew I had to earn it. This can be viewed as either a pro or con to being a crazy Elvis fan. 

On July 4, I started my 60,000 step journey. Nothing says "freedom" like having the health and ability to walk wherever you'd like. I walked 14 miles, or 35,000 steps, that morning. My boyfriend FaceTimed me from Memphis, where he was working, to encourage me and call me crazy at the same time. I made two bathroom and food/caffeine stops, both at Starbucks.

What does one do while walking for five hours? I listened to the Podcast called Strangers. I must have looked like a lunatic. Story after story on Strangers either made me laugh out loud or weep. I lost track of time and felt pretty good when I got home. I ate a huge lunch and rested for three hours. I then hit the pavement of Elk Grove once again.

My boyfriend texted me twice the same message: You're going to be so sore tomorrow.  

I didn't care, I wanted this badge. I never had a tennis trophy to place on a mantle, but I would have this badge pop up on my iPhone! Perhaps, my competitive Guardado blood was coming alive. I needed 10 more miles, 25,000 more steps before midnight. 

I listened to a few more Strangers Podcast and then some Elvis tunes. If you're gonna attempt a badge named after one of his songs, you gotta listen to the man. And it worked. I admit, those last 2 miles, I dragged. I reminded myself that in the race between the Hare and the Turtle, the Turtle won. I would win this badge, even at a turtle pace.

By 6:40pm that evening I hit 60,000 steps. I cursed the damn person that chose to name FitBit's 60,000 steps Blue Suede Shoes, but I did it!

Thank you, Size 5 Feet, for getting me to my goal: 60,000 steps in one day!

Thank you, Size 5 Feet, for getting me to my goal: 60,000 steps in one day!

Once home, I ate Chocolate Fudge gelato, downed a few Tylenol & Motrin, took a hot bubble bath  and slept like baby.

Aaah, sigh.

Aaah, sigh.

I may not be on any sport team, but I'm no couch potato. I know how to have fun with the the ability I do have and I don't take myself too seriously. Perhaps when it comes to sports I may be too relaxed.  In the end, it's the underdogs that remain the element of surprise in real competitions. I say Hail, to all The Underdogs out there. Now about me, you can say or do anything, but don't you step on my Blue Suede Shoes.

Oh, Elvis, why do make me competitive like this?

Oh, Elvis, why do make me competitive like this?