The triathlon of life
As far as Hattie was concerned, swimming was going to be the easiest of this triumvirate, this triathlon of challenge that would make her sporty, beyond reproof. She knew that she had a touch of the old hubris picking ‘butterfly’ as her stroke. But ‘crawl’ and ‘breast stroke’ were such ugly words. If she was going to suffer and sink for the next year, she at least wanted to claim a smidgen of style.
So, she donned her goggles, and squeezed her body into an orange and black patterned swimsuit, and drowned herself, like a butterfly in chlorine, week after week.
Biking was next. Hattie’s lungs were ramped for it, having spent a year drowning. The rest was a mystery. Sure you never forget how to ride a bike, but what if you’ve never learned?
She gripped the handlebars until she had blisters. She pumped the pedals until her legs burned. She zigzagged across the road, like a butterfly on acid, week after week.
She nearly collided with many things – cars, dogs, children, lampposts. She did collide with many more – walls, gates, wheelie bins. But she survived. The skin on her shins grew back thicker. She was on her way to greatness.
Running made Hattie feel great – in theory. She felt the pull of bounding down a lane, parting the wind, cutting a dash. But in practice, running was a downward drilling of feet into tarmac, and trying to summon a force in your butt to push you up that hill.
It was sweaty, and panty, and unappealing. Her bones were heavy. Her fists throbbed. Never mind butterfly, she felt like a two-legged caterpillar wearing clogs.
So she chanted, over and over, as she ran, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
She was sporty. And now she’d punch anyone who disagreed.