Louisville Medicine Volume 70, Issue 3 - Page 6


Finding My Inner Athlete

Mabuhay !* On one of my recent runs , I was thinking about this month ’ s issue and trying to distract my mind from the initial thoughts I have when I start an early morning run on a humid summer morning . Mainly , these thoughts were telling me that I ’ m crazy and that I should still be sleeping . Nevertheless , I kept moving until the thoughts disappeared and I began to enjoy the scenery around me . It also helped that the aching in my feet finally wore off too . Afterwards , I went into the house and looked into the mirror at my sweaty , tired face . It was not exactly the picture of an athlete .

Growing up , I always pictured athletes to be strong , muscular and tall men who were not just great , but exceptional in their sport . Back then , being an athlete was something I could never be . After all , I was raised to believe that Asian women are supposed to be dainty and graceful and never sweat . Though I danced ballet , I did not consider ballet dancers to be athletes . Back then , athletes graced the covers of Sports Illustrated or were revered on Friday night football clips on the news . Back then , athletes did not look like me .
So , I sat , literally sat , on the sidelines for many years . I watched my high school classmates at my all-girls high school try out for the new soccer team that was forming . I remember thinking that would be cool because I liked playing soccer in physical education class , but after the look on my parents ’ faces when I talked about it , I knew that wouldn ’ t happen . I started working out in college with my friends to fend off the Freshman 15 . I did one year of crew in college , but I was recruited as the coxswain because I was small , not because I was anywhere close to being athletic .
Everything changed when I met my husband , Matthew . Matthew has always been athletic , and in those early years of our relationship , I really wanted to impress him . So , when he said he wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro after we got married , I said yes , and we did . I won ’ t go into the embarrassing details of how I prepared or how I made it up and down the mountain , but that trip changed my life . From that point on , it changed from all the things that I couldn ’ t do to all the things I can do . That the limiting factor in my athleticism were not my parents , my upbringing or my culture : it was me .
When we returned from Mount Kilimanjaro , I picked up running . That was in 2007 , and I continue to run . I ’ m not the fastest and definitely not the best , and I am okay with that . I love running marathons and half-marathons , not because I want to compete with others , but because I want to compete with myself , to push myself to be better and learn when I make mistakes . The medal at the end is cool , too , and great to look at when I need motivation .
After these many years of running marathons and doing triathlons , I have also met and seen all types of people out there - women and men , all body types , and even Filipino women like me . Everyone out there , finding their inner athlete , pushing through limits .
This month ’ s issue is about athletes in medicine , and not the people I pictured when I was young . Whether you are the seasoned athlete , the weekend warrior , the athlete currently on a break , or just trying to figure out where to start , I hope this issue inspires you to find your inner athlete . As physicians , we always want to be the best in our field , but sometimes , you just have to enjoy your sport , whatever that may be . In the end , the only one limiting you is you .
So , for my next challenge , I promised my son Brandon that I would take up taekwondo with him if he ever got his black belt . I made that promise four years ago , not really convinced he would see it through , but sure enough , he just got his black belt . So , a promise is a promise , and it looks like I may be on the taekwondo mats as a white belt soon . You all are welcome to join me . I just have to complete my fall marathon first .
Mabuhay is a Filipino greeting meaning “ long life .”
Dr . Briones-Pryor is the Medical Director for the Hospital Medicine Service Line for UofL Health and is the Chief Medical Officer for UofL Health Shelbyville Hospital .