Back in January, I started my throwing season early. Five months early! I had heard about the Key West Games, that they were “all that, and more!” and felt the need to give it a try. I was a bit nervous about flying to Florida with the new immigration and travel rules, especially since I was travelling with Juan, my trusty pitchfork. I was fortunate that I didn’t run into problems, and that my pitchfork is legitimately considered sporting equipment so I was able to check it with little fanfare.
I don’t have a lot of girlfriends, and definitely don’t do the stereotypical girlfriend things, so when I had the opportunity to join my friend Kathy on this trip, I jumped at the chance. We flew together, rented a car and drove out to Marathon and spent the day before competition sight-seeing. We flew in Thursday and flew home Sunday, so it was quick, but we made the best of our time. As part of our play day, we stopped at a beach, where Kathy taught me some new footwork for throwing the stone. I was able to find an extremely non-aero-dynamic brick to practice with and worked it over for a half-hour. The new technique felt more comfortable than my previous and my throw immediately looked better, even if the distance wasn’t greatly increased.
Our competition was a women’s only field. This is a bit unusual, because the games are often focused on professional men, with masters, amateurs and women taking the back seat. We have our share of fans, but the sponsors and festivals are generally paying the pros to come in, and the rest of us pay our own way. We actually had a large enough group of women, we were able to break into 2 groups: open and masters. Throwing with women closer to my own age was also nice as I was a little more competitive than when throwing against university athletes younger than my child. The crowd loved having us there and I may even have made it into one of the Florida newspapers.
As per usual, this group of women were fantastic. Most of them were strangers to me when I arrived, and they were very welcoming and made me feel like we were old friends in no time. I connected with several on Facebook, so have been able to follow their adventures every weekend over the last 3 months. If I had unlimited time, energy and money, I would have happily joined them a few more times.
As the Florida season seems to be wrapping up, mine in Ontario is just getting started. We’re getting ready to schedule practices and I’ve managed to get myself into some early games, including flying out to Victoria, BC for a master’s competition in May. As my season is ramping up so is my work travel, so I’m looking at ways to squeeze in as many practices as possible over the next couple of months. It seems weird that at 49 I’m still improving my game – but am excited and grateful I can do it. The early start has me itching to get the equipment out and start practicing. I’m thinking Florida was the kick start I needed this year!
Sandi is a feminist in the throes of what some would call her mid-life crisis, having gone from exercising only her mind to lifting weights and throwing heavy objects. Her natural curiosity and need to know everything serves her well in a career in research as well as all things health, science and well…life really.