I awake to my 49th Fourth of July. It’s 7:30 a.m. and already 71 degrees in Littleton, Colorado. I hop out of bed – secretly thrilled that I logged almost 8 hours of sleep and no one else is awake yet. The run this morning is going to be glorious. With no pressure to get back for work, I’m giddy as I start planning for my long run. First, what to wear?
In the pile of running clothes stacked in my closet, I notice my Superman top. Well, it’s actually the top half of a ‘Sexy Super Girl” costume that my 12-year-old son and daughter dared me to buy one Halloween – to run in. Feeling fit and brave at the time, I bought it but never wore it. I felt silly – like I didn’t deserve to wear it and people would know I was a fraud. So, it’s been pushed to the bottom of the pile time and time again.
But for some reason, today the Superman half-top has made its way to the top of the pile and I’m curious. So, I pull it over my head, examine myself, and think, “Who’s gonna’ see me? This could be fun.” As a spiritual person, I believe in God but I also believe in energy. In fact, I believe that everything has energy and it can be harnessed for pretty much anything you desire. At one time in my life, I designed women’s running clothes for this very reason. I truly believe in the energy that a person can get from the right clothing. You don’t have to own a lot of clothing, just the right pieces – pieces that make you feel confident or respected or approachable or unique. The Power Tie. The Perfect Little Black Dress. The Classic Coat. Sometimes, just dressing for the part can give you incredible power.
On this Independence Day, I am power dressing. Maybe I’ll run faster, farther, stronger. Or, maybe I’ll just feel happier.
Shoes laced perfectly, I tug my ponytail tighter through my ball cap and hit play on my Above and Beyond Pandora station. I stop and whisper out loud, “Nah, today deserves some Avenged Sevenfold radio.” Clicking up the volume, I’m off timing my footfalls to the bass guitar in the background. Immediately, though, I feel self-conscious about my clothing choice, but the negative thoughts quickly fade as my mind’s eye falls on my 16-year-old self.
When I was 16, I had to give up running due to injury. So I decided to train to become a competitive junior cyclist. When I entered the sport, I used the money that I had saved from my babysitting jobs to buy my first racing bike. I was so proud. I thought it was the Ferrari of all bikes, but in comparison to my cycling peers, my pink Miyata was more like a Ford Fiesta. After buying the bike and upgrading some of the parts, though, I didn’t have any money left to buy professional-grade cycling apparel like team jerseys, sleek sunglasses, brand-name shorts, and comfortable shoes. The result was a self-conscience teenage girl who often felt like the other racers really didn’t take her seriously because she didn’t look the part.
I was convinced that if I looked better and had better gear, I could pull it off – play the part better. Little did I know that summer, as I was boarding my flight to Belgium with my Nana, that my theory was about to be tested. It was July and the Tour de France was in full swing as I watched one of the stages with our European host. Realizing that I knew quite a bit about cycling, this 16-year old American girl and that 30-something attorney from Belgium finally bonded. It took yellow jerseys, time trials, road rash, and mountain switchbacks, but it happened.
As Nana and I said our goodbyes to our Belgian host-family, my Tour de France-watching friend handed me two very authentic-looking European cycling jerseys. He explained that they had once belonged to a professional Belgian road cyclist who had nothing left of value to pay his legal fees. The cyclist’s name was Ludo Loos and they were his team jerseys – one of which he had actually worn in the 1980 Tour de France when he won Stage 18. This was one of the most incredible gifts I had ever been given. I felt the energy from the moment I held the wool jerseys in my hands. I couldn’t even imagine what it was going to be like wearing them on my training rides.
Although many people would be aghast to know that I trained in these authentic jerseys every day for over three years, I did – with no regrets. When I wore them it was as if I was channeling the energy of a legend. As I cranked up the hills and tucked down the descents, I was now somehow akin to Ludo Loos – Belgian Tour de France racer. I was stronger. I had more courage. I had power. In my mind, I deserved to be on the road and competing with my fellow cyclists. In my heart, it was possible to become a legend. And today, on the trail, in my imagination, I am Superman.
With the right gear, the possibilities are beyond imagination.
(This post originally appeared on the blog site for a friend who is the president of gearmunk.com)