I recently whittled down my workout wardrobe. Out went the over-stretched sports bras—my boobs, deflated from breastfeeding three bambinos, deserve better. Bye-bye to the few remaining pairs of running shorts I had from, oh, 2004—as you probably know, I’m now a skirts-or-capris-only gal. And formerly white or bright sweat-stained tops got the heave-ho. I dug deeper, unearthing a motherload of unitards. No, not leftovers from my Step-classes-at-the-Y days, but one-piece garments that are tanks on top, fitted shorts on the bottom and worn for rowing.
The rattiest of the five unitards has almost attained “relic” status, being from the summer of 1992. Its white top, slashed with a navy banner like a pageant sash draped across the shoulder, bears the crest of the oldest boat club in the U.S., Union Boat Club, where I’d been a summer member the first two years I lived in Boston. Its overly shiny black shorts, which had always reminded me Lycra is a petroleum-based product, wouldn’t even do Giselle Bundchen’s butt any favors. Then there’s the Marin Rowing Association unitard that made my heart swell with pride, thinking about the glorious races that had been won while wearing it. Two other “unis,” ones I’d worn regularly at Marin practices, were stained with salt—from my sweat as well as spray from the San Francisco Bay.
Then there’s the newest uni, the badass black-and-grey one from Portland Women’s Rowing, the club I rowed with in 2008 and 2009. It looks nearly new as I only raced a dozen or so times with the team. Looking at the five unitards, I had an epiphany: It was time to toss ’em. I stopped rowing nearly 18 months ago and, except for missing a few of my rowing buddies, I haven’t looked back.
After taking up rowing in college, I’d proudly thought of myself as a “rower,” even when I took a nearly decade-long hiatus from the sport after moving to Portland and starting a family. If someone asked, I was “a rower who runs.” But while the stretchy unitards still fit me, that definition doesn’t anymore. I’m not even “a runner who rows.” Nope, I’m a runner, pure and simple.
So I packed up all but the Marin unitard (I’m too sentimental to get rid of it) and handed them down to Kendall, a bright, spirited high schooler I know who rows with a local club. She’ll get years more wear out of them—and now I have more room in my drawers for fresh sports bras and running skirts.