I asked my brother once if he would run a marathon barefoot for ten grand. He didn’t have a problem with the distance, he had a problem with the speed.
“Running,” He said, “Is like screaming. For emergencies only.”
My family is historically not athletic. One of my distant cousins threw shot put in the Junior Olympics, and all of us claim him and brag about him, because I’m pretty sure he’s the only recent example of athletic prowess in the entire family. When we were really little, my brother played some mediocre soccer and I played some very non-commital softball. If I had wanted to play sports in high school, I would have had to do some very awkward asking around to figure out how to get on the team, because I had no idea where the try-outs were, who the coaches were… in fact… I’m having a hard time remembering any of my PE teachers names. Show choir. That was my team sport.
Athletics was not only not a priority in my household, it would have been actually very weird if I had come home with like… knee pads and stuff and told them I was going to play on Friday. My mom would probably blink at me and then say, “Play… what? Trombone?”
“No, mom, a game. I auditioned for the volleyball team.”
“Honey, you don’t audition for sports. You try out.”
So you can imagine everyone’s surprise when I ended up marrying an athlete. Our first few dates were hockey games. I remember going shopping with my mom and saying, “What do people wear to hockey games?” And she said, “Something washable. There’s blood involved.”
So imagine my surprise, as the years have gone by, that I’ve taken kind of a passing interest in running.
Isn’t it kind of funny that, even as you get older, you’re still kind of held up by your childhood/adolescent perceptions of yourself? You get very comfortable in this little box that was built for you– I am a singer. I am a teacher. I like to watch movies and my favorite way to pass the time is to just chat. And running– like screaming– is for emergencies only.
But every spring I feel jealous of the people I see running on the trails as I drive past them on the way to get my large double shot latte with extra whip cream and chocolate shavings. You know– the girls are only wearing sports bras and the guys look like they’ve probably been running for 15 miles and show no signs of stopping– and they also have really beautiful dogs. Which is semi-unrelated.
To test out my ‘running legs’ about a year ago I went on a little jog with a friend of mine who runs. I didn’t do very well.
In fact. Wow.
But what was worse was the fact that she didn’t seem very surprised– in fact, it was almost like pity. That was worse than the fact that I couldn’t run, the fact that one of my best friends knew it, expected it, and was being inconvenienced by it.
Since then, it’s like I’ve been a closeted running researcher, or something. I read all kinds of information about shoes, different races, training schedules, what to eat, etc. I do all the prep, but none of the running– precisely because I didn’t want to see that look on anyone’s face ever again. That little half smile, that little, “Good try,” with a pat on the back.
So… a few weeks ago, I went for a run.
Guys, guys, guys, guys– I RAN. And it wasn’t even out of a burning building or anything– just in my neighborhood.
I got a little running club with some of my girlfriends, and we went for our first run last Tuesday. Well, sort of. It was raining and freezing cold. So only two of us showed up. We did about a mile and a half, I had to walk some– I let McKayla keep my pace for me by not letting her get any more than half a lap ahead of me, even while I was walking.
I’ve gone for about eight runs. My goal is three times a week, which never happens, but perchance to dream.
Last year I had to take a PE course. Lucky for me, I was seven months pregnant, so the instructor told me not to do anything strenuous. But there was this ONE exercise that he wanted me to do because it was kind of necessary– all I needed to do was get my heart rate up.
“Walk briskly around the block.” He suggested.
Guys. When I got back from that little walk I wasn’t just uncomfortable, I was pissed. I HATED the way my body felt when it was exercising. I was so angry I had to sit on the couch and like, eat donuts for ten minutes just to calm down.
So imagine my surprise when the hardest part of running, as it turns out, is walking out the door. Once I start running, its great. It’s GREAT.
Guys. I’M A RUNNER.