For almost a year, Robb and I went to the gym and I walked on the treadmill or rode the bike. I saw people run on the treadmill but I did not. I might have tried it once, but I ended up pulling out my earbuds and getting tangled up and accidentally hitting the stop button and losing all the numbers that tell me if I'm doing anything or more importantly, when I can stop.
But in January, I started running.
The last time I ran, I was wearing red and white saddle shoes and pleated coulotte skirts... for high school cheerleading. Twenty years ago. Twenty.
I cannot tell you what made me start. I don't think I had a plan. What I did have was a growing muffin top and a lot of pants I couldn't button. It was like my body was saying, 'Hey, Girl, you are almost 40. Might as well just save everything you've got to make sitting more cushioned."
There are other people in the gym when I run. Most of the time the giant man who lifts a weight and then looks in the mirror at himself is there. Sometimes the short Hispanic man with the Tom Selleck mustache and one leg longer than the other one is there. Occasionally the one I refer to as "Thudenly Thuthan" is there. He looks exactly like Nestor Carbonell except he is all muscle-y and seems to need someone to tell him "Dude. You are done. You don't need to go the gym anymore." There is also a middle aged woman who runs better, longer and faster than me. And a handful of other women I can outrun. (Because that's pretty much how women categorize other women they don't know...can I take her or no?)
Anyway, it's taken almost 40 years for this girl to be ok about other people seeing her run. When you grow up as a fundamentalist Christian, inhabiting a body is a little bit embarrassing. Inhabiting a pretty nice female body is almost shameful. It takes a long time to be ok with it. Sadly, by the time you do get to be ok with it, you really wished you had taken some pictures of the body you USED to have and you wish you hadn't dressed it in old lady clothes during the years when you were most definitely NOT an old lady. Now it's too late and the most important quality in a shirt is "will it cover my bum?"
Are you starting to get the gist of how miraculous my running is? I know other people do it. I read about you on Facebook. For a long time I thought, "You are crazy." I'd see people jogging around my neighborhood and openly make fun of them. Audibly mocking them. Now I whisper a little "Good for you, Dude." or a "Hey, at least you are trying."
I think I am running because in January, I started to understand that I wanted to go somewhere. I wanted to go and I didn't want to have to wait for someone else to drive me. I wanted speed. Exhilaration. I wanted to be fully engaged. Focused. And I am only competing with myself. So many of the things I do, I have to wait for a customer to help make me successful. With running, my success is up to me. On Friday, I had a lousy run. Couldn't get a rhythm. Didn't stretch well enough or something. Calf cramps. Whatever. But Monday was my best run yet. I ran for 15 minutes without stopping to walk. It was about a mile and a half. I walked for a bit and then sprinted for the last minute. I know that's nothing. I know other people run marathons. But for me...this is big.
And I am loving it. It's bizarre, but I feel myself "craving" a run. I don't know how else to describe it. I find myself thinking about it at other times of the day. Looking forward to those mornings. Planning for my run.
Maybe I will lose my love for it. Maybe I will get hurt and have to stop because I make some rookie mistake. Maybe I am doing it all wrong. I'd welcome some good advice, but I'm not going to google it because there's too much crazy stuff out there and I don't know who to trust. Shoot, I read somewhere that you shouldn't eat breakfast before working out and that caused me to balloon to what I weighed when I was 7 months pregnant. Not cool. So I went back to roll out of bed, eat some breakfast, take kids to school, go to gym. So, successful runners, give me your best info. I am listening.
For now, this is something I am doing and learning. It makes me feel more alive. It's a good example for my kids. It's good for my body and my mind. So I'm running. Because if I can turn into a runner, who knows what else I can do?