I think I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m a runner. Five or six years ago my sister started running. At first it made me super mad. Like how dare she get in shape and be skinnier than me.
*Pause for moment of recognition that I am a super competitive person unexplainably. At least once a week (day), Ray reminds me that whatever it is we’re doing at the time is not a competition. (It is, though. And, I win.)*
Then I was like, “Hey! I can run, too.” And, just like that, I started doing Couch to 5K. I figured I could do anything for one minute as the first few weeks you alternate from running a minute to walking a minute. I eased into it and it became addictive. Before I knew it I was running a mile, then two and three. By the end of C25K a fire was lit. I knew I could go farther. I had to go farther. By then my sister was running half marathons and that just would not do. I had to keep up.
It wasn’t long before I completed the C210K training program and was convinced I could keep going. I, too, could run a half marathon. My sister was my biggest cheerleader, of course. And, when my birthday came around that year, she signed me up for my first half. We’d do it together. We’d run like divas in the D.C. Wine Country Diva Half Marathon. I was terrified. I had already signed myself up for the Richmond Half Marathon (the one my sister had already mastered!), but that was a couple months after the Diva Half and I was scared I wouldn’t be ready. But, together, we did it.
*Pause for eye roll that my sister was four months pregnant when we ran the race.*
*Continued pause for eye-rolling that when I just texted her to remind myself how pregnant she was, she responded with a mathematical word problem to make my head explode.*
Since that time, I ran two more Richmond Half Marathons, two Cherry Blossom 10-Milers and one Crawling Crab Half. Mix in some 10Ks and call it a day. Somewhere along the line I overused my hip and could barely walk, fell down and skinned my knees at least 10 times including days before my wedding, and ended up in the ER because I ripped open two fingers on the sidewalk to the point where bones were exposed. I’ve hurdled snakes, startled deer, bunnies and birds. The places these feet have taken me never ceases to amaze me. When I’m on business trips, I make sure to go for a long run to ensure I see the sights my colleagues almost never do.
It’s exhausting and it takes commitment. The number of times I drag myself out of bed to run countless miles before it’s too hot is absurd. The number of times I’ve run in snow is ridiculous. The other day I was running in a torrential downpour. Two random men pulled over and asked me if I needed a ride. I thought to myself, “No thanks, murderer!” but instead just gave them a thumbs up and kept going. I enjoy the struggle and the back and forth Mother Nature sends my way. It’s an internal battle against elements outside of my control. Will I run in 109 degrees? Will I pass out? Will I keep going? I always keep going, even if I have to take a break. What can be more satisfying and validating than defying the odds? I can’t count the number of people who look at me and even call out to me, asking, “Doesn’t it bother you to be out in this heat?” Yes, it does, but I want to drink six to 16 glasses of wine later and I want to eat a burrito as big as my head, so here we are and off we go.
I’ve developed a few odd habits whilst running. I had shoulder surgery back in college and for whatever reason it makes me feel better to hold on to the hem of my shirt with my bad arm when I’m running. It’s not like my shoulder hurts at all. It’s a nervous tick. I’ve decided when I do this it could appear as though I’m keeping one hand on a concealed weapon in case some weirdo pops out or thinks about approaching me. The unfortunate news is that it’s just a bad habit and I’m not, as my uncle suggests, “Always strapped.”
I also tend to wipe my sweaty meatball face on my shirt. It always seems to happen when a car is going by and sweat drips from the rims of my sunglasses into my eyeballs temporarily blinding me. The only remedy is lifting my shirt, exposing my French bakery rolls and bouncing bits. I’m sure those people think I’m looking to get a honk, but the fact of the matter is I didn’t see them anyway as I was blinded and it seems perfectly normal to bury your face in your already soaked tank top while your neighbors make their way to Publix.
It’s well-established that my work uniform is pajamas and no bra. Yesterday my friend’s mom reminded me to remove the dead blooms from my rose bush to keep it blooming throughout the summer. What’s a girl to do upon impromptu gardening advice in the middle of the day? I popped out to the rose garden and sat down with some Friskers I stole from my mom ages ago and began clipping. It’s been unusually hot here the past week: 100 degrees in the shade, quite literally. So, I’m clipping away and the dripping begins. This time not in my eyes but down my stomach. That whole no bra thing is a real problem in the desert of my suburban backyard. I envy the gals who can wear no bra and have no boob sweat. My boobs have been sweating and suffering from Dunlap disease since circa 1997.
Not to be thwarted by Mother Nature, I reached down and wiped my face with my shirt and continued pruning. It took about two minutes to realize I was not on a run and therefore not adorned in spandex and sport bra. Sure hope my elderly neighbors liked the show.