Run

In the spring of 2012 I started having dreams that I was running. They were fun and floaty and definitely recurring.  One cold day that spring, after feeling particularly pissy, I strapped on some weathered tennis shoes, long johns under faded yoga pants, a heavy winter coat and I ran. I hadn’t run since 2001 when I fell in love with (and bought) a wedding dress that was 2 sizes too small for me.

I think I only made it a mile that day. Actually, I may have only made it 500 yards before walking. But since then, I run. I run haphazardly. I run messy. I do not train properly. I do not run for weight loss or muscle gain. I run for stress relief. I run to music because it makes me feel like I’m in a music video. I don’t call myself a runner. But I run enough to say I run.

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I find myself signing up for a few organized runs. They hold me accountable and help me set goals. They give me a sense of team I was never on before. I never thought myself competitive, but I find myself pushing to pass the person in front of me. To shake the one breathing behind me. Of course, this all goes down in the mid-to-back section of the pack. The winner is already calmly eating orange slices and shooting the shit with race organizers by the time I plan my big move to overtake the elderly woman in Converse high tops. But oh, it’s on Converse High Tops, it’s on. You best shuffle aside.

Actually, it always amazes me who I can pass. And it amazes me who passes me. Incidentally, weight, body shape and amount of shiny, expensive gear are not always true indicators of genuine fitness.

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A temporary RAD tattoo and a rainbow tutu are actually the sign of genuine fitness.

I find myself, for the first time in our lives, running with my sister. I still feel the one-sided sibling rivalry (created completely by me) as my sister yaps away chirpily on our trail runs while I silently question if she’d finish her run before calling Medflight to lift me out of her back forty after my imminent cardiac arrest. Why I’m even surprised she’s doing so well after a long running hiatus surprises me. She did, after all, go to state with the high school track team. I was in it for the gossip and the Jello powder straight out of the packet for “quick energy”. Needless to say, I lasted one season.

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The fierce trio proudly displays their brawn and the free coffee mug giveaway.

I have never been disciplined at any sport. Even now, I do not often feel like I am actually running. Most of the times I feel like I am heaving, lurching, plodding, clodhopping, huffing, puffing and truly struggling. Most of the time I am reminding myself that the sensation I seek comes after the run, not during it.

But there’s always the moment. A sense of flying. A moment, even more, of crystal clear focus on the road or scenery or my breath, and I feel IT.  A runner’s high, a sense of pride, a physiological reaction, I don’t care to analyze IT.  IT is why I run. IT brings me back. IT makes me a better mom, wife, sister, co-worker. IT makes me a better human being.

A better human being.

A better human being.

Cliche, I know, but true. Take it from someone who used to run solely for Jello powder. I’ve never had IT before and now I do.

IT is that moment where I am pleased at what I CAN do. IT brings me confidence. It brings me pride, not envy, when my sister breaks away on the trail run to challenge herself. I don’t want her to hold my hand. I want her to place in her age group. She is not my competition, she is my role model.

And what’s this? Trail running? Fear of hills, tree roots and holes instead of speeding cars and icky, rusty vans with tinted windows? Running in nature, the only place where I actually feel religion? I feel more trail running in my future.

Asphalt or trail. You decide.

Asphalt or trail. You decide.

I’d like to hear if you ever feel IT with any activity. How do you keep IT going?

Ride

Have you ever stopped yourself from doing something because you couldn’t do it “correctly”? Because you didn’t have the proper equipment? Because you were afraid you would look like a fool?

Well, stop THAT.

This summer, I reintroduced myself to my used bike and started sweating up and down our country roads. I am far from well-equipped The gears make funny noises when I shift and I’m a little leery of the brakes. And yes, I look like a complete fool thank you very much, poured into my little black shorts, sportin’ my bright yellow Piggly Wiggly t-shirt. But drivers can SEE yellow. And I’m hoping my pig’s ass brings a little levity to their day:

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I write more in-depth about the experience at Eco Snobbery Sucks.  The founder/editor-in-chief is a “cyclist”. I’m just a gal goin’ for a bike ride.

But these li’l old bike rides bring me clarity and some damn nice scenery…and damn nice scenery always awakens my perspective. It’s just constant rebirth and singing angels out there on County J.

No, not really. I’m seriously red and blotchy. And sometimes I suck wind HARD and feel like vomiting.

BUT…be the fool and start that activity. Start clumsy. People are too busy to stop their own monkey mind just to point and laugh at you – the only one judging your awkward start is you. Don’t wait for the perfect gear or equipment, start with what you’ve got. Go as far as the mailbox. Go around the block. Go one mile. Go ten.

Go. Go. Go.

photo by snowbear/morguefile

Motivate

Sign #1 – I was chatting with one of my sister-in-laws (I have a virtual harem of sister-in-laws). We’ll call this one “Pants”. (Because sometimes I do.) Pants was in particularly bright spirits. Late in our conversation, she shares that she’s working out up to four times a week and has focused more closely on what she eats. As a result, she dropped 25 lbs. Boast on, Pants, boast on. You’ve earned some serious bragging rights.  

She added, “I don’t know what made me finally do it this time. I think because I’m doing it with Scoots (We’ll call her husband “Scoots”. Because sometimes we do). Turns out Scoots and Pants eased up on their normal routine to make time for workouts and engage in a little healthy, marital competition. They are now seeking 5k and 10k runs as goals.

I have endorphin envy. I want in. I selfishly bring the focus back to me, “I gotta get back at it.”  

Sign #2 – I prepare my “Honey, we need to get back at it” motivational speech for my betrothed. I plan to do it over our morning coffee when he’s in his happy place. But the first thing he spits out as he walks through the door after work is “Hey, the Crazy Legs run is April 30th. We should do it together. I want to start running again, or something.” I give him a suspicious stare. “Did you just talk to Pants?!” No.

So we set a goal. It’s cheaper than the $30/person race, and more warm turkeyish. I’m a fan of the realistic goal. I fully acknowledge that it will take longer than a month to get these atrophied cheeks running an 8k.      

Sign #3 – I roam the aisles of athletic footwear, absolutely dumbfounded by what the hell could be the significant difference between the $50 and the $100 shoe? I end the epic journey at the clearance rack. Enter right the sales clerk who I blew off earlier with my cool “just looking” attitude. Quit pushing me, lady, I can handle this. After establishing my lone wolf status for an idiotically long time, spidey senses keenly aware that our 8 yr. old has reached his adult shoe shopping limit, I accept her help. I’m wearing a pair of Nike Airs, holding a pair of New Balance, giving her some friendly shoe-themed bullshit to cover for my prior snub, when I hear a quiet “Whoa.” She hands me a pair of Saucony Hurricanes, valued at $100. “Very good shoes…” she adds, “…surprised to see them here.” Sweet, sweet baby jesus, they are marked at $30 until April 24th.

The clouds part. Lo, a beam of light shines directly upon the blessed Hurricane. It tenderly hugs my foot, a metatarsal’s guardian angel. Vivaldi’s Spring bursts from my arches.  

Three signs = Something bigger than myself truly wants me to address my current endorphin levels. And atrophied cheeks.    

Shopping Lessons learned: Always head to the clearance rack first. And unless they’re drooling and staring vacantly at the door, utilize the damn sales clerk.

Motivational Lessons learned: Grab vicarious sparks of motivation from the success of othes. Grab someone to join you. And…nothing motivates like a quality shoe on serious sale. 

So enough about me. What motivates you?