Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Run the Mile Day was always the worst day in Gym Class, which is saying something because me and Gym Class didn't have very many good days. I dreaded Spring and the onset of “Presidential Fitness” season. Pretty much my whole relationship with the President from ages 10-18 was a seething resentment of his fitness tests, with the mile being the absolute worst. I remember exactly one of my “mile” times from High School, 18 minutes. I “ran” that 18 minute mile in electric blue Doc Marten boots, which I had convinced my gym teacher that year (one of the few that seemed mildly sympathetic to my plight as a hater of gym class) that they had good arch support and non-marking soles, which meant that they met the minimum requirement for gym shoes. They also weighed about 3 pounds apiece.
My brief experiences with running were so negative that for most of my life the words “me” and “run” could not exist in the same sentence unless it read something like this “I hope that nothing deadly ever tries to chase me because I don’t run.” I couldn’t escape from it though. I was surrounded by people who not only ran, but seemed honestly to enjoy it. I found myself frequently surrounded by super fit mega-athletes while I knit by the sidelines waiting for my life-partner to finish whatever running event he had signed up for. I found myself doing crazy things like scrubbing mud out of running shoes and then strapping them to the roof of our truck so that they might possibly be dry when I had to meet up with him at the 30 mile aid station during his latest ultra-marathon. Instead of feeling like the awkward, unskilled teenager in gym class I found that I was just one more member of a crowd of people who were out enjoying themselves.
The super weird thing is that they all seemed to think I belonged there too.
About 7 years ago I was camping with my family up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan. Manimal (my husbeast)and his eight year old daughter were participating in a two day, three race running festival and I was along for the ride. One of the events was a uphill 5K, where the finishing line was on the top of a mountain (a Michigan mountain…so you know, a big hill), and Isis was going to run with her Dad so I figured that if I walked I could meet them at the top and we could hike down together. This was a small festival, and most of the people running were of the super-fit variety. There were a few spouses doing the same thing I was, but I was definitely the last person on the trail. Not halfway up the mountain I met the front runners (who had just sprinted up a mountain and were now jogging back down, just for fun). I remember the first person to pass me. He had a short beard, long hair, a baseball cap to keep the sun out of his eyes, very typical “trail runner,” looking dude. “Hey good job!” he called out as he passed me. He was long gone before I could correct his misconception. He thought I was in the same race he was! Silly running man, can’t he use his eyes and see that I am OBVIOUSLY not a runner? The second runner passed me a few minutes later “Looking good! You’re almost there!” he called as he passed me. Silly, silly runner man. I almost called out to him “No! You’ve got the wrong idea. I’m just meeting my boyfriend up at the top of the hill, I’m not running this race!” but of course he was out of earshot. The third runner passed me “Way to go!”
What are the chances that these three super runners who had just run.up.a.damn.mountain could possibly all make the same ridiculous mistake? They know what a runner looks like don’t they? How could they possibly assume that I’m running the same race they are? I’m WALKING obviously and am so far behind everyone else. I’m just out for a stroll in the woods. Silly runner dudes. Except….wait…I am on the same trail that they just ran on. I am going to end up in the same place that they just did….and then I’ll come back down again, just like they did. So…huh…I guess I am KIND OF doing the same thing that they are. That’s weird. And…who would know what another runner looks like better than another runner? If they have made the mistake of assuming that I’m in the same race as they are, then maybe….I am in the same race that they are?
The seed had been planted.
The next week I tried to run around one of our local nature centers…and it pretty much sucked. My mouth dried out. My legs hurt. I got kind of dizzy….but I kept on doing it a couple of times a week until I force myself through two grueling 13 minute miles. I got pregnant that fall. For medical reasons I was told to knock it off with the high-impact exercise while I was carrying the baby, and then I found that life with a newborn was crazy and complicated…and became pregnant with my second and third in fairly quick succession and all in all it was six years before I could “get back” to running.
I had a much greater success with my new found identify as “A person who can run if she wants to,” the second time around. For one thing I knew I could do it, and for another I started slow and let myself build up to it, starting with short intervals and building up my endurance gradually. Shocked I found that I was enjoying myself. It was still a long time before I could say the sentence “I’m a runner,” without some sort of qualifier like “I’m a KIND of a runner,” or “I’m TRYING to be a runner,” or “I’m a very SLOW runner.”
(Stacia and I on the Beach after the Legend 5 mile)
I ran my first post-baby intervals in March of 2012, when my daughter was 6 months old. Since then I have run countless 5ks, 2 (or 3?) 10ks, 6 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I also started a “club” called “The Warrior Goddess Training Academy” for women who want some support to accomplish their fitness goals, which now has over 330 members all over the country. That club was started a year ago today. Happy Anniversary my Badass Warrior Goddesses. You are all amazing and inspire me everyday.
(Holding 80 pounds of children wearing my medal from my first half marathon and my first marathon)