Friday, June 10, 2011

If I Can Do It. . . .Anyone Can

In junior high school I hated Mondays. For all of the usual reasons, the ones I still have today as an adult--the weekend is over, getting up early, etc--but mostly because on Mondays we ran the Short Course. The Short Course was a 3/4 of a mile run that the gym department at my junior high developed so that they could humiliate and torture teenagers in a legal way. Every Monday for three years we all put on ill fitting bright purple t-shirts and short shorts and trudged this course. The athletes and stars loved it and bolted around the thing like their heels were one fire. The rest of us lumbered along red-faced and sweating and just enduring it. Some really unfortunate people struggled even more and had the humiliating honor of being last.

It made me hate running. Hate sweating. Hate gym teachers who wore spandex shorts for a living. In three years no one instructed any of us on improving our times or taught us how to run better. We all learned to just slack off for the first couple of months so that our times would "improve" so we would pass. Most of us actually got slower by ninth grade as our hatred of the stupid thing made running it even more difficult.

After junior high I never ran again. A base or two playing softball. Awkwardly across the street as to avoid being hit by a bus. I made jokes about not even running from a serial killer. Even thinking about running made me remember the shame of being slow, of not being able to breathe. Made me hear the yelling and belittling voices of those teachers.

But around Seattle everyone runs. Everyone. That grandma at the grocery store? Her too. And it seemed a couple of years that basically everyone I knew was training for a 5K or had just run a 5K or was considering a half marathon. And I wondered what their problems were. Didn't they know that running was embarrassing and painful and horrible in every way? Still, I bookmarked the Couch to 5K program three years ago. I had baby weight to lose and maybe that would help.

Oddly bookmarking a running program on the internet doesn't make you lose weight. PRO TIP.

A few months ago my friend L started squeeing about running. She had been a couch potato before this (though we went to junior high together so I knew about her secret jock past) so this was a big turn around. She couldn't stop talking about it. She would just gush about running and doing races and well it made me think. Mostly that aliens had taken over her brain. But also that if a slacker like L, admittedly one with a much more athletic background than mine, could do it. Maybe I could too?

Then she started pressuring me to do the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure 5K. Our friend T, a breast cancer survivor was doing it. It would be fun! etc. And I agreed. But still I didn't do anything.

Finally, less than a month before the race, I had a panic attack thinking about how I would run three miles when I had never once run more than one. And that was around 18 years ago. I was going to die a gasping death from cardiovascular activity.

I dusted off the Couch to 5K program and got going. At first it was awful. Running one minute was SO HARD. Couch to 5K is designed to take couch potatoes like me from nothing to running a 5K in about nine weeks. I had three. So instead of three times a week, I ran every day (one rest day per week). But it was amazing how the intervals got easier, how I went farther each day. And I found myself enjoying it. I mean, running sucks, it isn't fun at all. And yet it was time each day when I wasn't strapped to email, I wasn't working, I wasn't commuting, I wasn't caring for my three year old or doing laundry. It was just me and my head and the Ipod.

I had to get up early, at 4:15, to do my runs. But day after day I kept doing them. I bought running leggings and a real (scary) sports bra. I started using a GPS tracker to chart my mileage. I just kept going. I wasn't running to lose weight or for any good reason at all. I was mainly running because I had been telling myself for a long time that I couldn't and I really just needed to do it.

I am by nature a quitter. At least when it comes to physical stuff. Give me a work problem and I will puzzle that shit out but make me try something physically hard and I will give you so many reasons I can't do it. I will quit early and often. It is something I hate about myself.

Last week I ran the Susan B. Komen. I ran it at a snail's pace and didn't do it as fast as I wanted (mother fucking hills). But I finished. 3.3 miles, the farthest I ever ran. I was so proud of myself, amazed at myself. Because my feet swelled up Saturday like little basketballs. I had a major gastrointestinal event that morning that I will spare you the details of. I had lots of reasons to quit. Good reasons to quit. But I didn't. I didn't run fast or well but I did run it.

And then I did something even more amazing. Not the next day but the day after. I got up at 4, laced up my shoes and started running again. And registered for my next 5K next month. Where I am going to KILL my time.

And I kind of want to kick the shit out of some gym teachers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so awesome and inspiring, really.