Saturday, August 13, 2011

Running to Stand Still: Finale

When people find out that you run they might have any number of reactions. Here are some popular ones:
  • Why? Are you being chased by a bear/serial killer/dog/cop? Hahahahahaha!
  • That's terrible for your joints/knees/hips/ankles/boobs/reproductive organs/feet.
  • My cousin/brother/dad/neighbor/third grade teacher was a big runner until he/she got hit by a car/a bus/a bus hauling a horse trailer/lightning.
  • Well, okay, but that's still a LOT of cake for one person.
I could get indignant about these responses because, let's be honest, they're stupid and that last one is just judgmental. I like cake. It's hardly a mortal sin. Well, gluttony, but whatever. I could get indignant but I don't because before I started running I was one of those people.

I tend to be pretty skeptical in general. *Waits while people who know her make sarcastic asides* Of everything. In fact, I used to scoff, loudly, at people for going out of their way to see Niagara Falls. "Water falling down?", I'd sneer, "No thanks. None for me. Let me know when it starts falling up. Then I'll be there." Nice, huh? But, then I went and saw the falls myself because, what else, a boy I liked wanted to. As I stood there in awe of the terrifying power of water doing nothing more than falling down I said, "Okay. I get it now."

That's how it's been for me with so many things. The Capitol Building in D.C. Seeing Jon Bon Jovi from the 6th row even though I hated Bon Jovi with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. The time I got a perm against the advice of everyone. My first cigarette. My first baby. The first time I tried a really good goat cheese. You'd think I'd have learned.

About the time I stopped nursing my third child I also started having some trouble with weight creep. Nothing major but there were about 5 pounds that showed up and refused to leave. I realized fairly quickly that I had lost a major calorie burning factor with the weaning and that I was going to have to replace it with something else. It is also just a fact of life that women of a certain age will experience a gradual weight creep unless they take conscious measures to prevent it and I was pretty determined to prevent it. So I hit the gym.

For about a year I was content with riding the elliptical machine and doing some moderate strength training. I was, in fact, completely content with it right up until I wasn't which is when I switched to the treadmill.

Here's the thing, I hate walking. It takes so long to get anywhere that way. Even during a leisurely shopping outing I like to hustle between stores. I'm not sure why I'm built this way but it has been true of me for most of my life. My kids have picked up the habit of grabbing onto various bits of my clothing or my handbag and letting me drag them along in order to keep up when we're doing errands. It didn't take long for me to get sick of walking on the treadmill.

But I couldn't go back to the elliptical. I was done with it. That didn't leave a lot of options. So, I started running. That lasted about 30 seconds which was how long it took for my heart to send a signal to my brain to STOP for the love of Mike, and never, ever do that again. But about 5 minutes later I did it again with the same result. Five minutes later, same thing.

And in increments just like that I eventually ran one minute without stopping. Then 2 minutes. Then 5 minutes. One morning, two years later, I stepped out of my front door and hit the ground running and didn't stop until I got back home 13 miles later. Because, you know, I got it.

People sometimes ask me why I run. Sometimes, in the middle of a particularly challenging run I ask myself why I run. At those times it is helpful to have a list ready. Here's mine. I run to:

  • Stay thin without giving up rich/sweet foods
  • Stay healthy
  • Stay sane
  • Get some quiet
  • Get outside
  • Have a reasonable excuse for wearing stretchy pants (Well, I might run later. Might as well wear the stretchy pants.)
But the truth is that running, for me, is not just about what "I run to...". It's also about what I run from. I run to get away from the things I can't control. I run to get away from the things I should control, but don't. I run to get away from the sound of my kids voices. I run to get away from the sound of my own voice. I run to get away from the cake in the refrigerator. I run to get away from the unfinished chores and projects. I will not run in a box. I will not run with a fox. I will not...wait, what just happened?

The thing I run from most is INRTAT. Which probably belongs under the heading of "Thing I Can't Control", except that so much effort goes into controlling it that it's hard to admit that I can't. But I can't. Even with the constant surveillance and expensive medical tests. Even with the treatment: a pill that costs about $25 a day. Even with the healthy diet. Even with the running.

But I keep trying because I'm skeptical when it comes to the idea that I can't outrun it. And maybe someday I'll wake up and have to say, "Okay. I get it." But that day wasn't today. Which is why as soon as I finish this I'll be lacing up my shoes, strapping on my heart monitor, struggling to put on the watch that goes with the monitor, adjusting the settings on my iPhone to track my mileage, making sure my iPod is set to the right play list, adjusting all my wires, looking for my hat, yelling at the kids to stop messing with my hat, opting for a different hat and eventually...going for a run.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah. I get it. I run for me. I run for the quiet, the peace. I run so that I can eat Twizzlers for lunch and Krimpets for dinner. I run to reduce the every day stress, and so I don't end up doing 25 to life for murdering the poor slob in front of me at the grocery store who just happened to have 13 items in the 12 items or less lane.

    I get it.