My name is Kristen K. and it's been two months since I last ran. I feel like this should be a confessional since I was pretty good about running consistently for two years straight--I even ran a marathon for pity's sake--but I really fell off the wagon the past two months (and only ran sporadically before that for a few more). For whatever reason, I managed to push past the ennui this morning and get out on the road. I expected to feel good. I mean, I never loved running. Yes, I know, two years of running 5-6 times a week and I never loved running. Chew on that one a bit. But it made me feel good about myself, it helped define who I was, it kept me in shape, and it certainly helped that 60+ pounds come off. And so I ran. But after two months of no running whatsoever, my run this morning reminded me why so many people hate running. Because it didn't make me feel good.
I started off with what I thought were low enough expectations. I was only going to run 3 miles, something I could do in my sleep. Only I can't anymore. And I'm slow. Okay, I've always been slow but I mean now I'm really slow. And I started doing the rhythmic, heavy breathing that made my running coaches down here worry that I was having a heart attack or asthma attack or apoplectic attack or just some kind of garden variety attack when they first met me much sooner than I have in, oh say, two and a half years. If 90% of anything is mental, let me tell you friends, it is 100% hard to mentally push past the disheartening fact of being this out of shape after only two months.
But I pushed and I shoved and I huffed and I puffed and I kept one foot going in front of the other, at least for a while. Like Harry Potter casting his patronus because he knew he could, having watched himself do it before, I've been here before too. The last time I started running (which, incidentally, was the first time I've started running since I went out for track in high school umpty-ump years ago), I was very heavy and out of shape. This time I feel just as out of shape but am luckily not quite as heavy (although I feel compelled to admit I didn't manage to keep off all 60+ lbs.). So I've got that going for me. Last time I ran just under a mile and thought I would die. This time, armed with all the accoutrements and gadgets I've amassed over more than 2 years of running, I ran a mile, walked a half mile, ran a mile, walked a half mile, ran the last tenth of a mile back to my driveway, and thought I would die. A distinct improvement, don't you think?!
As I started out, I discovered that my iPod had been sitting unused for so long that the dratted thing was dead. Or it could be a delayed discovery of permanent death due to drowning as it was one of the things that was on the boat that I sank this summer and I'm just now finding out because, well, I haven't run since before I sank the boat. In any case, no music to take me out of my own head, something that is most disturbing when I run. See, I negotiate with myself, whine, and just generally exude negative thoughts when I run. Trust me though, if you lived in my crazy head full time, you'd want vacations from thought now and again too.
But I went out distractionless and started gasping almost immediately. The humidity down here is frankly appalling. I chose a route mainly in shadow to try to keep the transmission from overheating too soon but that was futile. The good news was that when I darn near trod on a baby snake (and they have poisonous ones down here in the sunny south--although I suspect this one was dead), I had no fluid left in my body with which to wet my pants. There's always a silver lining, don't you know?! The bad thing about the run, aside from the fact that I couldn't run the whole thing when six months ago I could have run it in half the time, blindfolded, was that I miscalculated where my walking portions were going to be. If there was an uphill, that's exactly when I hit the "time to run again" bit and if there was a downhill it was all walking. What kind of nincompoop am I? (This is one of those rhetorical questions for all you smart alecks out there.)
The best part of the run, of course, was finishing and getting to walk into the chilly embrace of the air conditioning. You know you're totally over-heated when the most appealing thing to do once home is to peel off all sweaty clothes and lay down on the cold tile bathroom floor naked as a jaybird. Sorry about that mental image there. I know you all have to go scrub your eyeballs now. But hey, maybe I subconsciously knew this would happen after my run and that's why I didn't run all summer. Paying for the therapy my children would need after witnessing this would preclude college for them. So really, my not running was a fiscally responsible plan! Of course, the fact that they left all the lights on upstairs before heading off to school, forcing me to climb the stairs with angry thigh muscles still firing off twitchy impulses makes me want to force them to endure some nastiness somehow today.
The long and short of today's run is that I loathed it. I felt like crap. I'm gonna hurt like a demon tomorrow and probably even worse the day after. But I'm planning on getting out there again on Saturday morning, pushing through the pain, forcing my whiny self to do what I know I should. And it will get easier again with time. And I'll start to feel good about myself for doing it again too. Maybe I'll even try to train for another long race. But first I'd better try to run the whole 3 miles again. I'll let you know how long it takes to forget why so many people hate to run. But in the meantime, could somebody ask me on Saturday if I really did get out there again?