I've been trying to mix up my routine lately, so I've decided to really try running. I've never liked running; I find it uncomfortable, often painful, and always humiliating. In one of my more masochistic phases I joined the track team in middle school (obviously, there were no try-outs). Track meets consisted of me, five-feet, white, slow and steady, vs girls from the other high school in my town, populated, apparently by mostly towering African-American freaks of nature. Picture Nathan Lane in drag lining up next to FloJo and you get the idea. Sometimes I couldn't finish because I was laughing too hard. It never affected the outcome, which was always predestined.
So with some trepidation I tried the treadmill at the gym, and discovered that treadmills aren't bad; they work with you, making it feel less like running and more like flying. I could go for a good length of time once I was warmed up; with my music on and my heart finding its cruising rate, I found I really enjoyed it.
Running outside was another matter. Running outside means a surface, usually hard, that does not move with you. It says, "Run or don't run; it's all the same to me. I'm a sidewalk. I've got all kinds of time." The impact was greater, I felt more earthbound, and worst of all, I was outside, where everyone could observe my struggles to run a fraction of the distance I could on the beloved Treadmill of Encouragement.
I knew that if I could find a running buddy it would be easier; I'd done this in college a few times and it made a big difference. Problem is, none of my friends wanted to (I'm beginning to realize that people I consider my friends are not people with whom I have a lot in common. This has caused a lot of reflection over the past week. Topic for another post, when I'm not feeling pissy about it all).
My chiropractor recommended a Chicago running group, and sure enough, they have training. I signed up. It went like this:
Show up at meeting point, a high-end gym so opulent that the bathroom causes you to stop short when you first enter because it is approximately three times the size of your apartment and you literally lose your orientation when you walk in. Worry that the Ponytail Police will serve you a citation for being in violation of Trendy Code 1.3.C, with added time for applying polish to your own toenails. Wait in atrium on large 3-sided couch while other runners join you. Note that as always you are older by far than everyone, and amuse yourself with your usual routine of talking to them like you're also a human being similar in many ways to them, almost the same species even, watching them get all polite-awkward. Fail to care, since your arms and legs are better than most of theirs, and your stomach more flat. (This is what happens when you don't consider beer a food group, girls. Watch and learn.) Realize after a few minutes that everyone is staring at a hand-held device and saying nothing to one another. Consider suddenly shouting YOUR GENERATION IS DESTROYING CIVILIZATION, but decide to hold that ace for another time. When the trainers arrive, prepare to tell them that you will be in the beginner group, but when they ask for a show of hands, realize you would be the only one. Raise your hand with others in the 5K-training group of about six people.
Go outside, do stretching exercises on a busy sidewalk, then take off in a group. Run for one mile along side streets and the lakefront, listening to the one guy in the group tell another girl that his girlfriend gets angry because he calls her on the phone to talk rather than texting her. Consider asking him to tell his ungrateful psycho of a GF that she is destroying civilization, but instead suggest that the next time he's in bed with her he say nothing but text her instead.
Remind self to work on filters. Play rhythmic running music in your head.
Run one mile, stop with the group, rest, drink some water, run a mile back. Second mile is easier. Discuss muscle issues with the leader of the other group, a seemingly cool woman who isn't put off by your overactive energy gene.
Genuinely look forward to your own run this weekend. For now, the soreness.