A few weeks ago, as I do, I started running again. The Couch to 5K, that old reliable standby which removes your buttocks from the couch and sets you bouncing and cursing down the road towards ultimate health and total fitness, or at least the ability to run for 3 miles without passing out and then dying in a ditch and then being eaten by wild moose who have trampled down off the mountains when they heard that there was a buffet.
Jennette was my inspirationâ€”she announced, I am going train for the 5K! Oh boy, that was totally easy! she said. And I thought, holy crap, itâ€™s totally easy! I can do it too! And then I might have totally blamed her for leading me astray when, after rising bright and early for a vigorous dawn run, I staggered home and crawled into bed, safely out of range of mooses, and pretty much slept like the biggest Wuss in Wusstown, population me,Â for the rest of the day.
It could have also been the fact that I did not eat before I went out, and I forgot to bring my water bottle, and my iPod conked out so I tried to time my intervals in my head but kept losing count and erring on the side of â€œI will jog for an extra twenty, thirty hours just to be safe.â€ But it is easier to blame Jennette, really, because then I get to demand recompense. I prefer it in the form of cookies.
The next time I went, I did not make those mistakes. I made lots of different, interesting ones, but not those ones, and when I finished up my run with my shoelaces untied and my iPod cord tangled around my head and my sweat jacket trailing along the path behind me and the sun burning my eyes and a long trail of spilled water all the way down my front and somewhat unsure where my keys were, I felt absolutely fucking fantastic. I felt like a goddess. A damp, sweaty, squinty, total mess of a goddess who had just jogged, very slowly and with poor form, probably an entire total of 100 feet, and was absolutely and entirely, absurdly proud of herself.
I jogged! Outside! I was wearing spandex and a sports bra, in public, under the great big blue sky where anyone and god could see me, and I ran and ran and ran until it was time to stop and I wanted to do it again and again and again.
I managed to do it three times more before a trip out of town got in the way. I packed my running clothes and my shoes and I had very determined plans and yet somehow, ended up at a breakfast buffet, face down in a pile of waffles and fresh cream and ripe strawberries instead of on a treadmill in the bowels of a hotel in Vegas. Weird. But I missed it! Iâ€™d start again on Monday! Except I was sick on Monday, and tired on Wednesday, and on Friday I had missed both Monday and Wednesday so what was the point?
The point is that I miss it. I have never run outside, not on a treadmill before, and it was spectacularly awesome. It was fresh air and changing scenery, trees and grass and dogs passing by (I am a fan of all these things) and running through the shade and out into the sun and alongside the river all the way up to the dinosaur parkÂ and back and it was just about one of the best things ever, and I am saying that about exercise, I want you to understand, and I miss it.
image by Today is a good day