just as fast as you can

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 inspiration—she announced, I am going train for the 5K! Oh boy, that was totally easy! she said. And I thought, holy crap, it’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,  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 “I will jog for an extra twenty, thirty hours just to be safe.” 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! I’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 park  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

  9 comments for “just as fast as you can

  1. July 6, 2009 at 6:48 am

    Good for you! I started the C25K as well, and funnily enough, also got temporarily derailed due to a trip to Vegas. But I’ve been avoiding restarting, scared of how much backsliding I might have done, even though I miss it too. I’ll start again if you will!

  2. Sal
    July 6, 2009 at 7:09 am

    Awesomeness. I feel this way about biking. It’s the only exercise I really, truly enjoy … and miss when I can’t do it.

  3. July 6, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Andrea you are totally in trouble, because I have just gotten back from my run this morning. It’s on! Shit’s just gotten real! Woo! It was hard, too. But mostly awesome. I ended up starting back at Week 1, and I’m glad I did. Go go go!

    Sal, I love biking, too! You have reminded me that I have a bike! I should get my butt back on that thing.

  4. July 6, 2009 at 8:14 am

    I am ashamed to admit I quit the Couch to 5K at about Week 7. I had been toodling along nicely, feeling smug and self-satisfied, and all of a sudden it felt too hard, so I took a week off, and then two weeks, and now it has been several months. Le sigh.

  5. M.
    July 7, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Woooo! :)

    I don’t want to rain on your parade, but be aware (and ready) for days when you’re going to feel like utter crap. Like someone made your legs dance the tarantella all night while you slept so they’re already spent and stuffed your lungs full of something that prevents normal oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange.

    On those days, just cut your pace a bit and roll with it (don’t panic and convince yourself you’re going to die because that’s just going to make it worse), and besides you’ll feel normal again in a few more days.

    Oh, and I read a couple times that a glass of lowfat chocolate milk is supposed to be awesome for your muscle recovery 15 minutes after you exercise.

  6. July 18, 2009 at 7:57 am

    I did the couch to 5k and LOVED it and actually ran in a couple of real, live 5k races with, you know, other people and stuff. FUN! Then I pushed forward with another training program and ran a FRIGGIN’ HALF MARATHON, which was incredible, in an OMG WTF kind of way, not in a WHEE FUN kind of way. But I’m proud that I did it and I’m going to shoot for another one in October.

    I had a hard time, though, transitioning from the treadmill to the great outdoors. Because on the treadmill? I can be a quitter whenever I want and so what. But outside? If I have run two miles away from home? And decide to be a quitter? Tough shit, it’s a two mile walk to get home.

    So stick to the outside running, it’s a great motivator! And congrats on getting back on the exercise bandwagon!

  7. July 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    I just read this because I am living 3 weeks in the past. (Please blog the PowerBall numbers for me and I will cut you in on the winnings.) Yay for running! And yes, OMG, it sucks and hurts and is painful. But then whee! You ran and you get to tell people about it. And I would totally stop my training regimen for a week in Vegas. Or better yet, you have the 5K in Vegas and go eat waffles afterwards. We should organize this race! The Golden Vegas Waffle 5K!

  8. November 10, 2009 at 11:44 am

    While I was away at school, I attempted the Couch to 5k. This was in an area of Pennsylvania where everything was uphill. Not only was I unable to finish the first day, I got lost trying to walk my pathetic butt home…at night. I did not go out again after that.

    You’ve inspired me to give it another go. Thankfully I reside in a flatter, well lit area.

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