I was putting on my ice cleats yesterday morning to go for a long run outside when Luke said to me: “Mommy, be careful on the mountain.”
And that is exactly what it felt like. And feels like. EVERY time I run. A mountain to climb. Running (and exercising in general, every kind except eating) is incredibly difficult for me and I question my sanity every time I lace up my sneakers. I also have a few bullies in my head that argue with me the entire time I am running…and sometimes, it makes me cry (not the pretty drip-down-your-face-because-you-are-touched-by-the-beauty-of-the-f***ing-world cry…I’m talking about full-body, heaving, trying-to-catch-your-breath UGLY cry.) So yeah, running sucks.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you how great running is, or how much I’ve gained from it. If you run, you know. If you don’t, then you don’t.
Instead, let me tell you about the things that I’ve lost since I started running:
1. My dignity. GONE. I thought it left during the birth of my children…but oh no! Pretty simply, dignity doesn’t matter when you are running. You will look like a train wreck or like you’ve been beaten up at some point…but at least you got out there and got your miles in. Go team!
2. My boobs. GONE. YUP. I had a little funeral about 6 months ago for mine. Sorry if you didn’t get an invite, but heck, it was a one-woman pity-party. And I loved my boobs! They weren’t the biggest and perkiest ones out there, but they were mine and they were glorious in their day. Ah. Sweet memories. Now I am just thankful that they don’t flap in my face when I am running.
3. Caring how sweaty I get. GONE. Sweat, it happens. Like in crevices of your body that you didn’t know could sweat, begin to sweat. Bucket loads. Did you know your elbows could drip sweat? Well they can. And it isn’t pretty. Your butt? Oh yeah, that sweats. Like a champ! Knees? Damn right, they sweat too! Toes, fingers, and every thing you got, is going to sweat at some point. Don’t try and layer things up either, that will only make things worse. ***also, removing clothing that has been sweated into is its own Olympic event. I still have yet to master that one…and “may” have–on occasion–left a bra or pair of pants halfway on because it was just too hard to take them off while they were wet…or pulled a muscle trying to do so.
4. Peeing and the ability to “pre-determine” if I will have to pee in 5 minutes. GONE. Just like a kid learning to be potty-trained, peeing becomes its own fun little game! I’ll pee every possible drop I can get out of my body and then BAM! I start running and get 10 feet and think I can’t move another step unless I pee right then…like dancing because-there-is-a-cockroach-in-your-pants kind of pee. You gotta go, you gotta go. I’m thankful there are lots of trees and porta-potties in Minnesota. Yup, I’m thankful for porta-potties, guys. It is a whole new world for me.
5. The capability to take care of a runny nose quickly and efficiently. GONE. My nose runs when I run. Like all the time. So, I carry as many tissues in my pockets and bra can hold (Fun fact, in the summer I stuff them in my bra like a teenager). Just forget what people think of you, and blow your f***ing nose. On your sleeve. On your gloves. Into your shirt. Wherever people, if it has to come out, it is coming out. (Also, snot rockets are gross. Please don’t do them in front of me. I’d rather see snot on your shirt than a stream of it leaving your body and dangling its way to the ground…My gag reflex is activated every time I see someone do one…which brings me to other gross things #6).
6. Knowing when things need to come out of your body. GONE. You may “feel” like you don’t have to poop or throw-up…but just try running for a long period and oh yeah! Here it all comes out! Or at least you run a little faster (woo hoo for personal best times!) to a place where you can expel these things privately from your body and pray that it doesn’t escape before you get there. I have yet to poop my pants or throw up on myself…runner goals!
7. Breathing. Gone. Seriously, you think you know how to breathe? That is great, you keep doing that. Me? I forget how to breathe when I am running. Something as simple as bringing in air to my lungs becomes the most difficult task there is. When I wear a scarf while running, It makes it even worse and I feel like I am suffocating. Breathing in and out seems simple enough until you add moving your legs at the same time and it all becomes way too many things for my brain to manage. I’ll probably pass out one day…if you find me, just do me a favor? Stop my Garmin and save my run. I’m in training mode, people, things are getting serious.
8. Toenails and skin. GONE. I don’t really want to get into this one too much, because I feel a little like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. I *might* be transforming into a monster…but I HAVE included a photo of my first toenail I ever lost for your enjoyment…because if I have to look at it, so do you now.
This is the only poem I’ve written about running. If you have a bully in your head named ‘Why Try’ like I do, then this one is for you.
Happy trails, my friends. Keep flying.
A Runner’s Heart
“How sad,” she thinks.
How sad to never get
In her own race.
How sad to follow another’s pace
For so long
That she’d forgotten
This was HER race.
It was never anyone else’s
But her own.
It was sown into her sneaker’s laces
The traces of time
Worn down with signs of harder times.
“Unfairly matched,” she thought.
There is always someone better than me.
There is always someone faster
Someone who belongs here
Someone who looks like a runner
Who moves with ease
And competes without the need
She chalked up her clumsiness to a lifetime of
Not practicing enough
Not pushing herself enough through the tougher times.
And she finds
It is all just another excuse.
Another way to say to herself:
“If there is someone out there better than me,
‘Why try’ was the bully in the background for so long
Screaming at her to slow down
Stop. Turn around. Go home.
Only runners get to go this way.
Only runners get to see the high
Of the club that
YOU DON’T BELONG TO.
“But bullies are broken,” she thought.
They’re mean because they’re hurting.
They’re mean because they don’t think
You deserve what you’ve got:
At personal greatness.
So somehow, someway,
Somewhere out there,
Morning light creeps into the fight
She starts EVERY TIME she wants to run.
The sun comes up again and she wants to try again.
And so she picks herself up,
Packs her excuses like suitcases full of dread
Filling up her shoes with the “lead of possible regret”
She ties up her laces once again
Allows her feet to crumble into the ground
Gravel flying from the backs of her feet
Neatly competing with one another
She fights back
And says “No more this time.
It is me against me.”
It is me against those clouds of darkness
Always chasing after me.
It is me against
Negative entity that
Has traveled and tried and tried
To collide with my happiness and blissfulness
That is hiding inside of me.
And she knows
If she sows the seeds
She’ll grow greater
She’ll grow faster
She’ll grow stronger
And no longer believe
Her greatness can be taken away
To some land tainted by
Excuses and lies she tells herself.
All the words of negativity
Like trophies hanging for starvation to be fed.
“They’ll be dead in a week,” she thinks.
“If I get up
If I run
If I make this day mine
And try to shun
All those voices and choices that tell me
Because, She thinks
What if I can fly?