I woke up early and came into the living room to think. No, that’s not exactly true. I didn’t sleep well. I’m not myself.
This has been one of those Texas winters where winter never truly kicks in. It’s been cool enough to need a jacket, but the air conditioner has run more than the heater. And more often than not, the temperature is so mild that no A/C or heat is needed. Our winters are comatose. Punctuated by extreme storm systems. But for now, it is… “still”.
I don’t sleep well in “still”. I don’t do anything well in “still”. Except I do tend to think a lot. Here is how that went:
I decided to join a running challenge at the beginning of the year, and 3 weeks in, I have already logged over 130 miles. I would be more impressed with myself if I wasn’t so tired. And not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.
I haven’t been writing since I began the running challenge. I joined a writing challenge last November to write a 50K word novel in 30 days. I had never written fiction, so I was intimidated. And while I didn’t complete that challenge due to a major hiccup in my personal schedule, I did give it the old college try (what the hell does that mean anyway? Anyone? Because I never finished college. In fact, I hated everything but the social part of it. So for me, a “college try” will never end well) and ended up with a newfound love for fiction and some pretty interesting characters. At least I can return to them later and give them a more interesting life.
Part of my personal goal this year was to write about the running. Daily. But I haven’t written at all. I have been too tired, and honestly I’ve been too busy. I feel guilty sitting down for any length of time. So I get off my ass and go for a run or walk. And this should be a good thing… but so far, notsomuch. While I am keeping to my daily goal of between 5 and 6 miles, I am sore, chafed, blistered, and so hungry that I have begun to gnaw on the furniture. I also just misspelled the word “gnaw” so badly that spellcheck had no idea what I was trying to write. Then I misspelled “misspelled”. Geez!
In fact, I am feeling too tired to finish this. I have the words in my head, but they are just circling around. That is frustrating to me, because I have always had control of my inner words.
I belong to two groups on social media. A writing group and a running group. Within these two groups, those new to either writing or running stick out like sore thumbs (or feet). I have limited patience for the new writers. I don’t interact with them, but I do spend a little time reading their posts and the comments that follow. They joined the group in hopes of becoming writers. Their posts alone are written so badly that it’s almost painful to read. It is for that reason that I never post on the running page.
I have no business writing about something I’ve never really committed to. I am a wannabe runner. Well, not really. I hate running. I’ve never liked the whole jolting, bouncing, out-of-breath, sweaty thing. And I jumped into this without realizing that other commitments had to be made.
*Shoes. What the actual hell people? Finding the right pair of running shoes may be harder than finding the right college, job or partner. Why aren’t more books dedicated to this endeavor? And, once you’ve found the perfect pair, you have to take out a loan to finance them. But don’t get too comfortable, because you need to REPLACE the motherfuckers every 300 to 500 miles. Now had you told me that little tidbit a month ago, I would have laughed, because no tennis shoes I’ve ever owned have seen that kind of mileage. But, considering I hit 100 miles in just over two weeks… I need to make some serious life changes to be able to afford this part of my wardrobe.
*Socks. Almost as important as shoes. Double-walled. Expensive. Not particularly attractive. And for someone who normally goes barefoot (don’t judge me, but I rarely wear socks with shoes) I am not impressed.
*Pants. The first time I ran in a pair of “plain old shorts”, I realized my mistake. I am now wearing pants made out of material that is most likely recycled tires. They have pockets (because you can’t run with a purse) but they are not where pockets usually are. They come in two lengths: Doris Day pedal pushers (I like to wear these with a crop top and scare the neighbor kids) and Mrs. Roper Bermuda shorts (these are just screaming to be paired with a kaftan and a pair of Birkenstocks, but both would make running not only difficult but dangerous. Even thought they are designed for running/walking/working out, I still have to use a product that is found in the makeup aisle. I won’t go into detail, but lets just say my face never benefitted as much as the rest of my body from this product.
*Shirts: Pretty much anything will do. Just as long as it covers the running bra…
*THE RUNNING BRA! I am 54 years old, which means my “girls” just turned the big 4-0. They’ve seen a lot of action over the years, but nothing prepared them for this. Sure, they have seen their share of amusement parks, rides in Jeeps, long drives across rough Montana terrain to “kegger” locations, and one long night of extreme clubbing on 6￼th Street in Austin that involved some questionable dancing shoes and peach schnapps. But this… no, this is something new. I took out a second mortgage on the house and purchased two running bras. I chose shiny emerald-green and ballet/princess-pink because they were slightly less expensive than all the natural colors. The fabric is also non-natural. The best way to describe it is to say that if I had been stranded with Gilligan (and the Skipper too), they could have easily turned my bras into sails and we would have been home in less time than a 3-hour cruise. (On the upside, just the act of putting it on and taking it off burns some serious calories)
*Food: Holy hell y’all! What do runners eat? When do they eat it? I want it all, and I want it now. Skipping meals isn’t an option. And sometimes I eat WHILE running/walking. Bananas, bagels, applesauce (thank god for those portable pouches!) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (the miniatures… so they don’t really count) and even slices of Swiss cheese! It’s not pretty. I burp a lot. Do other runners find this sexy? I have questions…
*Hydration: There is a fine line between dehydrated and throwing up. Finding it isn’t as easy as one would think.
*Time: As I mentioned before, I have less time now to write. And that makes me sad. Because my treadmill is in the living room, I have been able to catch up on a lot of television. Is this a good thing? Also, just gearing up to run takes time. An unexpectedly long time. And I find myself choosing to run indoors rather than outdoors for that reason. I need less gear for a treadmill run. And I might as well mention that the town I live in is not walker/runner friendly at ALL. Texans like their trucks (okay, some have cars) and they drive fast and aggressively. Add to that the lack of sidewalks/bike paths/urgent care centers… it’s just not a safe place to be a pedestrian.
*Research. Here is one thing I didn’t anticipate. Running is not just putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again, at a slightly faster speed than walking. It’s a sport. And it turns out, the less you know, the more likely you are to really fuck yourself up. In ways and parts of the body I didn’t even realize existed. Scroll through half a dozen posts on any running group and you will find yourself simultaneously wincing in pain and questioning the sanity of elite runners.
I have to hand it to all of the die-hard runners who, after making all of those commitments part of their daily life, truly love the sport and reap the benefits.
The more I read the posts, I realize that I think runners are not made, they are born. Like writers. And I am a writer.
So I’m not going to give up running, but I have decided I’m going to modify. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I will get off my ass on the daily. I will put in a mile or two or maybe three. I will stop when it hurts, and I will take it much MUCH slower. I will consider this challenge as a learning moment and not as a failure.
But back to “Pink” (in case you were wondering). When I came out to the living room, it was still dark. I turned off the porch lights, and gave the kitties some love. I turned on the treadmill for the day, made myself a cup of coffee and sat down in my chair to gaze into the backyard, trying to see what kind of weather was in store. I’m normally not a sunrise girl, since mornings aren’t my bag.
After a while, the outline of trees and fences and rooflines began to appear. The black turned to dark purple, and before long, a glow appeared in the east. It cast a pink hue across the yard as it grew lighter, and eventually, everything was lit up in pink. Pink trees, grass, fences, vehicles, houses… something out of a Dr. Seuss book.
Between the rosy glow getting brighter, and the perfect shade of pink bathing my backyard, I was transfixed. I felt the urge to grab my phone and run outside to capture some pictures. But I put that urge in my pocket and left it there. I knew there was no way any picture could capture what was happening. It was more than a moment of mother-nature’s perfection. It was an emotion. I knew if I blinked or looked away, it might disappear. So I held my breath and watched.
It was in the Pink that all those thoughts came to me. For three weeks I felt as if I had lost my words. And I found them there, in the predawn pink of my backyard. I am always grateful for moments like those. I try and scratch them into my brain, like a tattoo or an LP vinyl record.
Ironically, my daughter received a belated Christmas present. It was a pen. But not just any pen. It was pink. And it came with a bright light and a magnifying glass.
Okay universe, I’m listening.