When I first started running, it was out of desperation. I had delivered two darling babies within the span of 15 months, I was terribly out of shape, and I was only 22 years old. Something had to be done.
At the time, we were living in a small apartment (with no air conditioner) in Oceanside, CA (with lots of drug dealers) and both of us were working full-time outside of the home (with little free time). So definitely no working out in the apartment, clearly no running down the streets, and obviously it had to occur in the evenings. Enter the treadmill at the apartment "fitness facility". And by "fitness facility" I of course mean "three treadmills".
I would put my babies to bed at 7 p.m., kiss my husband, and hustle my apprehensive booty across the parking lot and stomp for 20 minutes on that poor machine. It was awful. I was terrible at it. My poor lungs were so out of shape that my legs couldn't even get sore. My running shoes were some generic lace-up things probably purchased from Ross Dress for Less and my attire was comprised of a message tee and some old pajama shorts. You guys: this was before everyone in the world, particularly ME, had an iPod. Yes, it was in fact painful. Thanks for asking!
But just like with marriage and parenting and that perfect job you've always dreamed of having, working through that hard stuff in the beginning had to happen in order for something that was merely a necessity at first to become something that I truly enjoyed. And eventually something I longed for.
I got better and stronger and, oh joy of joys, thinner. Sooner than I expected, I hit my pre-pregnancy weight. Probably because it was something just north of "pleasantly squishy", having gotten pregnant right out of beer-swilling college. When that happened, I knew I was on to something good. And I kept going. Now I was running 5 days a week and learning to play tennis on Monday nights.
I felt amazing.
I got down to 120 pounds.
Now, I have no idea how much you weigh or how tall you and neither do I care nor mind. All I am trying to say is: OHMYGOD I WEIGHED 120 POUNDS!
I had two babies. I felt great. Life was good.
Since then, I've thorougly enjoyed my on-again/off-again love affair with running. Off again with another pregnancy, on again when I finally know I'm ready to feel like myself again. The weight of my shoes laced tightly around my feet is a comfort rather than the annoyance that it once was. I no longer have to think about things like faster turnover or relaxed shoulders or unclenched fists or, well, breathing. It's all just there, waiting for me whenever I'm ready.
This morning I slipped on my sunglasses, tightened my iPod armband snugly around the bicep of my left arm. Pulled my ponytail through the back of the bright red cap I found on the shelf in the hall closet. On morning runs, I turn left out of my driveway so that the early sun peeking over the tree line throws my shadow long and dark in front of me. I know my legs don't really look like that, but I still pretend.
Then the music starts. Just the opening beat at first, and it comforts me. Wraps me in the memories of a thousand miles of discipline and accomplishment. Of the girl I still am beneath the chores and the responsibilities and the blessed drudgery of every day.
"She Was More Like A Beauty Queen From A Movie Scene
I Said Don't Mind, But What Do You Mean I Am The One
Who Will Dance On The Floor In The Round..."
Right foot, left foot. Inhale. Exhale. The affair is back on.