Every once in a while, it does a body good to do something scary, something good and productive that scares the Chacos off of you. Two years ago it was a sprint triathlon. This year it’s a 10k.
And I don’t run.
Once many years ago my physical therapist told me I had wobbly joints and I should never become a runner. I listened to her because she was singing my song. I can never run? Oh, the tragic humanity of it all. Do I want to get up at 4:00AM and slam my body repeatedly against the cement until I vomit? Of COURSE I do! Who wouldn’t!? Sadly, I can’t. I’ve been medically advised not to.
No. Under the council of my almost physician, I’m afraid I will have to eat cheese and watch Pride and Prejudice instead and think about how hardcore I’d be IF (as Cinderella’s stepmother would say) I were physically able to wear tiny shorts and exert myself to the point of almost-death. But I can’t… so… nom nom nom… Netflix.
I’ve done a few 5ks in my life, always walking them, re: my off-the-cuff diagnosis of wobbilitis. When I competed in a sprint triathlon a couple of years ago I walked the 5k portion. I wanted a big goal, a scary goal, but one with no running involved. I finished. I cried. It was glorious.
Then my body fell into disrepair. I’d met my big fat goal and I didn’t have another one and I just stopped pushing myself.
So, when a friend asked on facebook who wanted to run a 10K with him this September, I said, “Yes,” before I really thought about it. I needed something to push me. This would be the thing. This race has everything – cartoonists, Nutella and cupcakes at the aid stations, couches along the route, and creepy guys in fat suits chasing you to make you run faster. How could I refuse?
I consulted my new PT and she said, “Sure. You can run it if you train properly.”
So I’ve been training for several months. At first I did this in secret, not wanting to tell my running friends for fear they would brand me as one of them, invite me to sleep in their stinky Ragnar van, or “do a quick 14-miler” on a Saturday morning, only to find out I was simply pretending to run.
I’m still running slower than many people walk. What I’m doing is pretty much what they’d call jogging in the eighties but since it is not the eighties we are all runners. Always. And athletes. Never say “jogging” to me.
But eventually the secret came out and everyone’s been nothing but supportive. Runners are people too, it seems.
And I’m tri-ing again this week as a step on the road to the 10k. ¼ mile swim, 14 mile bike, 5K run.
It’s been a rocky process. I haven’t lost an ounce of weight. I’ve had some training days that have made me happy cry and more days where I’ve sad cried. Mostly I’m just proud I’ve stuck with it this long. I feel stronger and more certain I can do hard things, even if I do them really REALLY slowly.
Last week was one of the Dark Times. We’d been on vacation, a veritable tour of food, and when I got back I’d lost a lot of ground physically. Five-year-old Wanda overheard me asking a friend to pray for me because I was worried about the tri and the 10K of doom.
So she went up to the card drawer and picked out this lovely specimen for me, which I’m 98% sure she had no idea how to read.
Then she wrote this inside.
“Mom. I know that you can do the triathlon next year. Love, Wanda.” The picture is me and my three friends running. I am not tall.
Notice what the original card says.
It truly is a most difficult time. Wish me peace. And comfort. And several months of post-race carb loading.