I would love to start this post by saying I was up at 6:30 am and was on the trail by 7:00 am but alas that is not my story. That is not how my journey began. It begins with my husband nudging me to turn off my alarm that has been playing for an hour and me looking for every reason why I shouldn’t go running. It is too hot already. No one wants to go with me. I can do it later on the treadmill. I just want to sleep.
But at 8:16 am I walked out the door with my daughter. I was like Get Smart with all my gadgets, my Nano and my Polar F6. We walked towards the 10K trail that passes in front of our neighborhood and I see all these skinny mini runners running past my neighborhood entrance. All I could think was, “Oh Lord, please don’t make me the only fluffy out here this hot morning.”
And like a combination of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of beauty, and Athena, the Greek Goddess of wisdom and war, she rode past me on the trail. She was wearing spandex riding shorts, a tight biking shirt and a helmet as she rode past me on her bike. She looked strong. She looked confident. She looked beautiful and she looked like me, fluffy. How ironic that we fluffy gals always worry about what others are thinking when we display ourselves in tight fitting workout clothes. We think, “I hope no one I know will see me.” Or “Here comes someone towards me, I better tug at my shirt and try to hide everything I can. They are probably disgusted by me. Can they see my flab flopping while I run? Are they grossed out by how big my rear is in these tight shorts?” I am amazed at how easily we will say things about ourselves that we would never think or say about anyone else. Instead of being our best cheerleader, we become our own walking Debbie Downer. So I wonder if this Aphrodite, this Athena, knew that someone was watching her and that she was beautiful and strong. I wonder if she knew she was encouraging someone else to dig deep and find that confidence that somehow, sometime ago, went into hiding and only made rare appearances every now and then. No, she probably didn’t and I don’t know if she cared. But I did. I was glad that she past in front of my neighborhood when she did.
I continued on my run with more confidence. Was it easy? Heck no. I didn’t like holding my bottle of water in my hand. Whoever invented bottle water holders on treadmills was a genius. When I run on the treadmill, I concentrate on keeping my hands relaxed and not waste any energy by tensing my hands into fists. However, one hand is in constant tension when you are holding a bottle of water. But it was hot and only 3 water fountains on the trail and since Hurricane Ike, I don’t trust them yet. They have repaired the bathrooms along the trails, well actually they tore down the old ones because Ike destroyed them…some were just missing after the hurricane. They were completely gone, but I digress. They had fixed or rebuilt the bathrooms but the water fountains look the same, untouched, so I don’t use them.
The trails are nice. I saw squirrels, cranes, and these nasty little nat bugs that flew in my mouth. But the inclines were hard. I am glad I used my treadmill at 2% incline during my runs because I don’t think I could have done it outside without that. The sun was just beating down on me when I wasn’t under the shade. The good news is that when you live close to the water, you get a little bit of a breeze so the 94 degrees that felt like 104 in the humidity only felt like 98 because of the breeze. But when I had shade there was relief from the sun but it also blocked the breeze so I don’t know which I preferred.
I can’t believe how easy the first 10-15 minutes felt. I had a rhythm going. Sure it was hot and I was tired but there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to finish. And when I hit minute 18 of my run well hot dog…..I was on a slight decline. Thank you Jesus! And at minute 20, I stopped on the trail as it turned to go towards the water, and turned around. Only now the decline became an incline and instead of praising Jesus, I was begging for strength and cursing the devil. LOL I started my mantra…So much better I’m for you…from a Janet Jackson song. And then a military cadence song started playing on my Ipod and well, those always help with my pace. I finished my run and not a minute too soon. It was hot and I was really feeling it. My daughter was tired also. I walked home from there.
When I turned the corner to my street and saw my house, my skin was burning and I had a wonderful idea. I was going to jump into the garden tub and only turn on the cold water. If you have never tried that after a hot, hard run…I highly recommend it. I just layed there and felt the cool water just permeate every inch of me. Not one area was left untouched by the coolness of the water. I even felt the difference on my scalp between my hair follicles. I just closed my eyes and tried to get as flat as possible in the tub as the water began to spill over me. I was so hot that the water seemed to warm up because of my body temperature. Because us fluffy gals tend to float a bit, my back was not flat against the bottom of the tub and I could feel the heat radiating off my back, hitting the tub and bouncing back to me. What an exhilarating feeling. I could even feel the coolness between my toes. I closed my eyes, turned on the jets and enjoyed every minute of it.
Earlier during the week, I was listening to Zig Ziglar speech called “How to get what you want”. I first listened to it in my twenties and every once and awhile I listen to it again. It had been years since I heard it and had forgotten about his analogy about goal setting and using running and weight loss as his example. He said after months of running and feeling like he was sacrificing something to get back into shape, one day he was running on a college campus, on a beautiful day, and realized he was not sacrificing to get into shape, he was reaping the rewards. I finally understand that. If you read this and run to your tub and just turn on the cold water and step in…you will be miserable. It will seem cold and unwelcoming. But if you run first, in the sun and give the run all you have and then some, then come in and take a cold bath….oh what an amazing reward. Not including that you will feel more alive after the run, you will be healthier and have more energy.
The beauty and the beast belong together. The beast, those moments that you tell yourself you are too tired, it is too hard, is something to get mad at and beat. It is mental. Get mad at it during your run. Focus your energy on overcoming it. Then enjoy the beauty of it. Enjoy being alive and being able to run, whether it is for 1 minute, 10 minutes, 20 minutes or two hours. Enjoy meeting new people on the trails, the new found energy and say hello to your long lost friend, confidence. She has been waiting for you to call her. She knows you are beautiful. She knows you are strong. She was just waiting for you to realize it.