Whenever I imagine any of my friends running, I picture them looking something like this:
- Cute outfit
- No sweat
- Big smile
- Confident stride
- Obviously at a good pace (note the perfectly pulled back hair swinging perfectly)
- Non-red face
- No sign of loss of breath
- Doesn’t have a care in the world
- Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world
Just in case anyone pictures me looking anything remotely like this, I thought I’d set the record straight and give you a better image of what my runs actually look like. So I’m going to give you a breakdown of a typical 2-mile run.
I wake up in the morning and my first thought is, I hope it’s raining… or maybe it’s going to rain. Then it’s not my fault if I don’t run today. I’m tired, my shins hurt, and I start promising myself that if I don’t run today I will definitely run tomorrow. Since I can’t really tell what the weather is up to from inside my home, I put my running gear on anyway to help me motivate myself. Downstairs I set up the jogging stroller while the girls eat their breakfast: into the stroller goes a frozen water bottle for me, juice and string cheese for Julieboo.
As I drive Sugarbear to school I scan the sky and decide if the weather is good enough. It is, and I find that I’m actually really relieved and looking forward to my run. Once Julia and I are back home, she grabs a stuffed animal (or 3) and climbs right into the stroller. I grab the mail keys and my cell phone, and we head right back out the door. It’s about a 2-minute turnaround.
We walk to one of the entrances to our community, then I set up my phone to blast music for the run. Julia’s cheese is opened, she yells, “1, 2, 3, GO!” and we are off. About 2 minutes into my run I realize that I forgot to stretch. Again. Which immediately reminds me that I need to do more research on this, since I’ve heard that not everyone recommends stretching before a run. (I’m not kidding, I think about this every. single. run.) As I go I wish I’d tightened my shoelaces or tucked them in so they aren’t flopping around, wish I didn’t have to push the stroller, wish I had the time to push myself harder.
Then I get a cramp. Nothing major, but annoying nonetheless. I push on, and it disappears. Sometimes it pops up again, but by the end of the run there’s no hint of it left. We’re getting to be good friends, that cramp and me. I’m nearing the halfway mark at this point, and I’m getting tired. I’m sweating a bunch, and knowing that I’m reaching that 1-mile mark is making it a little easier to push on. I can’t believe that people run marathons. I’m a mile in and I’m pooped.
But something happens at that 1-mile mark. I get this amazing rush – this incredible second wind. My good buddy Mr. Cramp is gone for good, my feet aren’t feeling so heavy, I’m not hot or tired, and somehow a song with a great beat comes on and I find myself picking up the pace. I start to wonder how many calories I’m burning, how fast I’m going (it’s never fast, but I always wonder anyway).
Now that I’m heading home the run is going much smoother. My breathing feels more regulated, I’m pumped, and I start thinking crazy thoughts… hey, maybe one day I could run one of those marathon thingys! Don’t get me wrong, there’s always a moment where I start telling my feet to keep moving. Sometimes I even bribe myself with the promise of McDonald’s fries later. But I don’t feel like I’m dying, and that’s good. When we get back to the community entrance, Julia gives me a high-five and says, “That was a good run!”
I wish I had a picture of what I look like when it’s all over, but I promise it’s nothing like the girl at the top. I’m really sweaty. I’m red red RED in the face. I’m huffing and puffing. I grab a drink of water (finally), and I’m so wiped that half of it spills all over me. I’m too tired to care.
My legs feel like jello, but as I walk back to the house I tell myself that once it’s cooler I’m going to push harder – I’d love to hit the 4-mile mark this winter. And even though I know that I’m not likely to ever look like the perky happy runner at the top, I feel like a million bucks when I’m all done – and I feel a little less guilty when I do indulge in those fries!