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I run because I can’t hide

I don’t want to go.

My coffee is hot and dark and I’m sipping it slowly, leisurely; enjoying both the relaxation and the morning lift it offers. I’m in no rush to do what I have to do. No rush at all. In fact, there’s some laundry piled in a messy but clean mountain on my couch just waiting to be folded. If I leave it too long, it threatens to become pillows under children’s butts or tissues to wipe snotty noses. The longer I leave it, the more danger it is in. So you see it’s somewhat urgent that I attend to it immediately.

It’s been months since I’ve traveled down the path I’m about to go; the extended winter has sidelined me, kept me shivering even while indoors. All of a sudden, the yearly migration of the Florida snow birds; something never before considered, and in fact lightly mocked, has taken on a nice warm glow.

But I am ahead of myself by a few decades, and right now I am milking my last bit of coffee, even considering refilling my cup. But of course, that’s not a good idea. You can’t run on Dunkin, even though their ads say you can.

Running is my fair weather friend. The moment the temp dips to a certain degree, I tie up those shoes and store them away, choosing instead to split my time between the elliptical in my room, watching reruns of the Good Wife, and classes or machines at the gym where I could climb to the top of Mt. Everest, all while reading my book.

I’ve always exercised, generally five days a week, sometimes six. It’s as part of me as eating ice cream, but for a while now, I’ve just been going through the motions. I’m showing up, but I’m not putting up. Which might explain the heaviness in my body and in in my head. I don’t know which came first. Maybe chicken.

I started thinking about giving up on the whole business. I mean, I’ve managed to maintain myself for my entire adult life. I’m over 40. It would be nice not to worry so much about jamming exercise into my daily schedule or not eating that brownie. It would be nice to lay on the couch, ice cream spoon in hand, zonked to Housewives. It would be nice to just accept being me, instead of all this exhausting trying to be better nonsense.

I could just sit here, flip through the paper and enjoy another cup of coffee. I could… but probably won’t. Because no matter what I tell myself, what I’d like to do – or not do – I know what needs to be done.

Even at 9am, the thermometer reads 59 degrees. The sun is playing peek-a-boo with the clouds and the birds have started singing. My first run of the season has waited for Spring, and now it’s waited for me to tie my shoes, make sure that my in-laws are good with the kids, pee once more and do another last check on Facebook.

I’ve run out of excuses.

Sometimes my kids will cling to me and beg me not to leave them, but no such luck this morning. So now there’s only one thing left to do. Put one foot in front of the other and go.

 

Here I come...

Ready or not…

 

 

Good Enough! vs Good Enough?

When I’m in one of my gym classes, I can’t help but assess the assets in front of me. I size them up. Not to judge them in any way. It’s not about them at all. It’s about me. It’s about how I stack up.

Almost always I’m on the losing end of my self-assessment. No matter if I’m at my heaviest or at my most fit, I’m never good enough.

I’ve done this for as long I can remember. As a teen, I remember myself as the cute girl’s side kick; my best friend was really the one to want. I was always smart but never remarkably so, if you ask me.

20 years later and I haven’t changed. When I make cupcakes for my kids, I’ll always nod semi-approvingly and say, “They may not be so pretty, but they work.” When I put on a pair of favorite jeans, the best I can manage is, “They don’t look terrible.” When I size up those behinds in front me, I’m always shaking my head and accepting that while I could look worse, I don’t look all that good either.

Even with my latest manuscript, I have a very difficult time just admitting I think it’s good. If you ask me about it, I’ll first need to go through a bunch of hedging… “It’s not the same kind of writing as my essays… It’s just an easy beach read… It’s not going to win any awards or anything…”

Why do I undersell myself every chance I get? How can I expect anyone to take me seriously when I can’t even take myself seriously?

I’m always in awe of the people around me who possess the confidence to sell themselves. I remember at work watching guys march in and strut their stuff. Generally I never thought their ideas were any better than mine – often I didn’t think much of them at all; but they walked the walk, while I slouched and stumbled.  They believed in themselves, while I always felt a bit like a fake.

Yet, day in and day out, I sit here and type away my thoughts, my stories, my life. And almost every day, I’m at that gym working my tail off, although mostly it stays on. I must think it’s worth something; I must think I’m worth something to keep at it.

And I guess I do. I mean, I do.

But admitting that puts all sorts of expectations out there. If I told people my book was great would they agree or be disappointed? I couldn’t stand the disappointment.

I read posts on Facebook by bloggers who confidently say things like, “I’ve written this really important piece that we need to be talking about.” And I’m fascinated. How do they say that about their own work? How do they put themselves on such a high level? Not only is their work ‘important’, but we, as a general population, should be discussing it?

Sometimes it makes me roll my eyes, embarrassed by their self-serving assertions, and other times I’m beyond impressed. Go them, I think. Kind of like when I first watched Lena doing her naked all over TV thing.

Like my grandmother would say, “No one’s gonna toot your horn but you.”

I think I need to start trusting myself and my talents. I need to start thinking that I am really good and worthy and deserve success. I mean, I’m smart, I’m funny and gosh darn it, people like me.

It’s true.

Now I’ve just got to believe it.

toot toot

Toot

 

 

 

Among dancing queens, I am the jester

I snuck in the back, hoping no one would notice me. Not that they would. They reeked of confidence in their best Lululemons, while I probably reeked of something far less appealing in my sweaty maternity clothes circa 2007.

But I was here none the less; finally finding the courage to try the class I spent months peering at longingly through the glass partition, somehow always managing to catch the eye of this one girl who definitely thinks I’m a stalker.

Zumba.

It was even more intimidating on the inside. I watched crowds of ladies trying to muscle for prime position in front of the mirror.  They were lionesses, and standing center stage, prowling back and forth in purple stretch pants was the pride of the pack.

The music began and the class automatically started moving. I searched frantically for Purple pants for guidance, but she just paced the front line of her domain, relying on her pack who knew every move. Except of course me, a girl in front of me, and one girl two rows up who seemed always to be going left when everyone else was going right. I loved that girl.

There were no prompts or instruction. It was survival of the fittest and it soon became clear that I wouldn’t survive. Still, I huffed along, semi-following, jerking my body this way and that.

Arm up. Hip swivel. Step step. Swivel. Arm down. I mean, Arm down. Hip swivel. Step step step. Arm up.

No! It’s arm up then down. Hip pivot left. Pivot right. Step step. Arm. Kick? How’d I miss the kick? Okay, again. I think I almost got it. Wait. No! Not a new move! I was 10 seconds away from getting the last one!

Just keep moving. Puff. Huff. Man! I can’t even huff and puff in the right order! Pretend to follow along. Turn left. Turn right… into the flowing hair dancing queen next to me. Oops. She doesn’t miss a beat or acknowledge. Wow. Ain’t nothin gonna breaka her stride. Oh no.

The whole class is a bunch of gyrating hips, swinging like wild. Even Purple pants. I can’t stop staring at one girl near me whose butt just naturally rotates on spin cycle while I feel like I am trying out for a bad porn movie that I definitely won’t get cast in. Her butt swivel is beautiful and hypnotic. All of a sudden I’m craving a milkshake.

The move suddenly changes and she and everyone else flip around. I’m now face to face with the girl who thinks I stalk her. Greaaaaat. Brief awkward smile and the dance flips again. I watch her conspicuously drift right and a lot further up front. Really?

I continue pretending to follow along feeling bursts of affection every time the uncoordinated girl obviously does the wrong move. Poor girl, I think happily, watching her do her moves without out the slightest inhibition.

By the time the class is over, I had redefined the word spastic, bumped into the woman next to me twice, peed my pants just a little, and realized that while I thought I could dance, I actually could not.

So now, while I still have a shred of dignity and anonymity, I’m going to sneak back out the way I snuck in, unnoticed – except of course the girl who’s probably calling the police right now .

A monkey has no business hanging with a pack of lions.

Yeah, right.

Yeah, right.

 

I go for a run. Or so I thought.

We had so many things going on that day, but I figured I’d squeeze in a couple of miles just to kick the day off right. When my husband gave the official eye roll of agreement, I grabbed my Ziploc bag with a cinnamon mint and my cell and was off and running.

phone in bag

Trot, trot, trot. I was cruising along, minding my own mind, trying to decide whether I should wear my navy and cream maxi dress or capris with this cutesy new top my mom just bought me – yes, deep thoughts, people – when my Runkeeper app announced in that warm, automated bank teller voice, “Five minutes, .5 miles with an average pace of 10 minutes 2 seconds per mile.”*

I wasn’t really paying attention because a 10 minute mile for today’s run was perfect. Until I turned the corner and almost collided with a woman I sort of know from either baseball or elementary school or possibly from the neighborhood. She could be a friend of a friend. I don’t know, but I knew her and she knew me and we said hello as she passed me by.

I followed her butt from a car length or so behind and started racing her in my head. I sped up a little, then worried that we’d have this awkward moment where we were running side by side. I’ll just cross the street if that happens, I told myself. I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Congratulating myself on this brilliant idea, I realized that in the minutes that had passed I was no closer to catching her than I was before. Hmm. Might have to speed up a bit more. Now I’m panting, still waiting for that moment where – oh, ha ha, here we are together – but I had made zero progress.

WTF?! I did a self-confidence check. I’m in decent shape. I’m pretty competitive. I’m not a speed demon, but I’m no slack. She didn’t even look like she was running hard, while I imagine a photo of me would reveal someone who looked like they needed medical attention.

At that moment, Runkeeper announced, “15 minutes, 1.75 miles, with an average pace of 9 minutes 17 seconds per mile.*” Well, that’s certainly faster. Yet, I’m still at least a car length – if not two – behind her.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, she trips.

I watched her fall to the ground and do a kind of half roll. My mouth dropped open, and I am definitely not thinking that this is the moment I catch up to her. I am going to make sure she is okay. I get a little closer and yell, “Are you okay?” but before I reach her, she is back up and on the move again, brushing herself off as she goes.

She doesn’t even turn around, but gives me a little half wave in acknowledgment. Within two minutes, we are back at our regular spots, her striding ahead, me lagging behind.

I’m pissed – no biggie, just a pelvic wall thing from the babies – and I’m frustrated. All my dormant competitive instincts now come alive. Oh yeah, let’s take it up a notch.

I do gain a little ground, but quickly realize as I huff and puff that I am not going to blow this house down. Besides, I wonder, what would I do if I actually caught her? I could probably only match her pace for about a minute, before giving some ridiculous little wave of triumph and slowly falling back to my rightful place behind her.

No. I was humiliated enough. I slowed and followed her swaying short shorts until I hit my block and turned.  She, of course, continued on, forever in front of me, just out of reach.

When I got home, Runkeeper clocked my fastest mile at 8:27. Not bad. I probably should run with her more often.

photo (1)

*Numbers are approximately accurate, just in case you’re checking my math. 😉

Another run-in with the cops

The other day, I planned to meet a friend for what would have been our first run together. She c0-owns/teaches at the grueling Bar Method and is in tip-top shape. Just thinking about keeping up with her was causing me to sweat. So when she bailed, I was disappointed but also a bit relieved. Me vs. Me is stress enough.

Still, my friend didn’t abandon me completely. She introduced me to Runkeeper, a new app that maps your route and keeps track of your speed, distance and time. Excited, I put on my baseball cap, grabbed my cell and cinnamon mint and headed out, full of expectation and wondering if it would work.

Sure enough, at five minutes in, Runkeeper spoke. “.52 miles. 9 minutes, 32 seconds per mile.” It worked! But apparently, I wasn’t. Although, I knew it was completely unrealistic, I was secretly hoping I’d be clocking 8 minute miles or at least 8 ½. What you don’t know, you can pretend. Right?

At ten minutes, Runkeeper piped up again. “1.17 miles. 9 minutes 37 seconds per mile.” Oh no. I’ve slowed down. I needed to up my pace before the 15 minute marker. I began to feel anxiety, I mean motivation, to preform. I sped up a bit, and waited with baited, halting breath for Runkeeper to confirm it.

Instead, the phone rang. I checked the screen. Unless it’s one of the kids’ schools, I don’t pick up. It’s my alarm company. I’m picking up. “Hello?” I pant, still running. No way I’m ruining my pace.

“This is your alarm company. Your alarm is… The police …”

“What? Huh?” I really can’t hear with the street traffic and my heavy breathing. Plus my sweat is all over my phone now, making it slippery on my ear. I have to stop. Damn.

The alarm company repeats the information.  Apparently, my alarm is going off, and the police are on their way. Crap. I’m a solid 15 minutes from my house. I know, because Runkeeper just told me so with a pace of a little over 10 miles an hour, thanks to my abrupt halt. Hmph. Uh, not that I care anymore. I mean, my house might be  overrun with burglars. Why would I care about that?

About two minutes go by, before the phone rings again. Of course, it’s my husband. The alarm service has called him as well, and now it’s his job to repeat the information and just add some stress.

“The cops are there!” He exclaims.

“I know!”  I huff and puff in annoyance, as well as exertion.

“Hurry up!” he insists. “Uh, pant pant, maybe if I wasn’t on the phone I could move faster.”

Partly true. I don’t really think I can move faster. Plus, going back is uphill. Yeah, my impressive pace in the beginning was basically the downhill part of the run.

As I ran, I thought about the police at my house, waiting. I don’t know what it is with me and cops lately. First I had that incident with the bank fraud and was totally intimidated when I had to file a report. Then a few weeks ago, a cop showed up at my door, after my car was minding its own business parked  in front of my house and got smashed. Now I was running to meet them.

My phone rang again. The husband.

“Are you there yet?”

“If I wasn’t about to die here, I’d kick your ass.”

“Just don’t let them leave till they’ve checked every inch of the place.”

I hung up. Now I’m freaked out as well.

Dripping sweat, slightly hyperventilating, I reached home and found the cops sitting outside my door. I followed them inside for a walk-thru, which turned up nothing.

I showed one of them the crawl space in the basement. He didn’t have his flashlight and shrugged, “No one is in there.”

I said, “If this was a TV movie, there would be.”

He laughed.

I said, “That’s exactly what you would do in the movie. Then I die.”

He laughed again.

Damn.

After they leave, and after I again walked thru my house with a baseball bat checking every crevice like the idiot girl who absolutely gets dead, the next thing I did was check Runkeeper. Turns out, I got back to my house in 13 minutes. Not bad, considering it was uphill.

Now I’m totally looking forward to my next run-in with the cops. For speeding.

This app rocks

I love this app!

Come on, let’s go for a run. Yes, right now.

Good morning. It’s a lovely day out there. Perfect for a run. Now, I’m not the gal who loves her runs, I’m the gal who loves when they’re over. So chop, chop. The faster we start. The faster we end.

First check the sneakers. I am what some might call a ‘loose tier’ which means, I have a tendency to not give my all to the laces, leaving them apt to untangle. Trust me, I don’t need any more help tripping.

running sneak

Just some unnecessary information, my husband is a ‘tight tier’ which as you might imagine is the opposite of what I am. He’s actually quite condescending about it, constantly berating me and my children for our slack. When he ties a knot, Boy Scouts beware. You will be sleeping with your sneakers on forever. But enough of that. Off we go.

photo (55)

So this is my neighborhood. I admit to loving it. The trees, the people waving as I pass. The kids on bikes. The woman speeding down the street! Hey Bitch, that wasn’t even close to a complete stop! Are you kidding me?!

running stop sign

So we’re going to turn here and make our way down to the water. Isn’t this nice? Take a moment in your own heads to continue cursing out the lady who has no respect for stop signs.

Great. Now relax. Isn’t the water peaceful?

photo (53)

Oops people ahead. Beep beep. Nope. No one moves aside even a little. They are too busy chatting and enjoying the beautiful day. That’s okay, I’m feeling zen from the water. I’m not even going to push them in. 

running water

Look baby geese! So cute!!

running 1

Look out! Geese poop! So not cute!

running poop

Okay team, we’re past the half way mark, let’s head on up to the main road. This is the tough part where you need to keep your mind occupied because there’s not much to look at.

I’ll tell you a joke my 5 year-old told me the other day to keep you distracted.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because he didn’t have a car.

Yup. He made that up out of his cute 5 year-old brain. Let’s ponder his fabulousness for a moment.

So now, we’re up at the main road. Pretty typical looking. Lots of cars. Hope I don’t see anyone I know because, well, I’m not going to show you a picture of my outfit because I’d like to maintain the image of me running in matching, flattering workout gear.

Yup, that's me. I'm such a mess.  photo credit - www.victoriasecret.com

Fine, that’s me. I’m such a mess.
photo credit – http://www.victoriasecret.com

So tell me about yourself? Do you typically run? What do you think about when you do? Right now I’m thinking I’d like to stop at the ice cream store and get a cone of rocky road.

can you make out B&R?

can you make out B&R?

Really, I’m really so glad you’re here. Usually by this point I’ve deteriorated to mentally judging everyone one I pass, but you’re giving me positive energy. I didn’t even mention that teenager in short shorts trying to show off her vagina. I might be trying to impress you.

photo (54)

Guess what? We’re almost done. I think it’s gone so fast because I’m really entertaining. Maybe? Come on, I bet you don’t even feel like you worked out? One last hill and we’re back on my block. Let’s sprint this last stretch, shall we? You can do it. I’m right behind you. Ha. You fell for that?

Woo! Home Sweet Home. We did about four miles. Great job! Race you back to the ice cream store?

I’m so winning.

car smile

 

daily post

You really look terrible in that shirt. And fix your hair.

Yesterday, with the sun warming my face and last night’s ice cream still cool in my belly, I decided to take my running sneakers out of hibernation and hit the streets for my first run of the new year. Although I exercise regularly, I only run outside in fair weather. With the temperature nearing 50 degrees, my brain was itching for the fresh air instead of the stale gym odors that I had been inhaling all winter.

So I layered up and set out; one foot in front of the other, trip trapping down my street. It had been while, but it felt good. I missed going on autopilot through my neighborhood, while losing myself in my head. What would I think about today? I wondered and considered my options.

Should I wallow over my father’s declining state? That could get me through miles.

Or, should I think of snappy comebacks to the friend who recently said, “Wow, it’s so great that you can just go out without doing anything to yourself. I could never do that.”

Oh, I got it! How bout….  “You’re right. You totally look better with makeup.”

Wait! No! Better… “Thanks. It’s true. You really need self-confidence to pull it off.”

Hmm.. I’ll get back to that.

There’s always the to-do list. First shower, then supermarket, dry cleaners, stop for Dunkin Donut’s coffee, pick up kid…

Wow, figuring out what I’m going to think about has gotten me through over a mile. Yay. I should probably think about what to wear to tomorrow night’s School Social. Certainly not pants like the lady who just walked past me. Really? Flesh colored leggings? I don’t know anyone who can pull that off. I almost want to follow her and let her know that unless she’s auditioning for ‘What Not To Wear’, they should never be worn again.

In my college sweatshirt, skull cap, striped gloves and yoga pants that make my thighs look too heavy, I have no business criticizing anyone, yet I have to fight the urge to share my feelings.

Maybe it’s genetic. It would be something my grandma would have done. I can still remember her walking over to poor, unsuspecting strangers and saying things like, “Honey, no one’s going to tell you, but that lipstick color looks horrible on you.”

I always died a little, totally mortified, but now, decades later, it doesn’t seem like the worst idea. I mean, yeah, it can be seen as judgmental, but maybe it’s just being helpful. Maybe, sometimes we all need someone like that; a ‘truth teller’ in the form of a well-meaning stranger.

I mean who else would tell you these things? Certainly not your friends. No way will your friends tell you how fat you look in your jeans, or that –

Wow! The lady I just passed must be bathing in perfume.

What was I thinking? I might have blacked out there a moment. Oh, right, friends. They love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings. They can’t be completely honest.

I don’t know if the sweat has seeped into my brain, but I think this is a kick ass idea. I can open a school and train people on proper approach, having good ‘street-side’ manner, and of course, how to diffuse an offended person’s wrath. My people will be like secret agents. Employers will hire us to do an office walk-thru. Friends will hire us to say things they can’t say. It’s a public service. It’s genius!

I can’t believe it. I’m almost home. That was fantastic.

Wait, I just came up with the best comeback to my friend’s comment. Ready?

“You’re right. But you know, saying things like that is the reason a lot of people don’t like you.”

Boom!

Brutal Honesty. My grandma would have loved it. But would people actually appreciate the truth whispered to them by an unknown judge?

I don’t know, but i’ll have to think about it next time. I’ve just run out of steam.

Brittney, Let's talk about that bra. I'm here to help.

Brittney, let’s talk about that bra. I’m here to help.