Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Forrest Gump Runs Like a Chump

This is a post about running. For a lot of you, or the two of you reading this, I might as well have said this is a post about paint drying or antiplatelet therapy (when you neither need nor have ever heard of antiplatelets). I’ll be Frank and not Shirley: I don’t give a shit what you think. I’ll also tell you I mean that in the most loving way, and that I have a couple of blogs I infrequent. In these distant spaces, I can write about anything I want (e.g., antiplatelet therapy), without worrying about whether my sentences end in prepositions or if I’ve dropped some colossal cliche like it’s hot. (Okay, I still might worry and maybe I do care about what all two of you think. Don’t tell anybody.) 
Anyway, I haven’t blogged in a while, and I realized a big part of the reason for this blog-slacking is my feet hitting the pavement. Quite honestly, I can’t believe it myself. If you’re one of those people who say, “I hate to run” or “Fuck running” or “Runners are a bunch of morons who like to wear tight aquamarine tights and discuss anti-chafing strategies” or maybe something less harsh—the takeaway here is running isn’t your thing—let me say you’re not alone. Let me also say I once uttered (or thought about uttering) things like that, too. I never thought I’d be a runner and definitely not a runner in my 40s. 

Despite the aches and pains, the plantar fasciitis (which thankfully doesn’t require antiplatelet therapy), and yes, the chafing, the god-awful chafing, particularly in my armpits (got you to think about my armpits), running has become something I look forward to. Ha, and there it is, I think I ended a sentence with a preposition, and I will resist the urge to look it up or fix it. Maybe I’ll even start a sentence with a gerund or an and someplace, too. Who knows? I’ve already had two spiked eggnogs. (Just kidding. Eggnog is nasty, regardless of your exercise regimen or penchant for grammar-correctness. People on antiplatelets should also think about avoiding it all costs.) 

Since I mentioned Forrest in the title of this post, I should probably say something about him, and well, running. Because of that one long and boring scene where he runs. A lot. Like across the country. I suppose all I can say about Forrest’s epic foot journey is I used to loathe the idea of running out of doors, anywhere. I’m not sure why other than maybe I just didn’t want people looking at me. Running. Out of doors. Or it sounded like it would hurt. A lot. 

Fast-forward to now and I can hardly stand to run inside. 

In fact, one of the main reasons I’ve taken to running is the act of being outside, to pant the fresh (and sometimes not so fresh) air, free to thumpity-thump like an old lady (#OldLadyRunning) over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house. I’ve heard roosters crowing and cows mooing and the crunching of new snow under foot, I’ve jumped over road kill and potholes and what appeared to be vomit, I’ve shared ridiculous conversations with dear friends and my dog and random deer, I’ve smelled everything from manure to bacon, I’ve been scared by lightning and shoved by gales, I’ve willingly eaten something called gu and downed shots of maple syrup, I’ve grappled with the endings of stories I’ve written and those I haven’t written yet, I’ve doubted my parenting abilities and said “thank you” out loud to that wide expanse above, I’ve sung out of breath and out of tune, I’ve laughed, cried, winced and cursed, I’ve touched and tasted and smelled and felt the world outside. All while running. Yeah, I could’ve done these things while skipping, galloping or segway-ing, but I didn’t, and I guess that’s why running has become something pretty meaningful to me. 

My husband is both relieved and annoyed I’ve been stricken with yogger’s plague. For years, he tried to get me to lace up my sneakers and I always had the perfect reason to scoff at him: “Whatever. I figure all I need is a lobotomy and some tights.” I was an anti-runner, the 0.0 to his 13.1. Then one day, maybe from a friend’s encouragement and camaraderie, maybe from stupid competitiveness (“If that dude in jean shorts and loafers can schlep through a 5K, surely I could stumble and zigzag along.”), maybe because the loss of my father at 62 to heart disease weighs a bit heavier these days, especially with a certain 3-year-old in my life. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I’ve run the miles. (Yes, glad is another word for tickled pink.)  

Don’t get me wrong, I use the term “run” loosely. The goal is to keep my feet moving, and if you’re somebody considering yogging, that’s the best cliche and shred of advice I can give you. Just put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. You’d be surprised how well that mindset works, even if you start by doing it 60 seconds at a time. And yes, there’s some truth to that feeling called “runner’s high.” Going out for a run in the morning has often infused the rest of my day with a beautiful and magical emerald aura (if you believe in that crap). Really though, it has been a great alternative to my stress-reliever standby: alcohol. Not that I’m going to forgo having a cold one anytime soon, but running has become a different way to socialize, engage, experience and decompress ... without the hootch and the possibility of a hangover. 

Bad foot and arthritic knees willing, and with any luck, I’ll keep this kooky habit called running going. If you know me well (not an easy task considering I’m both shy and an introvert), you already know I tend to chokehold things once I decide to hold onto them. So watch for me, honk at me, twerk at me, or better yet, join me. Out there. (Yes, out there. Yes, running.) 

I’ll be the one plodding along in tight aquamarine tights. 

You'll have to just trust me when I say we all enjoy running.