Friday, May 11, 2007

Run: Don't be Veal

I started running again in January. It's been an on again/off again love affair for me ever since I was a child. As a child I just ran for the hell of it. You know, like kids do. They'll run over to their friend's house and then back home, just because running is how you get places when you're a kid. It kills me.

On my daily runs I go past a YMCA and there's often an AYSO soccer game going on. I look at the kids and think, "Oh man, those were the days," because I used to be in AYSO. And they probably look at me and think, "Why the hell is that lady running like that?" The kids these days swear a lot. And yes, I'm at the age where kids call me lady. As in "old lady ____" who runs the amusement park and tried to scare everyone away by rigging sheet-ghosts on the carousel.

The kids wonder why I'm running because they run as a matter of nature. They don't understand that when you get old, your body is heavier and running is harder. Life gets harder too and often a body sits more than it walks or runs. We grow from children who die for the chance to go outside in the hot weather to play on the Big Toy or get a game of kickball going, to adults who sit like veal in cages in air-conditioned office buildings. And while some of us get to look out windows, others of us only have Office Windows and Explorer as our links to the outside world. We feel our muscles growing soft and fatty (did you know your body can store fat in your muscles and organs if you're too inactive?), we look at our once muscular, shapely legs and see the pock-marks of blubber cells beneath the surface, and wonder, "Why have I let this happen?"

And that's part of the reason this old lady runs. When I was twenty-two and a junior in college, I ran out of fear that if I didn't, I'd gain that freshman twenty (or is it sophomore twenty?) everyone talked about. I didn't really gain anything until I was twenty-six and an entry-level copy writer. See? I had become veal. Something I had gone to great lengths (three years of graduate school) to avoid.

Inevitably I landed in a cubicle. And my legs grew soft and my stomach became flabby. No matter what I did, that 32 ounce Dr. Pepper every morning took its toll. I guess you can't drink 600 calories every day at a sedentary job, and only exercise three days a week after work and expect to keep the lean, trim figure you had during college. During college I walked everywhere, sometimes up Old Main hill twice a day. It was rough.

So, I'm running again. At first it sucked. At first my legs felt like cement blocks, they screamed with every step, and a mile was like murder. I felt like a fraud, like, "What the hell, who am I kidding? This isn't me anymore." But now it is. It's better. Sometimes I think I could run forever, on days when the humidity isn't a beast and the sun isn't a wench. Even then, once I get into it, four miles doesn't feel like too much for my basic run.

I've just challenged a bunch of people to beat me to 150 miles*. I'm no ultra-marathoner, but I kind of hope to be someday. I didn't get into the St. George marathon, but maybe I'll still be able to run it, and from there I have some other Everests to conquer.

p.s. Don't EAT veal, either.

*Anyone who wants to JOIN THIS CHALLENGE, let me know. It starts May 15th. The catch is you have to do it through the Nike+ ipod feature. So, get a Nano or something, buy the Nike+ sensor, and start running! The winner gets $100 on me.

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