Woman who runs with the dogs.

Run, Dee, Run!

Dee over at Tangled Up in Sticks and String mentioned she’s entered a 5K race.

I’m not sure if I’m jealous, awed, or guilt-ridden.

The idea of “racing” appalls me, but I like the idea of running IN THEORY. It’s the actual running part that stops me (in my tracks or on the track?).

In the early 70s when the running/jogging craze was sweeping the country, I went out for track. I was a fairly normal, hormonally volatile, meaner ‘n snake 13-year-old. [Most of the previous sentence is redundant. All 13-year-old girls are hormonally volatile and mean.]

I was never much of one for group activities, but something about running appealed to me even at that age. Pity the track coach ruined it. My life might have been completely different had she believed in water.

In the southern-most part of North Carolina, late August/early September was brutally hot and so humid a body needed gills to process oxygen. This was girls track season.

My best friend and I showed up for try-outs not knowing that just showing up guaranteed a spot. That first day we were given a 10 minute pep talk and sent out to run laps under a sun beaming 98 degrees to ante up with the  98% humidity level. This was before decent athletic shoes were a norm and during the unfortunate time period when expert wisdom decreed that drinking water before or during running would provoke Big Problems.

About the fifth time around the quarter-mile track, I was dying. This was before cigarettes, sloth, hedonism and general laziness had taken its toll. I was healthy, bright-eyed, very active, and had a fair amount of muscle for my long and lanky frame. 98 F at 98% can annihilate even the most dedicated of athletes which I surely was not. I gave it another week. Each day was the same: pep talk followed by laps. I wanted to die.

I dropped out of track – one of the first (of many) failures in my life. It never really ate at me much. For years, I’d roll my eyes and decree “Running is not for me” any time the subject came up.

Ten or so years later, the Ex and I started dating. He liked to run. He wanted company. I agreed to give it another shot. I’d been doing high impact aerobics for a year and figured I could handle a jog. I went. I ran. I sat down. Hedonism, sloth, and cigarettes trumped the Jane Fonda Workout and running was simply torturous – and if all that wasn’t bad enough, I was still trying to do this in K-Mart Blue Light Special tennis shoes.

Along came Chef Boy ‘R Mine and by the time he entered high school, he’d taken up running. The kid was a running fool. He was on the track team and the cross country team. He ran in the fall. He ran in the spring. He ran at school and at home. When he was running on his own time, he used to take our dachshund with him. She ran every mile with him – usually two to every one of his (investigating smells and whatnot).

His cross country days appealed to me. I could see the attraction in that – track and field events like sprints and relays just bored my innards into paralysis. Ah, but cross country. . .I can feel the wind in my hair, my legs pumping like a well-oiled machine, blood coursing, and water – lots of water. I envision the dogs and I running through the Appalachian hills singing songs from the Sound of Music, our hearts beating as one, our lungs breathing in and out to the hum of the Universal Om, yada yada. In short, the four of us working in tandem to provide a goofy scene of health, vitality, and eccentricity. [Really, who runs with a dachshund, a shih tzu and an Italian greyhound?]

Running BY water could be the motivation I need.

The water thing has provoked me into thinking maybe I should give it another go. It seems the Running Experts are now unanimous in thinking that water before, during, and after running Might Not Be a Bad Idea. Hell, they even make a thing, I think it’s called a Camel Back, to strap on your back and suck water out of while running. (That seems way too Navy Seal for me, but it proves my point.)

Of course, I’m putting a lot of faith in water to keep the whole experience from being another failure, but collapsed on the ground somewhere will have to go better if I’m at least hydrated. Right?

I probably won’t take up running, but I still like the idea of it. I could get some cute shorts and one of those spiffy combo bra/tank top thingies and some wicked cool running shoes. I can stand around and stretch, sipping water, and talk to the dogs while checking my resting heart rate (I don’t know why they do that, but presumably it’s important.) Until summer, I’ll need an even spiffier warm up suit – one without a hood (I hate hoods). Maybe red laces for my shoes. And a bumper sticker – Woman who runs with the dogs. Something like that.

Y’all know I’m not going to do this. But I like the idea of running. IN THEORY.

12 thoughts on “Woman who runs with the dogs.

  1. I only took up running once. I smoked and drank too much in my 20s and most of my friends were jocks who just drank some and smoked my left handed cigarettes sometimes. They all got together a few times a week at the local school track after dark and ran a bunch of laps. They invited me to go one time sorta with the idea of having someone everyone could beat. Well, I spent my youth running from one place to the next. . . miles at a time. Poor kids did that.
    I began running with them and within a few days was thoroughly beating every one of them. The first couple times they all had excuses.
    I quit running soon thereafter. . . cramped my partying too much.
    I like the idea of acting like a runner though. Maybe I’ll go out to the barnyard and do that tomorrow. . . I wonder what the chickens, horses and sheep wil think.

  2. I was a runner for years. While doing graduate work at Northwestern University, I ran along Lake Michigan. I agree that running near water provides considerable motivation. I usually ran with dogs as well as neighborhood dogs frequently liked to tag along. Running was fun until my knees started giving me problems. So I gave running up for cycling and kayaking.

    • Now wait a minute. I thought the gym rat stuff was what you did to make up for not running. You don’t kayak or cycle all that much unless you have a secret life I don’t know about but which I’ve always suspected.

  3. I’m not exactly sure WHY we decided to do this. Middle-age crazies??? Could be. I always said the only thing that would make me run is some loon with a flaming stick coming after me. But, he would have to look really mean and menacing. Just having a flaming stick would not make me run.

    So, here I am at 54+ contemplating not only running a 5K, but IF I survive 5K moving up to 8K or heaven help me, 10K.

    I can only blame menopause mind — because there is no reasonable answer to why I would do this. I don’t know WHAT Steve blames for his crazies —- Oh wait — I know — he’ll say I made him do it. LOL

    • Menopause is the strangest phenomenon. Can you believe it! For years women couldn’t even talk about it for reasons of propriety. Good grief, if I couldn’t talk about it, they’d have to lock me up. A word of warning – if you combine menopause mind with thyroid brain and a soupcon of ADD, life is a circus. OR, in other words, welcome to my world.

      Having lived with two runners, I know all the addictions that can develop with running. If I do actually lace up my sneakers and jog from the couch to the mailbox (a span of 25 feet or so), I’ll be shocked. BUT if I get to the point where I’m buying protein powder and shorts made of that special wicking fabric, well, then, well…then…

  4. Two years ago I could barely run 1/2 a mile. I had never been a runner and I didn’t think I had the capacity to be a runner. I was fit in other ways but,no, running was not for me. But there was that little voice in my head that sounded much like yours seems to sound. Now I can run 15 miles and I can do it at a decent clip. I’ve taken 3rd and 2nd place for my age group in the last two 5K’s I’ve participated in. It feels awesome and I have become convinced that anybody can run if they want to and if they’re patient enough to build the mileage slowly.

  5. I have run, I have walked, I have spent 2 years going to the gym for aerobics class, and of all the things I have done, the one I like best is swinging in the hammock drinking beer.

    I like the feeling of being physically fit. But, Sloth is my natural state.

    Every one “should” respect their own natural state.

    Except for the evidence of exertion, I loved your post.

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