From a client:
So, the last nine weeks or so have been spent getting ready for a 5K. It’s safe to say I couldn’t run to my car about two months ago. My car is in an attached garage.
My native habitat historically has been an overpriced Crate and Barrel couch. With the help of my coach Laura Conley I got ready for the race. I also enlisted the help of my smart phone and downloaded the Couch to 5K app. The app had gotten all of the requisite aplomb and favorable reviews to justify it taking up space on my already cluttered screen. The C25K (couch to 5K) app automatically nestled itself between my rarely used Snapchat and long forgotten Blogger apps.
Alright. Fast forward 9 weeks. In a rare display of self-discipline, I dutiful did all of the training sessions and even repeated ones where I crapped out mid session. Hauling a lot of excess freight (read weight), most of these runs didn’t inspire mental cutovers to scenes from Chariots of Fire. During most of them I felt like a Russian aerospace company’s ill-conceived answer to a cargo plane trying to take off.
So, the day of the race had arrived (I really shouldn’t call it a “race.” For me, it was at best a milestone or event). Everything was on the line. More was at stake than…
No, something far greater was in play—personal humiliation.
Fortunately, I got that out of the way early. Here’s how. I had lost about 40 pounds by now. It was a cold San Francisco morning—of course, that would be every morning. I decided I should take something warm so I grabbed a hoodie from deep inside my closet. Impeccable planning I thought to myself. I didn’t know if I’d stick with this running thing so I didn’t own a single piece of fitness accouterment except for my running shoes that protected my flat feet from…um…use.
I’m usually a meticulous planner. Not so much in this instance.
I got to the race starting point not knowing where to pick up my race packet. I also got the time wrong and arrived about 2 hours too early. I scored great parking though. Given we’re talking about San Francisco and parking, I started out pleased with myself.
But, reveling in that brief respite from self-loathing was short-lived.
I donned my hoodie and discovered losing 40 pounds impacts your clothing. My hoodie now looked more like a sweatshirt skirt. It was a good two inches below my shorts which were just above the knees. The Golden State Warriors logo splashed across the front didn’t take anything away from the absurdity of the scene. Of course, this was the judgement-free Bay Area so people didn’t pay much attention to me.
If anything, they probably thought I was in some type of sex change transition. Their estimation of me likely only increased because I might have seemed particularly brave. Brave because I didn’t really make either an attractive man or woman. On top of that, I clearly didn’t have the fashion sense to make whichever direction I was going a very smooth process. What courage some might have thought! He/she is just being him/herself!
It was settled then. I was going to run in a giant blue moo moo. I looked like a huge blueberry. So, now that I was channeling Homer Simpson and personal humiliation was out of the way; I had very little to lose.
Did I mention that I did have nice shoes?
The race planning was about as bad as my own. The race started late I had moved my car once already so now my biggest motivation was trying to get all this wrapped up before the meter maids started doing their thing. The only goal I had set for myself was to just keep running. To not stop. To not walk. Just run the whole time.
Things got underway. I hadn’t counted on the hills. Again, poor planning on my part given we’re talking about San Francisco. But, too late for any of that. I’d also forgotten what to do with my wallet, phone, and keys (and this was my janitor set with at least 15 keys). I stuffed all of the aforementioned modern necessities into my moo moo front pocket which then proceeded to bang against my stomach and chest as I ran.
Fuck it. I pulled it all out and just carried it. What’s a little extra challenge. The 5K is about pushing myself, right? What’s a little random extra hardship. So, now I was running in my giant blue sweatshirt skirt holding the modern trappings of manhood—wallet, phone, and keys in both hands.
I turned on my music shuffle and just started going. I ran past a bunch of people which surprised me. I would pass some folks who looked like they were in a lot better shape than me, and they would pick up the pace. I clearly sensed a, “if that dude (or dudette, or dude, oh it doesn’t matter) can keep that pace, so can I.
To make the time pass along, I thought I’d think about things I’d been meaning to get to:
- The FED has to raise interest rates, right? But, GDP growth is tepid?
- Will the western pond turtle make it in the wild or will the introduced red slider send it into oblivion?
- Could I introduced miner’s lettuce as the next healthy green in local restaurants?
- Will the GOP let the Congressional Budget Office score Ryan’s health care legislation?
- Are Dobsonian telescopes right for the amateur astronomer?
- Will umbrella insurance cover me if some kid gets stung by a bee from the hive set up in the backyard?
- Was it smart to buy California Quail online in a self-motivated attempt to covertly reintroduce the species to the neighborhood?
So, that lasted about 10 seconds.
In some spots the course narrowed so traffic got a little heavy. At those points, I decided the thing to be most feared is a white woman with a jog stroller. That’s where you find the dangerous combination of entitlement, speed, and weaponization through battle ram. Took a bit of the fun out of the “fun run” theme, but it was fine.
The last indignity I suffered was my shuffle playing Sister Christian by Night Ranger. WTF? My hands were too sweaty to get my phone off the security screen. I started fumbling all of the stuff in my hands. Again, fuck it. I powered through the 80s ballad wondering how it had gotten onto my playlist.
I finished. I met my goal of running the whole time. I didn’t do it any kind of noteworthy time. But, I did it. I got a lot of encouragement along the way and mild praise for my fashion forward “look.” I think many of the my cohort were drunk before the race started which made things even more fun.
All in all, a good way to spend a morning. Onward.