When I was a mere youngster of 16, I asked the captain of the baseball team to our school's Sadie Hawkin's dance, and once there, said to myself, "I'm gonna marry this guy." Yep, 36 years later, I'm still with him. So believe me when I say I can stick with something.
It's no different now when I have a passion for running. After I took those first tentative steps, I realized this was for the long term. By golly, I was going to run or die (it was a toss-up there for a while.)
I started off with an old pair of stretchy shorts, a cotton t-shirt and some sneakers I'd had for years. As my distance increased, I discovered those shoes really hurt. A quick trip to a running store and an evaluation there revealed I was wearing shoes almost 2 sizes too small! Who knew I was Bigfoot?
As for the cotton t-shirt...well, I've already revealed how much I despise "glowing" -- the delicate Southern term for gentleladies' sweating. That cotton soaked up my glow in no time flat and in summer was like a heavy wet blanket glued around my midsection. Then I discovered the most fabulous invention of all time -- wicking technology! Wicking products remove sweat from your skin, leaving you cooler, and keep the clothing drier and lighter. As God is my witness, I'll never wear cotton again!
My husband says now I have every running accoutrement known to mankind. When I'm interested in something, I do diligent research. So I own a modest (in my opinion) amount of running "stuff." Well, ok, my stash of stuff has grown. In the beginning, I simply held a bottle of water and my iPhone. That was no good, because in a few miles you don't want to be carrying things, you want your hands free. So I bought an armband to hold the phone and a belt to hold the water bottle. But the big bottles uncomfortably whacked my hips while I was running. I'd come home black and blue. So I found, much to my delight, this awesome little bottle which attaches to the hand by velcro. I don't even have to expend energy to hold it!! And now I have a much thinner belt with a tiny pouch so I can hold my Sports Beans or Gu Chomps, if I go on a long run. These replenish electrolytes when I've glowed a little too much.
Stylin' like Fergie... here
Of course I needed something to keep all that glow out of my eyes. Ever seen the old movie Broadcast News when Albert Brook's character finally gets his big break and subs for the weekend anchor?? Yeah, that's me, only magnify it by about 1000.
So I bought some headbands. Every one flew off my oddly pointy head until I hit upon the Nike ones with the rubber grips. Finally, something to sop up the sweat!!
In the beginning, my knees hurt a lot ( I had never even exercised before.) My muscles weren't built up enough yet to support running, so I purchased knee braces in hot pink. They helped tremendously until I strengthened my knees.
Yet another amazing product is wicking socks. They are genius -- because when you run, your feet swell and sweat a LOT. But these socks keep the moisture away so your feet stay dry and comfortable the entire run. Cotton socks will give you blisters, so make sure you've got wicking ones.
And lastly there is: the Garmin sports watch. My husband bought it for me as a gift to support my running. I was salivating over this watch for 9 months. It had everything I thought I wanted. The heart rate monitor (to make sure I wasn't pushing myself too hard into a heart attack), a gps system (I am always lost), wireless downloading of all the data to my computer and much, much more...Yay-uh!!
Except now I must confess -- I am totally technologically challenged. I am a Neanderthal on the computer. "Me press key? (Grunt.) What key do?" So this watch gives my husband his daily quota of entertainment as I prepare to go on a run.
I assemble all these items in preparation for my run. First, it takes me a good 10 minutes just to squeeze into my compression tights (they fight muscle fatigue). Do you remember when we were kids and we would draw that picture of a light bulb, which in reality was supposed to be a naked woman getting into her girdle? This was the height of hilarity for 10 year olds. THAT is what I look like trying to squeeeeeeeeze my body into the tights. Next, I do that awkward jumping-up-and-down-trying-to-get-gravity-to-force-all-the-jiggly-bits-into-a-funnel motion. There is MUCH jumping and wriggling. Then I have to take a few minutes to recover, because I'm blue from lack of blood flow to my lower extremities.
Once I have winched myself into the tights, I put on the sports bra (I will give no details here)and wicking shirt and then I'm ready to load up on the "stuff". Put the iPhone into the armband, slide onto said arm, then struggle to fasten velcro with one hand. Plug in earphones. Strap on watch, put on Road ID if I'm running alone (in case I'm lying gasping by the side of the road). Socks, shoes -- check. Headband on, and if it's dark, a headlamp and Knuckle Lights, high-beam flashlights that slip over your fingers so you don't have to hold them. Then the velcroing water bottle. By the time I'm ready to run, I weigh an extra 50 pounds.
I feel like a Marine at boot camp, throwing on my weighted pack and going out for a 30-mile run. "I don't know but I've been told...." My legs feel as heavy as gold? It's %$#@ to run in the cold? Patsy Albrecht is really old? When it comes to Marines, I guess I'm the Gomer Pyle of running.
But, back to the Garmin and entertaining my hubs. He usually accompanies me to the Y and walks the track while I run. So while in the car (yes, I'm aware of the irony of driving to a place to run, thank you), I am trying to fire up the ol' Garmin. I turn it on, then I have to swipe the touchscreen for it to locate the satellite to get the gps to work. I swipe, and swipe, and swipe, and swipe, and after about 150 times doing this, it begins to locate the satellite. That can take a while. So by the time it finally finds it, the energy saving feature turns on and starts beeping at me. I have to press the right button to make that stop. I push the wrong one. I start the timer instead. I try to turn that off. Wrong button. That starts the nifty little feature this model has -- you can race against yourself. Yes, it uses data from a previous run and a little man appears on the screen and runs against you. One problem -- I'm in the car riding, and don't want to race Mini-Me. So I try to turn this off. You get the picture. While hubby is driving, he is beset by a volley of beeps, chirps, flashing lights and cursing wife. By the time we arrive at the Y, I am ready to throw my Garmin in the trash.
But once I get the features straightened out, it is finally my time. There is nothing like running at night -- it's as if it's just me and the universe out there. This track is dimly lit, so the stars sparkle brightly overhead. It's quiet, usually just the two of us. Sometimes I turn the music and flashlights off, and run as if I'm the only soul alive. The solitary sound is the crunch of my shoes on the gravel, and the steady rhythm of my heart and breathing. The wind is blowing through my hair, a huge moon is looming overhead, the air is fresh and cool, the trees are swaying in the soft breeze -- and it is magic. I am free, suspended between the black velvet of the night sky and the dark, sweet, comforting earth below.
Yes, I'm committed. Unequivocally committed to the clarity, peace and joy that running brings me.