Approximately 12 days ago, my brother, who lives in Pennsylvania, asked me what he could do to help me get back into running.
“I dunno,” I replied. “I think I just need to get out and run every day for at least 15 days straight to get back in the habit.” I knew that 14 days was too short because, in January, I did yoga every night for 14 days straight, asked my husband if I should really take day 15 off, then suddenly found myself 10 days shy of May with exactly zero more workouts done.
“Okay,” he said. “Should we start tonight or tomorrow?” It was a Friday. I thought of all of the excuses to say “tomorrow” or “never,” but opted for “tonight” simply because of all of the excuses that I knew I still had time to discover before tomorrow or never came around.
That first run … sucked. I hated it. It took every fiber of my being to put on my sports bra. Which really isn’t that unusual because, seriously, have you ever tried to put one of those on? Note that it is necessary to practice dislocating your shoulders while putting it on so you can get it back off again later. After it’s magically turned every bit of your sweat into a thick, sticky paste that allows for no removal. Once that was on, I whined as I searched for one of my two pairs of running socks. I complained as I put my shirt on. I drank a glass of wine. I flailed around on the floor of my closet for a while just thinking about trying to squeeze my mother-legs and belly overhang into my running leggings.
But, eventually, I ran.
One mile. With my dog.
It did not make my life better.
Fast forward to day 12 of my run streak. That would be tonight. If you can believe it, after 10 relatively uncomplicated run preparations and some fairly pleasant runs—including one 5k run—I went through pretty much the same routine tonight as the first night. I whined, I flailed, I drank a margarita. I tucked my belly overhang into my running leggings that I pulled up nearly to the bottom of my sports bra to help contain everything. I delayed as long as I could. Then I ran.
One mile. With my dog.
And I learned three things about running:
- Do not drink a margarita before running.I started off okay. I had my course planned; I had Amelia on her hands-free leash; I was going to take it easy—no need to even shoot for a sub-10-minute mile.Then, after running 0.15 miles, I got a side ache. This is not the first time this has happened over the course of the run streak. But it is the first time I could not run through it. I was pretty sure I had appendicitis, and that my appendix must be in the wrong spot because it hurt way worse on the left side. It was probably my kidneys. Wait … where are those again? Either way: I was dying. But I had to keep running because that nice couple sitting on their front porch with the bull dogs that wanted to kill my dog surely knew that I had been running for less than a minute and a half at this point, so I had to wait until I was out of their eyesight to start walking (and potentially die of some sort of internal-organ rupture).Note: I did walk. Three times. But only when no one was watching. It did make my side feel better, so I did not die. I am not a ghost. This is not a haunting. And I will not drink margaritas before running again. Until the next time I do.
- Do not run in a neighborhood during nice weather. Especially with a dog.For my last few runs, I changed my route from running within my neighborhood to running along the somewhat busy road near my house. But today, I changed my route again. I decided to run in the neighborhood across from us. Because it’s a beautiful neighborhood. Because it’s peaceful to run through. Because I needed something romantic to make this particular run bearable. This was my plan.It went swimmingly. There were kids playing in the park, people mowing their lawns, a group of girls playing with far too many soccer balls in their front yard while their tiny yappy dogs told Amelia off as we ran by (and promptly started walking once the girls were out of sight). Then, just as we were about to turn the corner to run out of the neighborhood, it happened.A little, black, flat-nosed, curly tailed dog came running from the park toward us. Knowing that Amelia has a blood-lust for any dog that is or resembles a puppy, I immediately stopped and told her to sit. For once, she did. The little dog stopped three feet away and stared at us.While I’m looking at the dog, I hear this fat-guy voice. You know the one, the kind that just sounds like the voice box is surrounded by a few extra layers; like the nasal cavity might be a bit plugged. The voice said, “Louie! Sit! Louie! Louie!” The dog was, literally, just standing there, three feet from us, staring at us. Completely oblivious to these words. I looked up to see a surprisingly thin man waddling toward us. (Yes. Thin and waddling with a fat-guy voice. These were all uncomfortable for me, too.) The man yelled at Louie to sit as he chased him around us a few times before the dog headed back into the park with the man flailing his arms and waddling quickly behind him.Amelia and I started running again. Three steps later, Louie was back. We stopped, Amelia sat. Time passed. Words were thrown at the dog. The dog was impervious and eventually ran across the street as Mr Thin-Waddle yelled, “Louie! You’re embarrassing me.” We ran away.
But not before we had lost at least a minute and a half.
- My Garmin watch is not set to automatically pause when I stop running.I looked at my watch as I ran away from Louie. 11:30?? Bloody hell; it had not autopaused. I finished the run with an 11:55-minute mile. This was not okay. So, I decided to run the rest of the way home at the pace I started so I could prove that, had Louie been better trained or on a leash or not a thing that exists, I would have been better. I saved my run that shall live in infamy.And I began a new run on my watch.I ran 0.15 miles before another black dog, Shasta, who is not small, ran up to us. I stopped, told Amelia to sit. And paused my watch. Shasta’s owner came out from the backyard swearing like a sailor because THAT is how you get a dog’s attention. I’ll have to pass that information along to Mr Thin-Waddle on my next run. Shasta left; Amelia and I finished our very short prove-I’m-better-than-that run; and Bryan poured me another margarita.
Here’s to a better run on day 13.