When I left for my walk last night (yes, I've actually kept it up), the weather was a bit cooler than I expected, and I thought, hm, maybe I'll pick up the pace a little. Maybe I'll even … what's the word? Oh, yes … run! With the springy weather, I'd seen people running all over the neighborhood (sidenote: I often see runners when I'm driving around during my lunch hour. Who are these people jogging carefree through tony streets in the middle of the day? They can't all be freelance writers.) It didn't look that hard. I've run before, when I had to. So as I got to the top of the first hill and rounded the first corner, I struck out toward the next block with my heels up.
I was winded before I even hit the straight-away.
Apparently, all those muscles I was using to regularly walk a brisk 2-miler had no use for this slight modification in my stride. Or more accurately, my lungs did not want any part of it. The stitch in my side could have held The Hulk's shirt seams together. After maybe 30 yards, I slowed back down to a walk. And slowed. And slowed. I'd expected to go in intervals of running/walking, but I didn't realize how much slower my walking would be after my brief bursts of speed (for lack of a more honest word).
Once I recovered the ability to inhale painlessly, I set a destination goal. I made sure to do this while I was still walking and before I re-awakened the voice in my head yelling, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING AND WHY?" I picked a point half a block down and started running again. After about ten sidewalk squares, I understood why runners always have that look on their faces. I made it to my goal, but then staggered off my usual course, hoping to make it home with as few additional steps as possible. As I short-cut through the middle school grounds, I flashed back to the unit in junior high gym when we had to run a mile through the cold, muddy, goose-mined ballfields for the Presidential Fitness test and I promised myself I would never, ever run again. (I'm sorry, 13-year-old SAM. At least I wasn't in pleated shorts. Although, on another sidenote, I do now fully understand the importance of athletically-oriented foundation garments. There are both tragic and comic consequences to running in a thong.)
As I neared home, I reminded myself that I had experienced the full pain of childbirth, which involved great physical suffering for hours and hours on end. How could I do that and not manage to run for three minutes straight? So as I headed downhill toward the house, I started up again. I passed five mailboxes before I realized, hey, nobody's giving me a baby for this!
Now, I understand that it takes time to build up aerobic fitness, and I'm fully willing to accept that this is an area I could work on. But as I lay in bed last night, with my muscles content yet my knee joints hollering for the first time in my entire life, I felt validated in my life-long belief that running is for escape purposes only. Or for chasing babies away from suspiciously scheduled joggers.