I promised my youngest last night that we’d go for a jog this morning, and I immediately regretted making that promise when I woke up because I had a screaming headache. Since I get them almost daily, I figure I might as well plug on through. I’d never get out of bed if I waited till I was headache-free*. Besides, I'm trying to be a role model of health and responsibility to my kid.
We’ve been thinking of cancelling our gym membership because we’ve been paying for a family membership for years, and we suddenly realized: that gym doesn’t freaking work.
We’re still not healthy, and we’ve paid that place thousands of dollars.
My oldest son has gone once - and I’ve only gone a handful of times - during the last year, but they still keep collecting those auto-payments, and I still sit here, blowing that upper limit of my “Ideal BMI” out of the damn water.
Since I know I'll have to get used to running in the neighborhood, if I really do plan to cancel the gym membership, I agreed to take my son up to his school track so we could run together.
My child lasted until the very first prompt from the British lady in my headphones, who told me, “Ok, you’ve got this: now run for one minute and thirty seconds.” Then he wanted to swing, but he wanted me to watch him, then he wanted to try making it all the way across the monkey bars, and he of course wanted me to watch him.
Meanwhile, I had one earbud in so that I could hear that snobby harlot telling me when to run next, and I was trying to keep one eye on my kid so that I could tell the truth (“Did you see that, Mommy? Were you watching me? You were? Really? What did I do?” - because I obviously have a reputation for lying when asked this question), and one eye on the path, because - well, you know that I’m clumsy AF.
This running outside business is the real deal. It’s September, yes, but it doesn’t cool down in Texas until like November.
I’m used to running in the gym, with its air conditioning and its fan-equipped treadmills. And by “used to,” I mean that I’m not in the habit, by any stretch, of going to the gym (see Paragraph 2, above). In fact, I give myself a little air high-five each time I successfully remember how to get there. It’s just that when I do decide to exert physical effort, I need to be made as comfortable as possible.
I hate being hot. And I hate sweating. Which is a real cross to bear, and is one of my biggest hurdles when it comes to exercising.
Y’all. I am so effing outta shape. I watched my shadow this morning as it plodded down the trail, slow as an Amish drag race. It was so much easier for me a few days ago**. But today, my legs felt like they had rubber bands holding my feet just a few feet apart, making them almost impossible to lift.
My face was burning with the heat from the outside temperature and humidity, and from the fire in my insides. I thought for sure the friction of my thighs would start a fire and burn my kid’s school down to the ground.
Sweat poured and my head pounded with each thud of my feet. I don’t have asthma, but I started wheezing. I just knew I would vomit. Cody shouted to me in his chirpy, peppy little voice, “I never realized how slow you are!” Which he immediately followed with, “I’m sorry if that offends you.”
I was struggling.
I cursed myself for all the terrible things I’ve done to my body over the years, hurling comments like, “Pull yourself together, you bratty little junk food junky. It’s payday. Time to start paying for all those Jimmy Dean sausage biscuits, those late night scoops of peanut butter, all those delicious martinis, you’ve tossed back with abandon.”
I know you’re not supposed to look at exercise as punishment for what you’ve eaten, but I have a hard time positioning it as a “celebration of what my body can do.” Especially since “what my body can do” is equivalent to that of those now-dead baby skunks I accidentally ran over when I was looking up my nose in my rear-view mirror instead of watching the road last week.
But then, as I felt like I might for-real die, and as I wiped my soaking-wet forehead with the back of my pudgy little arm, my butt muscles screaming in agony, I thought, “Here I am, able-bodied, running (“running”) in my safe neighborhood, in a sprawling park among hundred-year-old oak and pecan trees, dew sparkling on the tips of thick, soft grass, with my sweet 9-year-old son on the swings nearby, the sun shining its rays down on him like a spotlight. How dare I complain for one single second.”
Besides, this could be so much worse.
What if I lived in Africa, and had to do this run of mine across the desert, surrounded by nothing but red dirt and hungry wildlife peering down at me from their hidden perches, visualizing me in the shape of a giant, juicy steak?
Or I could be in a third world country, where there’s no safe place - like Super Target - and no Starbucks to drive through after my run. A dark, awful place where they’ve never even heard the word, “macchiato.” ← Sweet Lord, can you imagine?
You know what I got on my run this morning? I got sore muscles, achy feet, sweaty-as-hell undies, time with my boy, and perspective.
Ima sit here today, all slicked up in Ben Gay, thank my lucky stars I’ve got it so good, and relax until my next run on Monday. I’m on a roll, y’all.
*To calm your worries about my chronic headaches, I believe it’s my mother’s fault. Not only because everything that ails us is always the mother’s fault, but also because my mom smoked Salem 100’s Menthol like a freakin’ steamboat back in the day. Our house smelled like a dive bar, and my brother and I are convinced it’s the reason we have headaches and allergies, had bad grades in school, and have relationship issues***.
**I’m going to use this moment to self-kudo. Today was the fifth run (“run”) I’ve gone on in the last two weeks. It’s almost like an obsession for me, now. I hope I don’t get too thin. I can almost hear the catcalls. This must be what Ivanka feels like when The Donald is around.
***My brother and I don’t have relationship issues. We’ve both been married (not to each other!) for about 20 years. But if we did have relationship issues, I know it would be because of Mom’s smoking Menthols.