So this morning I slept in until around eight. I knew that would be a problem, but there is something just full on blissy about not getting up with an alarm. I carried a tired body down the stairs, sore from a new work out and a pounding head ache from truly not eating well yesterday. It was already eighty degrees with high humidity. I knew I didn’t want to go. I thought about waiting until tomorrow, but really it didn’t look any better in terms of weather. After a bowl of granola and finding some summer running clothes, I was out the door by around nine thirty. It was eight six degrees with a heat index of ninety three. Lordy, it was hot.
Originally, I thought I would stick with my plan of extending out to seventeen minutes. I made it about twelve before I took my first walk break. It was so freaking hot. At one point I seriously considered taking off my tank top and running in my running bra. I had seen other women my age do this. However, I am loathe to show what I call my mommy belly. White, floppy, scarred and indented with cellulite, it just wasn’t something I felt the need to have out there. The sun felt as though it was a ray gun burning into my stomach. I regretted not wearing a looser short sleeve running shirt. What was I thinking? Damn! It was hot. I toyed with the idea of stripping it off again. Two misogynistic narratives kept me from doing so. The first being the “nobody wants to see that.” It’s not a perfect little flat belly so really, it should be kept hidden. Regardless of how hot I was and how much my shirt was sticking to me, really just showing it all anyway in a lovely heather gray fabric. The second was the idea that I was running in a running bra to be sexy. You know, the whole idea that if a woman dresses a certain way she is obviously looking for it. Although I reject both of these narratives, and am slightly jealous when I see other woman brave enough to run in running bras without perfect flat bellies, I am not that person. So I kept moving forward. On an up note, thinking about this helped to whittle away ten more minutes of running. But by then I was at the top of the hill and just so spent. I walked for two minutes and tried running again. I didn’t even make it three minutes. I felt defeated and thought for a split second of going home. And then I decided to just walk the distance with run bursts. And then after the first burst of two minutes, I remembered how I started running two and walking one, so I did that for awhile. I continually lengthened my walking breaks, especially in sections where there was just no reprieve from the sun. There were times when I could feel the temperature differential from one side of my body to the other. I was out of breath a lot and never did less than a 10:26 mile, and that was not maintained for any length of time. Sometimes being in the shade gave me the shivers, but it was also lovely. Sometimes, going down a hill I could lengthen my run to three minutes or a little more. But mostly I kept to the two and one. And then two and two. It made for a really crappy time.
By all accounts this run could be considered both a stupid idea and an epic failure. Except the biggest reason I chose to continue with the run was push aside the excuses and just go out there. It didn’t matter that I knew almost immediately that not only was I going to need a lot of walk breaks but I was never going to get to five miles. Not even walking. It didn’t matter that every time I went by a car I saw my mommy belly flopping along. Here is what mattered, I did it. Run, walk, whatever it was, I got myself out the door. And even if it wasn’t a great run, there was still enough running to continue training my body to deal with this, to strengthen the parts of my body I needed to run the way I once did, even if I never get totally back.
And I figured something out in the heat. I don’t think I ever had a flat belly, ever. I have always enjoyed the night life and had the belly to prove it. This is the belly that carried my babies, so on some level it is perfect. But there is something about this running this working out that is somehow tied to my mortality. In the last couple of years I’ve seen people I love really age, some have died. My own peers have begun to retire or talk about it more seriously. My son leaves to go to college in two years, and in some sense is already gone. At five eleven and growing he is no longer the little boy who jumped onto my lap, but rather the young man who has a timer in his head which tells him exactly when a hug becomes awkward. Sometimes he ruffles my hair. There are no more babies in my life, as my daughter starts her last year of Lower School, looking forward to Middle School and (she hopes) a phone. Suddenly, life has gone into hyper drive, and I feel myself catapulting into old age. And I’m scared.