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January 12, 2008

Learn to Run

When I met my friend Dave for lunch this week I said to him "I’ve done something you’re never going to believe. I’ve joined the Running Room." “I didn’t know you could join a store,” he said. “Do you just go there and hang out? Do you have to show a membership card? When it’s raining do you think, well, maybe I’ll just try on a size 8 to mix things up a bit?” He was teasing me.
“No! It’s not JUST a STORE,” I said. “You can sign up for clinics. I signed up for Learn to Run.” "Don’t you have to learn how to crawl first?” he asks much to my amusement.

When I told my friend Lisa that I got a new pair of runners and that they were lime green she said, "Lime green? Like reflective? Lime green runners?" “Not the whole runner,” I said, trying to imagine my feet looking like some glow in the dark mime feet. "Just the accent color is lime green." We’re both laughing now. "I really didn’t care about the colour," I said. "Those just seemed to fit the best. Or, at least they did before I started running in them!"

When I told my friend Dee (who has run more than one marathon) that I decided to start running she said, "Gayle, I’m so proud of you!" And, when someone says THAT you know, okay, for sure, I'm obese. Someone is proud of me for learning to run. Great. Baby steps.

Now, just to be clear, I hate running. I am one of those people who looks at all those joggers and thinks what’s wrong with them? I don’t even believe running is healthy for poor creaking aging joints.

When I had a car, I used to look at those people who’d run for a bus and think I’m not running to catch a bus. How uncool is that? It's bad enough that you have to take the "loser cruiser" without looking like you really want to be on it by running for it. That was, I’d like to point out, before I TOOK a bus every day to UBC. Then I got it. Then I thought I’m not WAITING for another bus. Catching this one, the one I was about to miss, was as urgent as making the game winning touchdown at the Super Bowl.

Except for when it was absolutely necessary to catch the bus, I don’t think I’ve actually run anywhere intentionally since the spring of 1979. That was the final year I played basketball on a championship basketball team for five years in high school. At that time we had to run a mile in less than six minutes as one hurdle to making the team. And, looking back, I’m not even totally convinced that I made the cut off. I think our coach just faked it for me because by the time I’d reach the end of the mile I’d sound like an asthmatic lung cancer patient.

So, it’s hard to explain what motivated me at this point in my personal history except for those 35 extra pounds. But, that’s not it. I’ve had those for a while now. If it makes any sense at all, I think it has something to do with me finally coming to terms with how completely lazy I truly am and realizing I must choose the path of least resistance to be able to continue with the program.

First of all the store is a mere 3 minutes from my house. I pretty much could roll out of bed, not even stand up, keep rolling and almost make it to the front door of the store.

Next. It’s social. You can talk while you run. Matter of fact they say if you can’t talk while you’re running, then you’re running too fast. (Imagine if you applied that concept at work?) I like that. It fits who I am. I've been talkin and there are really nice people in this group.

Third reason. There’s a whole bunch of out of shape people learning to run with me. Misery loves company.

Fourth reason. All that’s initially required is to run one minute, walk two minutes and do that 10 more times. Even I can do that. I mean, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that the entire goal at this point is to be able to run 20 minutes at a time without stopping. When you write that down it sound almost ridiculous that someone would need to help you learn to do that. But, when you’re putting one foot in front of the other and your ankle hurts from aquafit the day before and your hammer toe is already proving to be problematic and your breathing is starting to sound like that of an obscene caller on the other end of the phone, it’s not.

But, I admit, it does feel a little like my body is screaming with joy that its sloth of an owner finally decided to move it off the couch.

Which is good because it’s dark, it’s pouring, it’s Saturday morning and it’s almost time to run.

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