So, I just finished week two, day three, of the Couch to 5k program. It feels good...really good.
I've always admired athletic women--the grace and the strength. When I see a woman running, slicing through the wind, she seems to have this freedom, like her body and will could take her anywhere. It doesn't matter whether she is a hard-bodied elite athlete or a soft-bellied middle-aged suburban mom--she is powerful.
But I never have seen myself as one of those women. Throughout my life, I have walked for exercise (which I love) and danced, but always stopped short of doing anything that required pushing hard and training. I'm not that kind of woman with that kind of body...or so I used to think.
In my junior year of college, I took a physical fitness class (at 8 a.m. on Mon., Wed. and Fri., no less) that for one brief and shining moment helped me discover what my body can do if I respect it enough to take time out to let it move. The goal of the class was to build basic physical fitness, which at the time I barely had--except flexibility, I've always been crazy flexible. I couldn't pass any of the day-one fitness tests in class. I couldn't run for 12 minutes. I couldn't do the minute of sit-ups and push-ups. I was 20 years old. My body was young and healthy, but way out of shape.
I stuck with that class (despite having to roll out of bed early on Friday morning) and I started working out at the new athletic facility next door to my dorm. Before I knew it, I was running...actually running two miles every day. And muscles...I could see muscles in my arms and legs. I looked good, but more importantly, I felt really, really good.
That lasted for about a year.
Then, in my senior year, I got a steady boyfriend--and you know how they can take up a 20-year-old girl's time. And then I graduated and went home to mom's good (heavy) cooking. And my hometown isn't as conducive to running and outdoor sports as my old college town. And I started working--nights--on a newspaper copy desk...with a Popeye's right across the street. And...and...life happened. And I went back to thinking what I always thought, growing up as a big-boned, chubby girl--I'm not an athlete. I'm not made like that. I can't do that.
Twenty years later, I've decided that's bullshit. I want to be one of those athletic women that I've always admired. I also want to try to protect myself from the ailments that have plagued my family members as they approach their later years--diabetes and hypertension. (Indeed, I already have hypertension, and have had it since college.)
So, I'm running. Well, walking and jogging right now...but I will run...soon. On Oct. 3, I am determined to, at the very least, jog across the "finish line" at the Run for Congo Women in Chicago. It will be a triumph for me, as well as, I hope, the Congolese women that I am running to help.
Support my run:
Oh, and about Beth Ditto and Gossip. How the hell did it take me so long to discover them? I know Ditto has been all over every third-wave feminist magazine in recent years. And with the launch of her new plus-size clothing line in the UK, she's been the talk of fashion mags as well. But I guess I was only vaguely paying attention, thinking her brand of punky, hipster rock music wouldn't be my cup of tea. My assumption meant my loss. I was missing out on knowing an awesome rock chick with great pipes. Gossips's "Standing in the Way of Control" album is one of my favorite running playlists. It gets my blood pumping, especially "Fire with Fire." I was disappointing that this song came up today durng the walking portion of my intervals. I wanted to "run, run" to it, as Ditto sings: