At the age of 35, and having only just begun exercising, I've gotten myself talked into running the Austin Marathon with my good friends Stephanie and Melissa. Find out how in part 1 of "From MuuMuus to Marathons."
Well, it seems I have (barely) survived my second session of marathon training. Once you finish this article, I’m sure you will be as amazed as I am that I continue this torture.
That said, there is some perverse satisfaction in being part of this human mass of writhing quads (that’s marathon speak for thighs) and the music of tennis shoes slapping the pavement. The best way to describe it is imagine a Hershey’s kiss inside of a jaw breaker. You gotta get through the hard crappy part to achieve the ecstasy. But first, a bit about why I'm going through with this in the first place.
I'm Short, Fat & Unathletic ... Says Who?I am 5 foot 3 inches tall. There are 10-year-olds taller than me, and son has informed me most sharks are taller than me as well. I’ve never been able to reach the top shelf of anything, pants are always seven inches longer than my short-yet-shapely legs, and the seat of the car always has to be pulled up as close as possible to the dash in order for me to reach the pedals.
According to my research, which I have devoted my life to since age 17, my perfect weight is somewhere in the 115-pound range. I think I hit that weight in the 4th grade. I weigh in at 212 pounds -- almost a full 100 pounds overweight.
Do you think this gets me down? No. I am always -- always -- shocked to find out I am a fat person.
Now, I am a reasonably intelligent woman. I can figure out how to feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger and two potatoes and I am always smarter than the folks on “Wheel of Fortune.” However, I cannot seem to get it through my head that I am fat. Not overweight. Not pleasantly plump. Not “a whole lotta woman.” Just plain old, politically incorrect, fat.
I’m shocked when I can’t fit into a size 14, when my armpit fat hangs over my bra, when I can’t find a halter top in my size. I am shocked I can only find clothing in Lane Bryant. I constantly walk around thinking I am thin. And now, to add to this, I think I am athletic.
Now you will understand why yesterday was so hard for me.
My Second Day of Training – It Starts Off Easy EnoughI woke up at 5 a.m. ready for my second marathon training session. I was feeling good, even a little health-nut-like, and decide to have OJ, bypassing the coffee. Yesterday, I chugged water like a man crossing the desert, making sure I would be “properly hydrated.”
Today’s goal is two miles. Easy, I thought as I imagined myself sprinting while cheerfully high fiving the other fat girls as I passed them, perhaps shouting a word or two of encouragement in my wake. Men and women alike would be impressed with my muscular legs and shapely bottom. I would arrive at the finish, a slight flush upon my cheeks, sweat glistening on my finely tuned body, whereupon the coach of the Orange runners (the group ahead of mine) would come and beg me to join their group. The purples would be sad to loose me, but would know deep down that I had to “fly."
This time on the 45-minute drive in, I listened to no music. I wanted to get into the Zone. Ahh, another marathon word. Being in the “Zone” is when you reach a zen-like level of determination and concentration where you are the master of your destiny. As I’m driving, I chant things like, “You OWN this, girl,” and “thighs of thunder, calves of glory.” This time saw horses and yuppies do not distract or intimidate me. It’s just me, my trusty old green tennis shoes and the sweet smell of success.
I am the first of the three of us to arrive. I hop out of my car, casually prop my water bottle on the hood and do my best to remember the stretching from last week. Stephanie pulls in shortly and says, “Are you trying to stretch?” Giggle, giggle.
We head over toward the stage for our weekly dose of inspiration and informative tips. Melissa shows up all smiles and looking sporty. We listen to the coaches tell us that the hardest distance we’ll conquer is the eight inches between our ears. We learn the three 20 oz bottles of water I chugged yesterday are not gonna cut it. We should be drinking a gallon a day, but ooops! Be careful for water poisoning. What?!?
After the warm-up, we separate into our skill level groups. To my astonishment, Melissa announces she is promoting herself to Orange and will not be joining me in Purple. Ahh, a moment of a dilemma. Should I join the Oranges with my friends, or stick with Purple where I rated? I could probably pull it out going to Orange, but I decide to stick with Purple as I never found time to do my “homework” running over the week.
As I head over to the Purple Group, I notice middle-aged men with beer bellies and sweatbands (God help me), granola hippy type women with bushels of hair sprouting from underneath spandex biking shorts, and a few grandmas with pictures of their grandkids emblazoned on their visors. Feeling a bit like Venus Williams around a high school tennis team, I saunter over throwing in a lunge or two for good measure. I decide then and there that next week I will definitely join the Orange group.
I half listen to Elaine, the coach, tell us we will need to partner up with someone to make the distance more enjoyable, all the while I’m admiring how nice my ankles look today. She then instructs us on “trail etiquette." My ears perk up, as I’ve developed an unhealthy fascination with Marathon Lingo. She says things such as if we notice a runner coming up behind us (yeah, right) we should shout out to the group ahead “Runner on the right” whereas we shall all immediately form a single file line on the left allowing the runner to leave us in his dust. She then throws in some inspirational sayings about just the fact that we are there is enough.
Blah, blah, blah. I am there to win.