Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Like being born

According to 20th century folklore, the laws of aerodynamics prove that the bumblebee should be incapable of flight, as it does not have the capacity (in terms of wing size or beats per second) to achieve flight with the degree of wing loading necessary.

I had this in mind the first time I went running.

I am 31 years old, 5ft 3inches tall, female and weigh 231lbs.  According to...well, everyone, I shouldn't be a runner.  And truthfully I wasn't sure I could be.  Running has had a painful place in my past.  In fourth grade, people told me I was slow.  In seventh grade, the track coach told me I didn't have a runner's attitude (although what I think she meant was that she didn't like me.)  All my years in soccer, I played defense because my coach said I was slower than the other girls and had no stamina.  But in  2008 I read a passage in a book, "Vein of Gold" by Julia Cameron, that inspired me to try running because it was something I had dismissed as "impossible" for me based on the assessments of others.  I had never run to see how it FELT.

I began running as part of a rather extreme excersise/weight loss push.  I wanted to have a third child, but felt that I needed to lose 40 of my 219lbs to safely do so.  I cut my calories from nearly 3000 to 1800 a day, and began doing yoga, a Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred, and running.  I would work out over an hour a day.  And this was not gradual.  I jumped into this regime with both feet and hit the ground "running," if you'll pardon the expression.

As one might expect, after about 6 weeks and a 20 pound loss, I tried to lift my daughter one morning and my back just shorted out.  I was incapacitated for over 2 weeks, and couldn't start regular excersise again for three months.  I lost hope; then I found it.  In the same way, I had lost 20 pounds and then found them again. 

Fast forward to 2012; I now weigh 231 lbs and have that much sought after third child.  The pregnancy went supremely well, all things considered.  And now that child is a year old.  Now what?

My sisters in law (not a one of them over 150 lbs), had begun trail-running.  I was jealous.  No harm in admitting it, really.  After a time, I was given "Born to Run" and read it.  It inspired me, but it was not my true catalyst. 

My husband decided to try running as well, thanks to his sisters and brother talking it up (and the neatness of the aforementioned book).  So he went up to Logan to a hard-core running store.  The guy watched him run and advised him on what shoes to buy.  I waited for him at my sister-in-law's house, talking and feeling the jealousy turn in my stomach.  He came back and said, "Your turn."

"Really?" I asked with genuine surprise, "for shoes?"
"You want to run, don't you?"
I did indeed.  So my sis-in-law took me to the store.  I was wary of entering.  I doubted that there was a single article of clothing inside that would have fit someone half my size, and was afraid of the prospect of running in full view of another human being. 

The salesman put me at my ease and asked me to run barefoot.  The self-consiousness was suffocating.  But I was relieved when I turned back to see he was crouched down and watching my feet. 

"You run really well."

I must not have heard him correctly,  "I what?"

He spoke louder, "You run really well.  You land just like you are supposed to, and you barely have any vertical bounce, uh -" the look on my face made him choose different words, "Your head doesn't move up and down all crazy."

He then made some suggestions for shoes and as I ran in each pair, he made more comments.  But near the end he said, "You're going to have an easy time running.  You're doing everything right.  I can't believe no one has taught you to run like that." 

I was too shocked to respond with my whole painful history.  I just paid for my shoes and left.

Two weeks later the shoes came in.  I had kept reading, and even watched a few "Natural Form Running" videos on YouTube to make sure I was going to start of right, not repeat stupid. 

So there I was again, and I tried on my shoes.  I ran in my shoes on a treadmill.  They felt fine....but I really wanted to test myself out.  I had looked up the C25K running program and learned all about interval stuff.  Back at my sis-in-law's rural abode, I laced up for the first time and set off down her .25 mile driveway. 

"Lean forward at the ankles until you have to catch yourself or fall," my bro-in-law's voice started me off.

"Land on the midfoot; cycle your legs through with a forward motion," the video guy repeated in my head.

"Walk for a bit; don't get carried away or you'll get hurt." That one was my husband.

"Move forward, letting your body remember what freedom feels like - until your feet barely touch the ground and you can bound beyond all dangers," that was a dream I'd had since I was a teenager.  I had always thought it was an emotional metaphor.

I was wrong.  It was literal.  God had been trying to teach me to run. 

And now I was.

I was finally running like me, which turned out to be the "natural form" way.  My other brother  in law said later, "You don't have to look like a dancer to be a runner, but you can still run like a princess."  I naturally took a sort of mincing step that landed midfoot  and pushed me forward.

I felt....aware.  There is no better way to say it, and any similies or examples would sort of cheapen the experience.  I cannot explain later how it felt that first time to run like me and know that I was okay.  Only awareness that I had reached something.  And it was reaching back. 

 Despite my troubled past and a size that screamed "you're going to hurt yourself!",  running and I were about to become very good friends.

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