I am now a runner. Well… I guess, as of today, I am a person who owns running shoes. Tomorrow, after I take my first training run, I will be a capital-R Runner.
Here’s the thing: My beautiful and beloved sister started running last year. She trained for and completed a half-marathon this spring, and was in training for a full marathon this fall when she broke her leg. We’d all bought our flights to DC to watch the race by then, so we showed up anyway. I love watching marathons. I love cheering for everyone as they go by, and I always stay until the very last person (followed by the ambulance that marks the end of the race) goes by. It is inspiring.
Anyway, we watched the Marine Corps Marathon at miles 18 and 19 (just across the Capitol Mall; a mile between them for the runners, just a few steps for the onlookers). This means that everyone who was going past us was kicking ass, whether they finished the marathon or not. They all made it to nearly 20 miles! And you know what? They all looked completely different. There were people so thin you’d think they couldn’t run around the block without keeling over. There were people so fat you’d think they couldn’t run at all. People who trained hard and got big muscles. People who trained hard and got lean and wiry. People who trained hard (everyone trained hard; you can’t just up and run 19 miles on a whim) who didn’t look any different from when they started. It gets you thinking: Hey, maybe I can do this.
So, my dad (6’7″, over 300 pounds, 65 years old) and I (5’11”, around 300 pounds, 29 years old) decided to train for a 5K.
We did some research and chose a super-beginner running program, one that starts with buying shoes (check!) and some verrrrry easygoing runs (20 minutes 3 a week, to start – with one minute of running to every 6 minutes of walking!). I’ve been looking forward to the actual running, but I was psyching myself out about the buying of running shoes.
My runner-sister insisted that we get real running shoes. Like, from a running store, one that will analyze your stride and measure your feet and pick out the perfect, ninety-bazillion dollar shoe that will make you fleet and unstoppable. The kind of store, that is, that I imagine to be hostile to a fat person.
Here’s what I imagined: Walking into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. Tripping over my words as I tried to explain that, yeah, um, even though I’m so damned fat, I’m going to run. Trying to do so without equivocating – “Yeah, I’m trying to get in shape so I decided to start running…”. Huffing and puffing on a treadmill as they watched and decided I needed the super-duper-heavy-duty-“keep this chick from falling on her face” motion control shoes. Buying the first shoes I found, fleeing, leaving the super-fit to laugh and set bets on how many runs I’ll make before I quit.
Here’s what happened: I walked into a store filled with attractive, super-fit people in slim-cut workout pants. I tripped over my words as I tried to explain that I needed some shoes ’cause I was just starting to run. I did not make any comments about trying to lose weight or get in shape (neither of which are my goals in doing this). I walked up and down the length of the store a couple of times, as a charming super-fit man named Gunther and a charming super-fit woman named Karen watched the way my feet moved. Was unreasonably proud of myself when they said that I didn’t need the heavy-duty motion control shoes (for people with severe pronation) but the medium-duty stability shoes. Tried on a bunch, with lots of attention and help from charming and friendly Gunther and Karen. Got advice on which to buy. Bought some. Was told that there was a sale on apparel, and when I asked whether they had my size, was pleased to note that Gunther didn’t seem to notice that I might need a special size – and that he was chagrined to say that they didn’t carry plus-sizes. Left, with cheery goodbyes from Gunther and Karen and requests that I stop back in to let them know how the shoes are fitting and how the running is going.
In short: It was awesome. Now I have shoes. I am going to run tomorrow and I am going to be fleet and unstoppable. Go me!