People don’t go running in the country. Ever.
I mean it.
But I live in the country. And I go running. So now there is one person that goes running in the country– if you can call what I did tonight running.
There is a recent rash of people I know joining Couch to 5K programs. There are websites and podcasts and probably many other instructional forums that teach a person how to go from slug to sleek. I don’t seem to know where any of these instructions are. I thought about asking my neighbors for advice, but again–they don’t go running. So I was forced this week to come up with my own program for couch to 5K.
Day One: Get off the couch and go to bed. I did that one on Monday.
Day Two: Get off the couch and think very hard about exercising. Then eat Cheetos. I did that one on Tuesday.
Day Three: Stay on the couch and plan the exercises you will do on Day 4. That was yesterday for me. It went well.
Day Four: Get off the couch and do the exercise you planned yesterday. This was today. I ran–hobbled, really–to the Shell station down the road. It is exactly one mile from my house. So if I hobble there and back, I have hobbled 2 miles.
It was 6 o’clock tonight when this plan came together and there was no more avoiding the 5K portion of the Couch to 5K program. It was time. I put on actual running clothes and actual running shoes and I headed out the door with money in my pocket. If I was going to end up at the Shell station, I didn’t want to be limited by being broke. I was thinking I would reward myself with a cold bottle of water.
In my mind, I could envision myself completing this mission. I would be agile. Nimble. Impressive. Not at all winded. And as I started down my driveway, this was the picture in my head that i carried with me. Out on the main road, I shook my head to catch the wind in my hair. I actually had the “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” thing rolling through my mind. There were a couple of problems with making that whole nimble thing happen: (1) I was running on a busy, busy road without much shoulder. This meant that most of my run was cross-country, in a sloping ditch. In the country, there are a lot of ant beds. Jumping over these ant beds on the side of the road was nimble one time. 500 times, not so much. Don’t even ask me about the incline. (2) I haven’t gone running in 6 months. Maybe STARTING nimble was too lofty a goal. Let’s back it up to: Don’t throw up within sight of a passing monster truck.
I discovered a heavily guarded section of road as I lumbered along. It surprised me, too. I didn’t see that one coming. Perhaps the volume of my huffing and puffing kept me from hearing the bounding and barking of the largest german shepherd I’ve ever seen. When I did spot him, it was a “Whoa, nellie” moment and I immediately crossed the road to the other side. But as I did so, I got hit with a two-dog combo unit. A chihuahua and a rotweiler team. GET OUT, was the message. Go home, sweaty girl. People don’t run here. Clearly. These dogs were fenced, so don’t be alarmed. But I wasn’t totally convinced the fences would hold them. They did not like me being there.
I finally made it to the Shell station. I only stopped to double over and pant like 13 times. I retrieved a bottle of water as my reward and then began to think about lunches for tomorrow. We needed Ritz crackers. You know how convenience stores sell those, right? You get one sleeve of Ritz, boxed neatly inside a very expensive Ritz package. It’s like $11 for one sleeve of crackers. Still, I was there. And I needed them. And it was cheaper than the kids buying school lunches. So I took my bottle of water and my skinny little Ritz box up to the counter and smiled at the scruffy fella behind the counter. I decided not to shrink back from people, in spite of my smell and appearance. There are a lot of sweaty people in country stores. Many of them do not even have shirts, so I was way ahead of that game.
He rung me up and I handed him my five dollar bill. He handed me my change and slid my water and my crackers back across the counter to me. What? No bag? I guess this looks like a very simple and portable purchase. I, however, still had that final mile to run. I decided to take what he had given me and not ask for a bag. After all, a bag couldn’t help me now anyway. So, because the first leg of this journey had gone so well, I decided to add an awkward and delicate item to each hand for the journey home.
And off I went, with a half-empty sloshing bottle of water in one had and a sleeve of Ritz crackers in the other.
This was not in my Couch to 5K plan and this is not done in the country. People walk home carrying 12-packs of Miller Lite. They do not run home with Ritz crackers.
There is a reason people coined the phrase, “country mile.” It’s because one mile feels really, REALLY far. There is not a phrase, “country mile with crackers.” Well, maybe there is. But it means something entirely different.