I hate running. I hate stupid running shoes. I hate the stupid arm bands that you can strap around your stupid runners arm so you can insert your stupid ipod in order to listen to stupid runners music while you go for a stupid run. I hate seeing people run along the stupid beach as if they actually enjoy it. I hate stupid runners motivations quotes, like this one:
Some people create with words, or with music, or with a brush and paints. I like to make something beautiful when I run. I like to make people stop and say, “I’ve never seen anyone run like that before.” It’s more then just a race, it’s a style. It’s doing something better then anyone else. It’s being creative.
I’m calling bullshit on that one. Seriously? Running isn’t an art, its stupid.
I hate running.
So yesterday I began training for the Bridge to Brisbane 10 kilometer fun run in September… Yes, i’ll run it.
When I started this whole journey I knew it couldn’t all be just about doing the things I loved as if the next several years were just going to be this bender of self indulgence and fun coffee dates with friends and finding fantastical vintage treasures and reading thick books with small font on the seaside and quoting poetry and appreciating music against a soft lit background as if I was suddenly going to come to a place of self actualization through the arts of this world without actually facing something challenging in this world. Hence: the fun run.
I would rather do nearly anything in this world than that run.
I am unfit. The word ‘unfit’ is thrown around so casually these days, so let me clarify what I mean as when I say ‘unfit’. I mean that if I have a shower, and have to shave my legs and wash my hair during the same shower time, I fall out of that shower exhausted, gasping like a goldfish spilt on a living room rug.
Thursday mornings are the worst mornings of my week because thursday is rubbish day, and if I actually have any rubbish in my big green wheelie bin, then I damn near bend over double dragging it the 6.5 meters from its resting place to the curb.
It is for this reason I chose to do a run. Because this whole thing is about facing the things I know I am weak in (i.e fitness) and challenging it. These years won’t mean anything to me if I don’t, and if we are all honest, no one wants to read about the woman who spent 3 years indulging in fabulous freedom without reading she endured some form of drama or endurance test. Right?
So I picked the one thing I could not imagine completing in my wildest dreams. The 2012 Bridge to Brisbane, which, as the website is so kindly reminding me every time I visit, is beginning in 49 days 18 hours and 51 minutes.
To have only 49 days to go from not being able to run to my own bathroom when i’m busting, to running 10 kilometers will take a miracle and just in case I don’t get a miracle, I began training two days ago.
The first run
On the night I decided to run this marathon, I envisioned training to consist of easy jogs in the fresh, crisp winter mornings. I would be listening to michael jackson on my ipod and passing other people who were running and I would nod my head and smile smugly at my fellow athletes and click my tongue at the people I saw lined up at the macdonalds drive in judging them for being so lazy.
In reality my first run was on Thursday night, which, for those of you living here on the Gold Coast will recall, was raining and cold. I power-walked the first 90% of the circuit I had loosely mapped out in my head and I didn’t click my tongue as I walked past the macdonalds, I cursed it, and myself knowing that it was the loose change menu at that very store that made me fat in the first place. I couldn’t listen to my ipod because the rain was making the earphones too slippery and they wouldn’t stay put. When I felt I had warmed up enough, I turned back in the direction of home and decided to run all the way back. Yes, I was going to run the whole 400 meters home. The first 10 or 15 jog paces were okay, and then it all went very wrong. I started heaving and puffing and my chest constricted and my face got hot and I imagine, very red. I began sweating disproportionately to the physical activity I was enduring and as my eyeballs began to feel as though they were bursting out of my face from the pressure. My extremities started to lose all sensation and since I had penned a 1500 word essay on myocardial infarctions for University a few weeks earlier, I became convinced I was experiencing the very same thing first hand. I was having a heart attack. Lord save me. I had run a mere 100 meters and I was convinced I was dying. This is going to be a long, long and very painful journey.
The second run
I left earlier in the day. It was nearing 4pm and I knew if I didn’t head out right then and there, that it wouldn’t happen at all. My trainers were still wet from the night before. Wonderful. I couldn’t find socks, so I squeezed my feet into my sons socks, and he’s 7 so that was uncomfortable. Everything in me wants to change into my pajamas and watch MTV in my living room wrapped up in a blankie. I hated yesterdays run, and I was going to hate it today too.
Stepping outside I could see we were in the middle of a monsoon. Fabulous. I walked to the edge of the road and stood there in the rain sizing up the task that was ahead of me. Ok Vanessa, you and I both know you are going to hate every breath you take, every step you take and every drop of rain that falls on you while you do but you have to face this because Lord knows you aren’t fit enough to run from it. Lets go.
One step in front of the other, I ran and I ran fast down my street with only the sound of my neighbours whiney voice calling through the rain ‘You can’t go running now! Its pouring!’………………..
It started to hurt as soon as I began, but I didn’t stop running. I was going to do the same track I did the day before, but I was going to run every single step of it. I was controlling my breathing by taking long deep breaths through my nose, and exhaling slowly through my mouth. IN 1, 2, 3 and OUT 1, 2, 3. It was raining so hard the water that ran down my face made it hard to breathe as I inhaled as much water as I did oxygen, but I didn’t stop. I got angry. I got angry at everything. I got angry that I was unfit. I got angry that my shoes were wet. I got angry that my sister had taken the ipod and all I had to listen to were the thoughts in my own head. I got angry I had chosen to wear white shorts and that they were now see through. I got angry that it was raining on me. I got furious that for 14 years of my life I had been addicted to cigarettes and even though I had given up 3 months earlier, my lungs were still burning and struggling to get enough oxygen through whatever tar was left wallpapered to my delicate insides. I got so angry I ran faster and faster and I didn’t care if it wasn’t wise, or if that is not the correct way to train. I was in so much pain that I began to cry. I have rarely ever been in enough pain to cry, but it was agony and I knew I wasn’t going to stop until I got home so I let myself cry, because no one was around to see me and even if they were, it was raining too hard to tell. One foot in front of the other, thats how this is going to be. I thought back to the slogan my sister and I saw written on the back of a red tshirt worn by a beautiful black man one day ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’. I prayed that it was true. That every painful step I was taking was bleeding the weakness out of my body and making me strong. Just as I prayed that every day of pain that led up to me making this drastic life decision was replacing my weakness with a strength…an endurance.
I accepted that I would probably feel this physical agony every day until the day of the marathon and then every step of that 10 kilometers and I was okay with that. Its okay that I hate running. Its okay if I don’t learn to love it. This was the first of many things that I would put myself through that hurt a lot but was for my own good.
I did run almost the whole way you know. I stopped at the half way mark for a minute and stood there in the pouring rain with my face to the sky feeling that I didn’t have another step in me, but only for a minute. I clenched my teeth and ran all the way back home. I collapsed inside and at the remarks of everyone at how soon I seemed to return, I checked the clock. I had only been gone 15 mins. It had felt like a lifetime, but thats okay too, because I ran for 15 solid minutes. 15 minutes more than I could run the day before.
I’m going to go for another run today. And tomorrow, and the next day and the next and the next. If you see a woman running along the road with crying eyes bulging out of her bright red face looking angry as hell, that will be me. Best not to approach me I would say.
This fun run isn’t all about fun and games though, there is a serious side to it which is the fundraising. This year I will be running to raise money for The Black Dog Institute: A service that personally means a lot to me (for reasons that will become clear later on. I will have a fundraisers page set up on monday and will share the link with you all, and if you feel into it, maybe you could sponsor me to run? Even a wee little dollar?
Wish me luck everyone.