Thursday, July 7, 2011

Past Deadline: Esther Williams of Running

I’ve got running on the brain. Sorry.

This is because I have signed up for my Very First Race Ever – the Perth Kilt Run on July 2 – and it is mere days away.

On one hand I suppose it’s kind of neato that I’m doing this four decades in, but on the other hand, sometimes it feels about two decades too late.

Recently I wrote about things I have learned on my almost-two-year running journey. This covered topics such as, you know, not doing stupid stuff like eating a five-course meal immediately before running, not running while drunk and, of course, choosing water over coffee on a running day (caffeine is not necessarily going to make you run like the Energizer Bunny).

Yes, it took me two years to learn stuff like that. Sigh.

Now, however, as the Kilt Run creeps closer and closer, I have new concerns. You’d think one of them might be about the 8K (5-mile) distance, but I have trained and I can do it. I don’t necessarily enjoy it, though. I’m ready to go home after 5K, and those last three are laborious – not glorious.

Nevertheless, I have learned to pace myself. It’s a race – but not. I am going to wear my turtle earrings on Saturday to remind me that “slow and the race.”

One of my big worries is about the kilt itself. I ordered it months ago. What if it doesn’t fit? How will I fix it in time? If it’s too big I’m sure an elaborate arrangement of safety pins and/or a belt might do the trick, but I suspect that is unlikely to be the problem. If it’s too small, do I go at it with scissors and elastic bands? Call a seamstress hotline? Can my dad fix it? (I know my mom would just laugh about sewing.) Will a tantrum do the trick? Should I just weep in a corner?

Similarly, what to do about a shirt? What if it doesn’t match my kilt? I mean, I’ve looked at the tartan online, but sometimes a screen doesn’t do the real thing justice. I hope basic black will do the trick.

Also, will I get trampled by the 900 people who will finish ahead of me or should I just start at the very back and try to work my way forward?

Another concern relates back to the enjoyment factor. When I run, I would like to look as if I’m liking it at least a little bit because, you know, there is this giant spotlight following me around to single me out of the thousand other runners. People will say, “Nice girl, but she doesn’t seem very happy.” Perhaps I have some sort of latent wish to be the Esther Williams of running – always smiling and waving – except maybe not underwater so much.

Speaking of self-absorbed, I am also a bit of a solo runner. I like to crank up the tunes and think Deep Thoughts™ (snort!) while I run. When accompanied by 1,000 other people, though, it occurs to me that someone might want to talk, and that will make me lose my breath. I’m considering wearing a T-shirt (a black one? a green one? an orange one?) that reads: “There will be no talking or chit chat of any kind, only Esther Williams-style smiling.” In case I can’t decide on the colour in time to get it printed, though, I just want everyone to know that if I don’t talk to you, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s just that it might kill me.

Oh, and another thing – germs. We have done our bit to maintain the world’s germ pool this spring, but it would be just my luck to be afflicted before my Very First Race Ever. If that happens, I am moving to a remote island with a bottle of Lysol for the summer. Actually, I might do that anyway.

Clearly, the things that are concerning me now about the race are, well, not really related to running at all.

With any luck, next week I will be able to tell you about the actual experience! (“Yes,” the readers grumble, “with any luck.”)
Published in The Perth Courier, June 30/11

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