See Klutz Run

Fall Run
Hey! Wait for me! *gasp, cough, cough* Image by KennethMoyle via Flickr

It was sometime around the fall of 1983 when I realized I would never become an athlete.  I was in seventh grade and Coach Cormier was barking at me for refusing to do “suicide runs” (I think he was also ticked at me for claiming that I “forgot” my gym shorts yet again). I stood hunched over at the edge of the hot gym, panting so hard my pigtails were coming undone. My shaking hands clutched my knees, my Toughskins constricted around my waist in a vice-like grip. I could barely carry oxygen molecules from my lungs to my heart and this man wanted me to do what?

I squeezed my eyes shut but the dizziness was still there. “Please don’t make me run. Please, please, please.” I prayed.  My burning lungs cried out in agony as I watched the other kids sail back and forth across the  floor, zigzagging effortlessly like proud gazelles from half-court to foul line and back.

“Darla! Run! Run! Run!” Coach’s voice thundered above the old gym’s rafters.

I gulped and lurched forward, my legs moving out of sync, my feet clomping on the hardwood, my arms swinging awkwardly and my lungs bursting into flames. A haze settled over my eyes and the entire gym began to glow; sweat mixed with tears obscured my vision. I felt faint.

And then I fell.

And so did any slim hope of following in my older brother’s All-Varsity All-The-Time footsteps. It was that sweaty hopeless day in the gym when I knew what I was destined to become: an alto in chorus.

I was okay with that. Relieved.  Earlier that year, I briefly joined the basketball team and became The Girl Who Couldn’t Do Lay-ups.  The timing was a problem. Actually all of it was a problem: the steps, the jump, the lift-off with one foot (which one? I never could get that down) combined with the fact that you had to also throw the ball up into the basket completely baffled me.  So I spent the rest of my public school life sport-less.  But I sang my little alto heart out (making sure I didn’t trip and fall off the high end of the bleachers during concerts).

So it’s with astonishment (and loads of jealousy) when lately I see my friends are into running.  They talk about their distance and their pace and yada yada yada. “I went 3.2 miles today! No wait, 3.25 miles!” Humph.  Runners. And decimals. They think they’re so much better with their cool sneakers and their 5ks and their ability to run in a straight line without tipping over.

I would see them everywhere too, taunting me: At six in the morning, running past my window in the driving rain; at noon, running past me at Dunkin Donuts in the driving rain. Please. What is the big deal? Why on earth would you feel the need to run unless a tiger was chasing you? (And in my case that would be the world’s shortest race.)  I’m not completely out of shape. I have exercised off and on for most of my life. I’ve even walked very fast before.  But to cross over into actual running mode?  Why on God’s green earth would you do that? And could a klutz like me pull that off?

Last year, I was happily walking at an extremely fast clip down our local bike path when a group of Runners blazed by me.  I sniffed, looked down at my feet and my woefully unbalanced legs. Oh what the hell. I trotted into a slow as death jog. I looked around. Was I doing this right? Maybe if I lean more…Hmm, this isn’t that bad.  I jogged a little more. Okay. Okay, this is good. I’m breathing. I’m still alive. I can do this! Two minutes later, I was back to walking. But I was hooked. I gradually increased the jogging and alternated it with walking. After a few weeks, I began to think I could jog a mile, maybe even two. Oh and a 5k! Yeah, I’ll do one of those too. How many miles is that again? Damn, now I have to buy some snazzy running shorts with the Just Do It logo or is it the Livestrong one now? And do my feet pronate or procrastinate?

Soon I was uploading my stats with my nifty Nike sensor to Facebook and bragging I ran 2 miles to other runner friends. Now when it’s damp and cool outside, I yell to my husband, “Ah! Perfect running weather!” and I’m off trucking down the road with a stupid grin on my face. Am I officially a runner now? Sort of, I wouldn’t call it actual running. I do more of a respectable slogging-like motion that resembles Frankenstein after a stroke. But if feels good. So I continue to slog.

My husband and I are registering for a 5k this summer (gasp!) I have to make sure I register or I might not actually go through with it.   I hope I can complete it without tripping. Maybe I’ll leave my Toughskins at home this time around.

45 thoughts on “See Klutz Run

  1. I had to LOL at the gym reference. I HATED phs. ed in school. In the early 80, with an old school male gym teacher, though, it was easy to be excused. All I had to do was tell him I got my period, and I was allowed to sit on th bench. If I actually had my period as much as I claimed to, I would have bleed to death!

    Good for you for slogging!! Keep up the good work! I want to hear all about the 5k!!

    1. I hear ya, the Aunt Flo visitation excuses only go so far. Although that didn’t stop me from trying either. Thanks for the encouragement and I will try my hardest to keep up with the slogging!

  2. I smiled while reading this post (who enjoys phys. ed at school?), and was cheering you by the end. Well done on getting over your klutziness, and your fear of running.

    1. Aw, thanks, Melissa! Don’t feel guilty at all. I still have times when I would rather have chocolate than exercise (actually…that’s all the time) But now I have to make sure I actually stick with it and that’s going to be tough (running, not chocolate) 😉

  3. Margie

    I’m impressed! I haven’t run since I had to chase my kid down when she escaped out the front door wearing nothing but rubber boots. But I suppose it would be a good idea to get back into running – in case my husband ever tries to do the escape thing…

    1. Margie, you made me laugh so hard. Now that is a run to remember. I seem to have a memory of my son doing the same…only no rubber boots, just naked with a binky. Oh to be young and carefree! Good luck with your husband. 😉

  4. Excellent!! I just started running again after. . .15 years? Egads. Just on the treadmill now, so I don’t hurt myself. I alternate too. I think of it as loping. So a 5k, huh? I’ve been thinking about it. Keep us posted!

    1. Your post about yoga is what inspired this one. If you can get through one of those classes, you don’t need to run! Seriously, you rock. I would die in there, give me sloooow peaceful yoga anyday.

  5. I loved almost every sport in school, but running… oi. I just went with a friend yesterday and walk/ran the telephone poles. Came home and just wanted to sleep, much more than normal. Now I know I’m sick with a cold! Running did this to me, I just know it. 🙂 But I will be going back out tomorrow morning to try again.

    Great post! Have fun training for the 5k!

    1. Good for you! Yeah, I slept a lot too. It’s amazing though how when you first start out, you really feel like you might have to call a paramedic after a few minutes. But then gradually your lungs adjust and you can actually get through it without the need to stop by the side of the road to get CPR. Finally, you actually start to LIKE running. I know, it’s crazy! Who knew? Like someone told me, anyone can run a marathon, you just have to train and put in the hours, that’s all. (I still don’t believe it though)

  6. I am a horrible runner. I recently tried my hand…er, feet…at it again. STILL not a runner. I love me a good walk though.

    Any thing that involved more than a few seconds of running…so not my thing.

    Keep up the good running for those of us not at all runners!

  7. Love this! I definitely could relate (you’ll understand if you read my “Let’s Play” post a few days ago). I played in the orchestra as my “sport”! I’m impressed that you pushed yourself beyond your comfort zone. Now I do yoga and t’ai chi and feel pretty proud of myself!

    1. I really enjoyed your post, I had never heard of the spud game before. I’d be good at the catching part, not so hot at the running. I could trip over a blade of grass. And you should be proud of yourself, I’ve always wanted to try t’ai chi. Yet another thing to add to my list!

  8. I always hated gym. HATED it. I liked volleyball and basketball and that was about it.

    There is something to be said for running though when it is on your time and at your own free will (and not because there is some psycho phys ed teacher with a death wish on your head).

    I love running! I can’t say I am good at it or that I go huge distances but it helps me meditate and it gets me out of the house and away from everything (ie my 3 crazy kids!).

    Which reminds me, I need to get back into it now that winter is finally over!

    ~L. 😀

    1. You said it, Laila…I love that peaceful feeling I get when I hit my stride. Get in that “zone”. It’s just me, my breath and the trees. It is a form of meditation, so peaceful. I have to laugh because Jim suggests I put Julia in a jogger stroller and I tell him, uh, no thanks…how about you watch her and I go run by myself. 😉

  9. Good for you! I hate running- love ice skating. If I could ice skate all over the place, I’d be in great shape. I like walking, but not in the rain; and it’s rained 29 out of 30 days since last September. Maybe I should move to the southwest.

    1. Ah, ice skating! I know this is hard to believe coming from a klutz, but we used to ice skate down at a pond when I was a kid and I was quite good at it. That and roller skating. Haven’t done either in a long time.

      We’ve had rain here every single day for 2 weeks so when the sun finally came out recently, it was heaven. It reminded me of living in Olympia when I was in college. One winter I swear it rained there nonstop for over two months. But all that rain made everything so lush and green. I really miss the Northwest.

  10. Obviously, what was true in 1983 is not true today. Congratulations, Darla. But when did your husband start running?

    My favorite sentence:

    “…panting so hard my pigtails were coming undone.”

    1. Thanks, Charles. That’s funny, that is the one sentence that just flew out of my mind without my thinking about it.

      My husband has been running off and on for years. He’s the type who can just jump right back into things. He’ll do nothing for months, then suddenly start running and get up to 4 miles a day no problem. Must be nice!

  11. “So I continue to slog.” I love it. Part of me is sad you’ve joined ‘that’ group. (smile) But, the selfless part of me is proud of you. Good for you for getting out and giving the sport another try. Congrats on the 3K. For my 25th birthday, I rain The Peachtree Road Race, a 10K run every 4th of July in Atlanta. I plan on running it again… maybe next year. Too late to run this year.

    Well done, Darla! ~ Lenore

  12. Hi,
    I’m also not a runner more the “power walk” type, even when I was younger I was the one that was last or close to it. I love your enthusiasm, and good luck with the big 5k, I’m sure you will both do well.

  13. Priya

    All the very best! I have no doubt though that 5k will not be long in coming. If you began jogging the way you did, 5k is just a slightly longer run, Darla.

    PS: I’d like to hear myself say the same thing to me while I am making every excuse under the sun for getting up from my couch

  14. Funny- I learned to run at the ripe old age of 25 . . . from my then 55 year old mother. Until that time I was the same P.E. fearing girl as you (except for swimming, which I did competitively year round).

    For some reason as you get older everyone – even the non-athletic – gets into running, but no one ever comes around to swimming. Since I barely move my post-baby body around on land or in the water, for that matter, I’m sick of hearing from these mid-life runners and their never-ending clocking of miles (especially now that you can see it on their Facebook status updates through the Nike app). But not you, of course! Good luck in the 5K 🙂

    1. Swimming is something I would love to do but I usually end up just treading water or floating on my back. To be a real swimmer would require putting your face in the water and I refuse. 😉

      I hear you on the facebook app thing. I often wonder why people post how many miles they’ve run. Maybe it’s because running is relatively boring sport so they’re trying to jazz it up a little. Or maybe runners are trying to say, “Hey, look at how crazy I am! I ran four miles and I wasn’t even outrunning a lion!” (more likely it’s to brag, lol)

  15. The Compulsive Writer

    This was great! Suicide Run…love it. Though I’m having a hot flash thinking about those preteen years, running around during PE. Ugh…middle school was the worst! I love the way you write!

  16. reading this brought me back several years to when I was in gym class in elementary school and accidentally hit my male gym teacher in a very “sensative” spot with a baseball bat. haha, whooops!

  17. Yay! That is exciting! My husband and I signed up for a 10k the end of June. Making slow progress toward my goal as well. It does feel good to run. I tell this to my husband, but I really want to make it a part of my life. I don’t think I’ll attempt many long runs, but sign up for a 5K or so a year, to keep motivated. I think that’s what it takes. Signing up for races gives you some accountability! Good luck! And enjoy the donuts 🙂

  18. Have you ever ran in those natural shoe things that have toes? Barefoot running, I think it’s called? Those kind of freak me out.
    A friend of mine recently started running but he calls it going for a joddle (jog + waddle = joddle.)

  19. Mary the OINKteller

    Yay! A convert! I hate running but having completed my first race (a relay in which I drew the glory leg), I can say that the thrill I got crossing the finish line made all the horribly dull training runs worth it. Almost as good as my first orgasm after years of pretty boring sex. Thankfully, my husband does not read your blog. Wait, that sounds bad. Nevermind. What I want to say is, Good for you! Keep running!

    1. ha! Yes! I’m choking on my coffee this morning, thank you! It is so boring and tiresome isn’t it? (running not sex…well, who am I kidding, maybe both) I hope you’re right about the finish line being worth it. I’d hate to be left disappointed and smoking a cigarette afterward.

  20. Nice post,Darla. I’m not a fan of running, but I like to swim and do cardio on the stair-climber, rowing machine, elliptical, and treadmill. I like to walk to cool down. Never got into the running thing though. Hope you’re still keeping up with it. Bob

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