Monday, March 21, 2011

Run, baby, run

When I was young, I called all athletic shoes "tenni-shoes," as in tennis shoes. Then, when I was about 12, I moved to Canada, donned a toque, ate ketchup chips, subsequently becoming brainwashed and started calling athletic shoes "runners" because that's what all my friends were saying.

I also called my dear ol' mama, "mum." It was a dark time.

Now, I call them tenni-shoes or "sneakers," for some bizarre reason. I don't know where I picked that up.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a new pair of watchamacalits at Fort Worth Running Co. They put me on a treadmill, video recorded my gait, and played it back for me as they explained why kind of running shoe I needed. I have no arches and over-pronate, so I needed support. My new Brooks have seen a lot of miles in the last couple of weeks, more than my old tenni-runner-sneaks saw in a whole month.

For the last couple of weeks, I've consistently been running six miles on the Mineral Wells Trailway in Weatherford. My great aunt Alene always tells me she was, is and always will be a two-drink gal. Well, I was a four-mile gal for a long time. Then, something inspired me, or my brain shorted, and I upped to six miles.

I love running, and it's the only athletic endeavor I've ever been even remotely talented at. I'm not fast, at all, and I don't have anything near perfect form. But I have endurance and guts and a sickening addiction to finish no matter what. It's one of the things in life I always see to the end, no matter how ugly that end may be.

I remember when, as a 8th grader, I was running in the 800 meter race (two times around the track) at the city track meet in Edmonton, Alberta. The gun sounded and we were off. The rest of the field was pacing pacing themselves, but since speed have never been my strong suit, I knew I'd never had a chance if I waiting to battle it out in a sprint to the finish. So, I took a chance and pushed out ahead of the pack. At that age, I was usually painfully aware whenever eyes were on me and not too fond of it for a host of reasons including but not limited to acne, sweaty armpits, a bad Jennifer Aniston turned Hanson brothers haircut and overarching, all-encompassing insecurity and self-loathing. But in that moment, it didn't matter. My pounding of my feet on the track, my legs swinging powerfully, the air pushing in and out of my lungs, I felt confident and alone, in a good way. Everything else was a muted blur.

Everyone caught up to me toward the finish. I remember pushing my body so hard and realizing that no matter how much you try, sometimes, there's just nothing left. My dad had once told me that if you pump your arms faster, your legs will follow suit. So, on the home video, you can see me in my Vernon Barford Blues track uniform with my face red as a cherry, my long arms pumping furiously like pistons in an engine, and my gangly legs struggling in a disproportionally slower lope, like a gazelle in slow motion. I was all limbs, then. Still am. I'm the torso-less wonder. Still, I finished third and earned a spot on that podium.

I'm still not fast. I'm an undisclosed amount of pounds heavier. I've dislocated my knee twice. I've broken my sacrum (the back of my pelvis). But I've still got guts, carnsarnit!

This Saturday, I was headed down the trail on the back half of my six miles when a runner came from behind. He was slowly gaining on me. It didn't help that I had to stop periodically to tell Happy it was OK to slide under a fence and get a drink from a creek/pond/puddle/stagnant swamp. I can't really tell if Happy enjoys running with me. After the first couple miles during which he frantically and desperately chases squirrels, rabbits and apparitions of grandeur, he spends the rest of the time frantically and desperately searching for any body of water he can plunge in to.

Anyway, the mystery runner kept closing, which gave me a renewed inspiration to push myself more than I had in a long time. I felt like I was back on the jr. high track. Minus the acne. Well, sort of. As I could hear the closer's footsteps getting louder, I opened up my gait and really let myself fly in the last half-mile stretch. I probably opened up to early because I was audibly weezing and gasping as I gallumped past several other trail-goers. But I did it! I surged ahead and finished a good 200 meters ahead of mystery man.

After I vomited, I thanked the other runner for pushing me and assured him I didn't think he was trying to run me down and attack me. I asked him how far he had run, and he said 8 miles.

8 miles. Hmm. That got me thinking.

So yesterday, I gave it a try, telling myself that if worse came to worse, I could start walking on the way back at what would have been six miles. I headed out, and I'm actually really proud to say, I did it! And, the extra two miles were much easier than I thought they would be. Granted I was running anywhere from a 10-15 minute mile at times and was there half the day, I didn't tire cardiovascularly and only had to momentarily stop twice, once when Happy caused a biker with a dog on a leash to crash and once to balance the universe by personally returning some water to the earth in light of all that Happy had removed.

It's the ciirrrrcle of liiife, and it moves us aaaallll.

Sometimes very inconveniently with no toilet paper available. And poison plants abounding. Nuf said.

What did make it difficult toward the end were my ankles and knees. But I did it. I ran 8 miles, and I think I'll try again this weekend.


  1. Jenni Daniels3/21/11, 12:44 PM

    Wow! Nice job! How much did it cost to get your feet/gait evaluated to get the proper shoes? I get shin splints immdediately when running so I know I need some corrective or correct shoes. :)

  2. Erin, you inspire me. I'm still living in the glory of the mile and a half I ran last week... Maybe if I had new sneaks? Surely then I could make it 8! :)

  3. I just love you! You make me laugh so much! Love your writing!

  4. Way to go, Erin. Your running adventures are certainly inspiring as well as entertaining! Now I want to go check out the Mineral Wells trail...

  5. Jenni, it's free at Fort Worth Running Co. They also have these compression things you put on your lower legs that help with shin splints. They were fitting a guy for them when I was there. They're like these really tight leg warmers that go from your ankle to your knees. They said lots of runners are wearing them, as well as people who work on their feet all day, like nurses. They would make an interesting tan line, though!

  6. I still remember that amazing day on the track at Vernon Barford and I've never been prouder of your gutsy finish. 8 miles is amazing. You'll be running a half marathon before you know it. I know you can do it, too.
    Love you. Mom

  7. Wow Erin! You go girl! I love reading your stories! :) And I am SO glad you explained what a sacrum was. Let's just say, I was WAY off. ;-)

  8. I LOVE the track story. My face turns so bright red when I run that people think I'm about to pass out. After races my coaches would dump ice on my red head.



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