I’m bad at running. Like, really bad. So bad in fact I’m too embarrassed to run at the gym. At the gym I’m forced to run on a treadmill which means I can’t escape the people who can see me running, poorly. At least on the street I can run away from people or, more likely, they can walk away from me as I lean over, panting, praying I won’t vomit on the Carrollton street mansion’s perfectly manicured lawn.
Everyone tells me, “No one is watching you. Get over it.” Well, I cant. I am watching myself. And if I was walking by someone whose face resembled a boiled lobster heaving on the side of the road I would wonder why that person hated himself so much to inflict such unnecessary pain.
I grew up hating running. I would mark with fear how many days were left until the dreaded “mile test” for gym class. Every year my gym teacher would stand on the outdoor track holding popsicle sticks as lap markers encouraging us to run a mile in under 12 minutes. In eighth grade there was this one smug kid, Jason, who would propel his long, lean legs around the track, circling me and my other friends at least twice as we walked each lap. There were the other girls who had experience in running, or at least had parents who acknowledged that there was a thing called “sports” that existed, and I envied how prepared they were. Namely, they had ponytails, running shoes, and sports bras.
I on the other hand wore street shoes, not even running sneakers to gym, because what did I know? Also, I didn’t own a sports bra and the concept of different bras for different occasions didn’t occur to me (I blame my mother and older sister, thank you very much). It’s also worth mentioning that I had frizzy hair that jutted out in a Roseanne Roseannadanna style earning me the nickname “Mushroom Head”. Imagine all of that, 13 year old Gilda running without a sports bra in street shoes, and you can begin to understand where my hatred of running emerged.
It was this
Skip ahead to New Orleans 2012 when I decided I wasn’t the same 13 year old girl anymore and smug punks like Jason are now the guys asking me for my number. I was an adult! I was able to move across country and establish a life for myself on my own, I could do anything! I owned a sports bra! I had Usher on my I-pod!
There are so many things I’m legitimately good at. Like public speaking. Making new friends. Color by number.
All great things. I so desperately wanted running to be on that list.
But it’s not. I’m just not good at it friends. I’m slow. I get tired after 6 minutes and have to take a serious walking break by 12. I make running ugly.
So naturally, today I went for a run.
And after 2 minutes (2!) I had to catch my breath. Full of shame, I continued walking just to keep moving. And then it occurred to me. Who the fuck cares? I was outside on the levee, the final rays of sunlight playing across the Mississippi River. I wasn’t ready to go home. So I started running again. And then I had to stop. And then I started again.
I did that for another half an hour until it was too dark to see. As I walked back to my car I started thinking about how as an adult I have an aversion to doing something I have no talent in doing. Like math. But there are several things I’m not good at that I still really like to do, like singing or team sports, that when I do join friends for karaoke or kickball league, I have a terrific time. So I’ve decided to start doing more things I’m terrible at. I’m going to try to no longer avoid situations that might cause me humiliation.
Maybe then those dreams when I sign up to sing in the high school talent show and I forget all the words will finally go away.