My birthday present this year was a brand new pair of Nike running shoes. Purple ones! I love them, but I didn’t think about the implication of having a snazzy pair of running shoes. Think about it. Who has really cool running shoes? Either a serious runner who is pretty fast or really in shape or someone who really isn’t a runner at all, but likes the fashion statement. I see myself as the former, but I’m afraid I might just be the latter.
I’ve had to face some pretty sobering ideas as I’ve aged. Gray hair has been hard to get used to especially when I see myself in photographs. Gaining weight around my waist has been no picnic since I always had a small waist until I turned forty. Not being able to have a couple of drinks without getting a migraine has put a real damper on my social life too especially since I live in Wisconsin (the state with more taverns per square mile than any other).
Maybe the most egregious insult of aging though is my lack of stamina. I just can’t work out the way I once did. I used to be able to go for a long run, then come home and work in the garden for a couple of hours, shower, cook supper, and then help the boys with their homework. I told Bruce the other day how I felt about my lack of energy and stamina after I had taken Stella on a run. Afterwards I could only shower and collapse for a couple of hours. He just looked at me skeptically and said I needed to get into better shape so I would have more energy. Can you see my crabby face?
Anyway, back to the purple running shoes. I fell in love with them instantly, but today when I was running, I had the notion that since I had such spiffy shoes, maybe I need to be able to back up the implication that I’m a good runner. I had this notion while I was walking, of course. My friend Amy and I are in a challenge of sorts to get back in shape after the long winter of sitting on our duffs. I end up doing this every summer, but at least this year I don’t have my usual five to seven pounds gained from teaching every year. So far Amy and I have stuck to the plans, and I’m seeing gains in both my energy and my fitness. It’s a painful process but the rewards will be evident long before the end of the summer when I disappear behind the walls of my house to prepare for the winter season of indoor activities.
Although the discomfort I still have after I run will last a while longer, I am beginning to like running again. I started logging miles when I was sixteen to get in shape to play basketball and have been at it off and on over the years. Later in my life I ran to feel good, to sweat out too much beer in college, to shed weight after having babies, to be healthy. I have even run one marathon, The Chicago Marathon, and one half, The Fox Cities Half. But the best running memory I have ever had was when I had the elusive runner’s high. That wonderful rush of endorphins made me feel as though I could run forever with no effort. It has remained the holy grail for me and is the reason, I think, that I remain in a pair of purple sneakers with implications.
What I realized today as I watched my feel hit the asphalt beneath me is that no matter what color my sneakers are, no matter how old I become, no matter how energized I feel, I will always be a runner whether that means I am svelte and competitive or plod along the breakneck speed of a turtle. And I love my purple sneakers!