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Two Million Millimetres

July 10, 2011

A certain amount of time ago, a man purchased for his daughter a pair of brand new, absurdly expensive running shoes. For various poor and uninteresting reasons, the daughter didn’t start using them right away, and they sat beside her shoe shelf, blindingly white, reflecting light as they reflected the daughter’s laziness, guilting her daily, but not to a point where she actually did anything about it. The shoes did enjoy a temporary gig during a recent hike up a mountain, and that experience, successful in its way (no time records were broken, to say the least, but the summit was achieved eventually), further prodded their 31-year-old owner into really doing something about getting into shape.

Today, having rolled out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to the erratic rhythms of the upstairs neighbours’ motherfucking dog yapping its asshole face off, I decided to finally launch myself into my new identity as one of those people who jog in the morning.

I’ve always been pro-morning. It’s uncorrupted by any of the inevitable interpersonal screwups I will accomplish later in the day by saying or doing something weird. Nothing painful to reflect on or analyze. No disappointments. No poems refusing to get born. Morning is all coffee and possibility.

(I almost wrote “senility” instead just then; “serenity” and “tranquility” got tangled up in my head…)

And while Vancouver and I have our differences of opinion, it’s undeniably pretty on the outside. I live six blocks from the Pacific G.D. ocean and walkably close to Stanley Effing Park. Not taking advantage of this is something I would probably look back on and regret as an old person, or even as a youngish person were I to ever not live here in the near future. Thus and so, I slipped on some comfortable clothes–

“Sorry to interrupt, but can you actually jog in khaki shorts?”

Yes! You can and you will. And while we’re on the subject of running attire, you can forget about a sports bra. It’s going to be a flimsy La Senza thing that will cause you to rue your gender throughout the duration of your fitness acquisition experience. Remember in grades three through six when you got a red ribbon in skipping at the elementary school track meet? Those days of glorious unencumbered freedom are long over, my friend.

Six blocks later I arrive at the race track foot path (It’s not a competition!) and cue up a gangsta rap playlist on my iPod. And I’m off! Look at this! I’ve always been a fast walker by nature, and whoa, running is even faster! Is anyone watching me right now? I’m so graceful and excellent! I’M A GAZELLE, MUTHAFUCKAS!!!!!

This euphoria lasts for approximately five seconds. I then begin to realize how much I weigh. Turns out, it’s a lot! And wow, there is stuff going on in my legs that I never even had a clue about. All kinds of ligaments and muscles and shit in there! I can feel each individual cell’s eyes widen in terror as I continue moving. It is not a pleasant sensation. They’re all freaking out and looking at each other like, “Dude, what’s happening?!”

But in my head I’m like, Fuck it, sort yourselves out, we’re doing this. My heart starts bitching. I try to distract myself by noticing things, like how there’s almost nobody out here, and it’s not even that early, it’s maybe 7:15, plus it’s the weekend. I could have the entire seashore to myself if I showed up an hour earlier on a Monday! This is the Vancouver of my dreams: all the mountains, all the water, all the delicious invigorating sea air (although I’ve got no love for the fish-scented stretches here and there), none of the hordes and crowds that make me want to curl into a ball and crush as much of myself as possible with a pillow in a manner that turns out to have been patented by Temple Grandin in the ’70s.

Two minutes in I’m completely winded, but I’m determined to run a respectable distance, and also every time I see someone coming I feel compelled to speed up a little to make it less obvious that this is the first jog of my life and until five minutes ago these shorts and this stupid bra have been used exclusively as sitting-still clothes and I might pass out.

“What in the name of Jiminy Jesus Whoreson Fuckington are you doing to us?” my legs have worked up the courage to inquire.

DAMN IT, GUYS. I CAN’T ANSWER ALL THESE QUESTIONS RIGHT NOW. Stanley E. Park looked so close a few minutes ago, and now… Gasp. Pant. Rap style music bangs in my ear. I’m starting to find Busta Rhymes irritating. Busta Rhymes! Irritating! This is a totally new dimension of my character.

On the plus side, I had worried that my hair would be in my face, but it isn’t. Double thumbs-up!

The ocean is so big and calm and nice with the sun on it.

Seagulls. Dudes collecting garbage. Driftwood. Occasional benches (Do not even consider it). An unbiked lock.

I’m 200% sure I have cardiac shock and awe syndrome. And sudden-onset leg heaviness disorder. Gods willing, these conditions will turn out to be common and treatable.

Minutes pass. Not that many of them, by any experienced runner’s standards. Eventually I turn around, not quite at Stanley Park but close enough that I feel like I can run back to where I started. Upon entering the shower 25 minutes later I hear myself state, at a regular volume: “That feels so good. Holy shit.”

At the recommendation of a friend whose ODB pseudonym escapes me (it’s got to be either Roxanne or Hypsipyle), I bought an iPod app that alleges that it can have me running 10 kilometres 13 weeks from now, and when I think about it that doesn’t even seem impossible. According to Google Maps, I ran about two today. That’s two million millimetres. Not terrible!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill permalink
    July 16, 2011 9:06 am

    Don’t beat yourself up:

  2. Kate permalink*
    July 16, 2011 10:00 am

    It’s all good, William. I knew I would suck at the start what with never having done this before. A week in, I’m no longer in ridiculous pain, so that’s my first goal accomplished. Doing a reliable 5K per day but about half of that is walking.

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