Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chasing my pride.

Watching the Olympics has made it abundantly clear that it takes a lot to be an athlete. Unbelievable determination and commitment, immense athletic prowess, event-specific muscle distribution. The ability to pull off a track suit while looking cute, sporty and all-American.

I am, of course, jealous of all these traits but perhaps most practically, that last one. Being able to do a double back handspring would be cool but, let's be honest, a little pointless. How often would that come up in conversation? Probably not a lot. Being able to wear sweats, on the other hand, would change my life completely.

They're like socially acceptable pajamas. You feel like you just rolled out of bed but you look like, well, you kind of look like you just rolled out of bed too but in a way that is totally acceptable for the grocery store.

Now you know why I'm against sweatpants. It's not that I don't like them, it's that I can't pull them off. Trust me, if I could wear sweats and look sporty-chic like Eva Longoria or a fancy suburban mommy, I would wear them every day.

The sporty look has never worked for me. While some girls can pull on a sweatshirt, a pair of jeans, and sneakers and look comfy and adorable, I look like a lesbian truck driver. All those free t-shirts you get for running a 5K or going to a hockey game? Forget about it. "Oh, it's casual, just wear jeans and a t-shirt." Right. I'd rather stay home than tackle that fashion faux pas.

Also, and this is really embarrassing, I have a chronic wedgie problem. I don't have a lot of junk in my trunk so there's nothing to stop my underwear from slipping and sliding and ending up in my crack. I know what you're thinking, ever try a g-string? Gimme a break. Of course, I've tried a g-string. But here's the thing: a g-string is not going to change the fact that I don't have enough junk in my truck to keep things in place and athletic fabrics are especially prone to relocation. Do you see what I'm trying to say?

G-string + sporty clothes = lesbian truck driver with a wedgie. A sweat pants wedgie. That's not good for anyone.

As you can imagine, finding clothes to work out in is somewhat of a challenge. Not only do I want to be comfortable and wedgie-free, I also want to feel like myself but in an event-specific, I do this every day, sort of way. If I go to Pilates, I want to look like I'm going to Pilates. If I'm going for a run, I want to look like a runner.

This is why I don't usually golf. I have no idea what to wear.

When I started playing softball in 4th grade I wore my entire uniform to my first practice. Stirrups and everything. I may not have known how to throw, catch or hit but you would never know it by looking at me. (Actually, I looked like a complete fool. Everyone knows you're not supposed to wear a uniform to practice.)

Fake it till you make it, right?

Today was no exception. It was a beautiful day, like Nashville had no idea it's the middle of August. I decided before Liam even woke up that it was a perfect day for a long walk/run to the park. The dog and I could get some exercise, Liam could play at the playground, and we could all enjoy some fresh air.

I would just need to figure out what to wear.

If we were going for a walk, I would have worn something I would be comfortable seeing others in. Something I would wear if we were going to the park or the zoo. But since I was planning to run, I would need to come up with something else. You can't run dressed like you're going to the zoo; it makes you look like you're being chased.

I settled on a racer-back tank, running shorts (OK, sporty black shorts that I rolled up until they were short enough to look like running shorts), ankle socks, running shoes, and a pedometer. My hair was in a high pony and my skin glistened with sunscreen. I definitely looked ready to run.

As soon as Liam finished breakfast, I pulled out the (non-running) stroller, found the dog's leash and took off toward the park.

I started off walking but at a pace quick enough to break a sweat. The dog was trotting along beside me and already starting to pant. Considering she's 12 years old and gets winded licking her butt these days, that's not saying a whole heck of a lot. Still, it felt like we were really starting to move.

As soon as I crossed the street and started down the hill to the park, I picked up the pace and started running. By my third or fourth stride, the dog had already tripped over the stroller twice, my pedometer had somehow managed to come unclipped from my shorts and my underwear were all bunched up where the sun don't shine.

I screeched to a halt and readjusted everything. I got my clothes and the dog and the pedometer back where I wanted them and started down the hill again. A few strides later, I was already a mess. Clearly this was not the running outfit I had hoped for.

I kept on running, aware that the farther I went the more ridiculous I looked. My shorts had come completely unrolled and were riding up where my inner thighs rubbed together, my tank top was creeping dangerously close to uncharted belly shirt territory, and every time my foot hit the pavement, my pony tail slipped further down my increasingly sweaty head.

Despite everything, I started to really enjoy myself about half way down the hill. My stride got longer as I gave up trying to look composed and realized I could lean in to the stroller for support. Cloey was panting and stumbling and running to keep up but I think she was smiling too. I couldn't help but laugh and yell out to Liam, "Can you believe pant gasp how FAST we're running!?"

It didn't take long for me to get totally winded (even though I may look the part, I am not actually a runner). The end of the hill was approaching and I kept telling myself, "Just run to the stop sign, stop running at the stop sign." I was almost there when an older gentleman appeared out of nowhere, walking in the direction I was planning to go. Aw, man! I couldn't stop running now. Not only would it be blatantly obvious that I can only run down hill, I would be stuck having to readjust myself while fielding questions like, "Are you walking that dog or is she walking you?" No, I would have to keep going.

I forged ahead, no longer leaning on the stroller for support but pushing it uphill as I sputtered and panted, clothing askew, elderly dog falling behind like, "Excuse me but I thought we only ran down hill?" I glanced back to see if I'd lost him and when I turned back around there was a very sporty looking family out for a walk. They waved and pointed out the doggie to their little ones while I kept right on running like this was something I did all the time. "Pant, gasp. Must. Keep. Running! Pant, pant, gasp..."

As I rounded the next bend and looked around, I saw we were alone at last. "Whew! Yeah!" I did the tapered off run-to-walk move that the sprinters do and then stopped for a moment to stretch my legs on the stroller basket. I felt athletic. Olympian, even. Liam was completely unimpressed but I didn't care. "Whew! That was a great run, buddy. Yeah! Did you see how fast we were going?"

By the time we got to the playground at the top of the hill, I was completely wiped out. Still, I had promised Liam he could play and couldn't go back on it now. Luckily there were no sporty-chic mommies around to snicker at my "running" attire. As Liam climbed up the stairs and went down the big slide all by himself, I eyed the jungle gym with newfound curiosity. If only I had been dressed for gymnastics.


bill said...

no one likes chafing... except donald trump. he likes chafing. keeps him motivated.
reminds me of a movie i once saw where this monkey somehow got in the olympics and took gold. you may not be sporty but you're hotter than a monkey. except donald trump.

Sandra Winfrey said...

Love it! Your writing brings me great joy. Oh ... and I can totally relate to wishing I looked somewhat sporty casual in sweats. Maybe I'm just not wearing the right sweats?!?