What in the world possessed me to determine that exercise would be good for me? Perhaps it is the fact that none of the clothing in my closet fits me now... or it was just my own sadistic nature that wanted to punish my body for not overcoming my mind and pulling me into exercise any earlier this year.
I've been putting this off... obviously, and now with a new YMCA building going up in November, and my determination to be a member of said facility (and my absolute horror at how I will not only look, but will participate) I figured I needed to get something going on the exercise side of life. I would be mortified, no doubt, if the fine staff at the Y were to have to call 911 and paramedics brought to the facility just to revive me after having treadmilled my way to the Great Beyond. The other reason I have put off this exercise is because it has been so stinkin' hot outside. I'm just too old to deal with heat stroke.
The fall weather has appeared and so I had no excuse on Friday afternoon to continue to put this off. So off to the outdoor track I went. I knew better (oh so much better) than to ever believe that I should attempt to run. Who are we kidding here... I have not run in probably four or five years, and definitely have not experienced the pain of running since I hit this new decade in my life. So... to the local park I went, parked my car, grabbed my keys and hit the trail. I was going to walk two laps... which is about two miles.
There's something uplifting about walking alone through a wooded trail in Middle Tennessee. There are disgusting things too... namely gnats. I hate gnats. I would love to be puffed up and proud to say that I'm certain to have made a fine rugged pioneer woman were I to have been born in that time, but let's be honest. I wouldn't. Why? Gnats. More importantly, gnats and bugs. Apparently I hit the trail and the United Union of Gnat Invaders called their meeting to order and not only encircled me, but followed me through the trail.
Their other nuisance is the fact that if you are power walking (I was probably only semi-power walking) you typically cannot simply breathe through the nose, instead you find yourself gasping for air through your mouth. Can you imagine how many gnats one can consume in a 2 mile walk? I only hope that they are high in protein and low in carbs! Besides, it is not a lovely visual to see a big-boned woman of my size flailing her arms about in an effort to kill as many of these pesky visitors as possible. I can only hope that the flab on my arms will have stopped shaking by the time I finish the walk. I am unsure that this is the case. I walk the opposite way of most people on the trail... I have always liked to be different. I do my best NOT to flail my arms when people are approaching me on the trail, for fear of another 911 call... this time sending the men in white coats to remove the crazed lady from the neighborhood park.
But I press on. I make my way past the senior citizen who could easily lap me if I were not moving in the opposite direction as he; I speak with the young lady and her rather large dog who is bent upon chasing a squirrel up a tree; I nod to the young married couple who are very much in love; and I comment on the weather to the older bleach blonde lady walking the furry yippy dog. She's pushing a stroller without a baby in it, and I can only imagine that it will transport Yippy when he becomes too tired for the walk himself. I secretly wish that the brutish dog with the nose for the squirrel will rid the world of Yippy.
As an overachiever (it runs in my family) I get on the backside of the track during lap one. It is a slight decline of a hill and once I am at that point I get a bright idea. "Hey! I should try to run a little bit. It's downhill. I'll be fine. I'll even set a goal. The Bible talks about running towards the goal... so I know this is what I am supposed to do!" I visualize my goal and I begin.
Five feet later and my lungs are collapsing. My heart is exploding through my chest and I want to vomit. But I have not reached my goal. I will not stop until I reach it. I find a rhythm for my breathing and it begins to get better. I see my goal and I determine that I want to go farther. I look ahead and I pick a landmark. If I can just make it to that tree... and I do! I am so proud. I am also dying. It is a slow and painful death. I see the Grim Reaper through the trees and I wave politely to him. "I can't meet with you right now, I need to do another lap. Hang around... I be back soon."
I am now red-faced and sweating profusely. I meet the senior citizen again and he looks worried. I come upon the young lady with the brute dog at the water fountain and she asks me if I want to take drink. "No (heaving breath) thanks (heaving breath)... I'm fine... " The young married couple stare at me but are too polite to say anything and both the older lady and Yippy gaze at me much like a deer in the headlights. I am overwhelmed by the concerns of my fellow exercise partners.
Lap Two starts out much the same. I'm just walking along... swatting at gnats... squinting in the sun and I get back around to the declining hill. "Hmm... I didn't die my first time out. Maybe I should try again, but I'll start earlier and therefore will have run a further distance. Ready... Set... Go!" About halfway to my goal, my body begins to really put up a fight. Those muscles that have been happily sitting around enjoying pizza, movies or good books have had enough! Specifically that right hamstring muscle begins to wonder what the heck I'm doing. I hear my body parts speaking to each other:
Brain: Okay lungs... come on! Give it all you've got.
Lungs: We're going on strike right now. Find another helper!
Brain: Heart... I know you're pumping down there. Good work!
Heart: Keep your positive comments to yourself, you brainiac! I'm dying here!
Brain: Visual department... you see that tree up there? That's the goal...
Eyes: Any way we can get that goal here quicker? Legs, what do you think?
Legs: We've done a run down of our major compartments. The feet and ankles are with us. The knees are wondering why she's running on asphalt instead of a softer surface, but we may have a problem with some muscle tissue. It appears that the right hamstring is starting to fade... no... Wait! Yep... its gone! DANGER, DANGER, the hamstring is gone!
Brain: Um... Cathy... you might want to slow down now...
Cathy: No way Jose! I'm not to the goal yet, just a few more steps... AHHH (sigh of relief)
Brain: Isn't that the Grim Reaper over there?
Cathy: Yeah... but I don't have time for him.
Hamstring: We're talking with him now...
By the time I make it around to the footbridge (which is aromatically close to the water treatment plant) I turn around and look for the Reaper. He is still in the trees, watching me. He motions for me... I motion back. He doesn't want to walk to me, and I cannot walk to him. We determine to meet back on the track another day. Maybe then we'll get lucky.