Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Red Headed Running Girl

There she was.  Running so fast she was lapping the kids who were walking and chatting.  Ostensibly the "running club."  Very few people actually running.  But she was zooming, long red hair flying out behind her.

Months ago, when it was still hot, she would come up to me, cheeks blazing red, sweaty, having run close to 3 miles in less than an hour.  She was so proud, and made running look easy.

So, little by little, I decided that if my 7 year old daughter could do it, so could I. Run.  Jog.  That "four letter word" of sorts for me.

"I have always hated running" I said.  "Ugh.  Shin Splits and foot pain, no thanks!"   Many years ago, a dear friend of mine tried to hook me on jogging.  We went running through the cool night air of the Seattle area.  She didn't have a plan, a place she was going, and she ran easily ahead of me.  I hated it.  The bug did not bite.

My  husband tried to teach me, about 10 years ago on our last serious fitness campaign.  I liked it-- slightly-- better.  We had this discussion about, of all things, 9/11.  On that day, I saw news footage of a woman who had been shopping in downtown Manhattan when the planes hit.  She was trudging, I assume as fast as she could, out of the danger zone when one of the towers came down and that huge overwhelming cloud of gray smoke and ash and burning jet fuel billowed down, enveloping her in its darkness.  From far behind her, a young camera man zoomed, racing.  He was carrying what is probably a very heavy camera, and I assume he had been filming the destruction as he realized the cloud was growing.  He RAN.  He ran past the woman.  He did not get covered in dust and soot-- at least not as deeply into the cloud as the woman who could barely walk, carrying her shopping bags, her precious goods clutched in two hands.  My husband and I talked about wanting to be the person who could run from the dangers.  Outrace the poisonous cloud.

But it still did not stick.

Then, a seven year old red headed girl began running club.  And I begrudgingly found a motivational app for my phone-- the Zombies, Run! game.  It intrigued me enough that I said I would try.  I only promised to do it until the game was over.  I could not, I said, be sure I would keep running after the game was finished.  Yes, the game is super fun and I like the added humor of a game that is about the zombie apocalypse that is training one to potentially outrun the zombie apocalypse.  It's twisted enough that the dark humor kept me going outside, even in the cold, for weeks.  And the story is sweet, at times, and funny, and like reading a good book mixed in with cool songs that keep me moving.

But what has happened, really, that has kept me running at least three times a week, has made me run more than a marathon in mileage since January, has me planning to run a 5K in two weekends with my red headed lovely daughter, is a memory, one that slowly arose while I was running.

Of a red headed girl. Who was very fast, who loved to run like the wind, red hair streaming out behind her.  Who was ferocious.  Who chased the boy who teased her, and was so fast that he needed a burst of unnatural fear speed to get away.  A girl who was lost to puberty, and a lazy young adulthood where a high-ish metabolism kept her thin for a long time and a lazy lower metabolism made her pudgy through grad school.

A red headed girl, who I am remembering every time I go running, and find that I actually have started to love running.  I love the way I feel after, the slow burn in all my  muscles for the rest of the day.  The accomplishment of having racked up specific mileage.  Of getting to know the houses in my neighborhood.  Of running just a little bit farther, to that stop sign, to the next trash can, to the park, before slowing to a fast walk.

All because my little red headed girl found the one I had lost, too long ago.  So when we go on our 5K Color Run in a couple of weekends, there will be two red headed girls, running as fast as we can, at least part of the time.  Training each other to survive the dark clouds that are inevitable in life, but we, if we can, will outrace them, carrying that heavy load and dropping the things that are not vital.

Let's go.  Because we can.


chicago foodie girl said...

Very lovely, Kim.

Alice Kildaire said...

This makes me want to run. I always think running will feel so good, until I do it and then I kinda want to die!