I haven’t run in ten days. It might as well be a year. As the name of the blog is runningawayfrom49, without the running part, I don’t have much. I usually run every other day but these last two weeks I have fallen short. Skipping just one run means the difference between zipping up your jeans without a problem versus cursing at your kids for their messy rooms when really you are angry about your jeans.
Speculating as to whether or not your jeans will fit is more stressful than President Obama announcing North Korea’s crazy idiot leader is testing nuclear weapons on our country. You are at Style Defcon 1. In your 40s, it is easier to find an underground bunker built by a doomsdayer than to get back into those jeans. You can starve yourself. You can attack your core. In reality, the only way to zip up those jeans ever again is to spend a week in the bunker with no food. You can blame the unzippability of the jeans on the dryer but deep down in the depths of your newly couch potato’d soul you know the truth.
It began with being too busy on the weekend for my morning run. If I don’t run in the morning, I may spend the day in running clothes, but I will not run later. I tell myself, it’s okay, the same way North Korea Guy tells himself it’s okay to play with nukes. I will run Monday after work. I’ll leave the kids fending for themselves (translation: fighting); they’ll be happy I’m not yelling about their dirty laundry.
On Monday my friend Kate invites us over for tacos. I didn’t take anything out for dinner because I was planning on running and it would be selfish of me to blow off Kate. I don’t run on Monday. Tuesday? Although I didn’t run Monday, I am accustomed to Tuesday being a day off. I don’t run Tuesday. The rest of the week is a myriad of excuses. It’s a slippery slope. Before I know it, I am ordering cheese fries at my kid’s baseball games and finishing off the candy bowl at work. At this point, I might as well buy stretchy pants and schedule gastric bypass surgery.
At first, I feel more relaxed with all this extra time. I amble around the garden, stopping to smell the roses, relishing the tranquility of the late afternoon sun. There aren’t any real roses in my yard, I am speaking metaphorically. I do spot the weeds I wouldn’t have noticed if I had been running and although I don’t actually do any weeding, I take note.
I stop at the farmer’s market on my way home from work stocking up on fresh vegetables to make homemade chicken and fennel soup for dinner. I meticulously chop carrots, celery and onion; I season the chicken with herbs. Although I don’t actually make the soup because I forgot the fennel, I have done the prep work and that is half the battle.
I greet my boys off the bus with oreos and milk eager to hear about the trials and triumphs of their day. Instead, they grab Twizzlers and Mountain Dew, mumble something with their mouths full, before heading outside to play football. Although they don’t actually confide their innermost thoughts, I am here if they decide to share.
After dinner (not chicken fennel soup), I have a bit more energy from not running and decide to tackle some work projects long overdue. Hours later, I am amazing at Scramble with Friends while the mountain of spreadsheets piles up.
Have I developed deeper relationships with my kids? Slowed down to appreciate life’s tender moments? Eaten healthier? Achieved more? Sadly not. I am out of shape and unaccomplished. My neck hurts from spending too much time hovered over Scramble with Friends and the weeds, oh boy, the weeds are bad.
When you haven’t run in ten days, you torment yourself about how impossible it will be to get back into the game. Your favorite jeans taunt you from the closet and you find yourself snapping at the kids even though they cleaned up and finished their homework. You realize if you don’t run, the North Korean Guy isn’t the only one going all armageddon on your family.
Out of excuses, scared of denim and looking to avoid weeding, I lace up my sneakers. Today, I will run. But if someone invites me over for coffee, there is always tomorrow.