Running like a Mermaid

I completed my first ever 5K race this morning, so now of course, I have to write about. Why? Mostly because I am not a runner. But also because the cacophony of voices that I had to stomp down footstep by footstep need some acknowledging.

These are the reasons I shouldn’t bother with running:

It’s for rich people. Only rich people have the luxury to exhaust themselves by choice. My people work physical labor jobs. If I’ve got the energy to run for fun, I’m obviously not working hard enough and I should get another job. Go lift some heavy objects.

Or I should be exhausted from housework. Is your house completely totally immaculately clean? No? Then you shouldn’t be running. Go fold laundry, scrub the tile, organize the cupboards, then we’ll see how much running you have time for. Go lift some heavy objects.

It’s for thin people. You don’t look like a runner. It’s embarrassing for your body to jiggle like that. You’re not graceful or lithe, runners run because they can’t do anything else. They can’t play football or box. What, you don’t like yourself as you are? Go lift some heavy objects.

It’s a waste of time. Don’t you have some money to be making and children to be raising? How are you going to devote time away from the truly important things? How long will it take to really feel a difference in your body? Is running putting food on your table or getting your kids’ homework done? No. Go sit down and write something.

All these reasons ran through my head the whole time I was on the trail. I’m sure you can see the theme. I am so lucky to have had Courtney with me. She asked me what was going through my head as we jogged shoulder to shoulder. Like other people I know who are into running, she had to  push through her own set of mental blocks way before the physical challenges started happening. To be able to share it with her as it was happening was amazing to me. “Just say fuck you to all of that, as many times as you need,” she told me. Each step was another fuck you. We finished strong running uphill to the finish line.

I know why I have those strong currents of negativity streaming through my mind. These are life lessons passed down through generations of struggle and uncertainty. To need to run is an admission that I’m not physically sacrificing myself for my family. My life is so easy, I need to find ways to make it challenging? Yeah, that’s some kind of privilege. I can’t shake that feeling, and I don’t think I’m supposed to. What I can do is transmute it to something more practical. Running will keep me healthy. Running will keep me sane. Running will keep me connected to people I care about. Running is not the same thing as owning a Hummer or buying plastic surgery. And I need to remind myself of that. Apparently self defeat comes wrapped in all kinds of noble causes.

I texted my cousin after the race, all giddy with endorphins: “Finished! Feels great, we should do one together!”

She replied “This bitch don’t run.”

“Well,” I replied, “This bitch didn’t used to run either.”



Running like a Mermaid