This is sponsored content from BlogHer and The Laughing Cow.
When I first decided to start running over a year and a half ago, I was PETRIFIED of looking stupid.
At the time, I couldn't do a lot about my weight, my gait, or even my pace...but I could make sure that I looked as cute as possible before beginning my run. This meant cute hair bands, full face of make-up (which for me, is not a lot anyway), and of course, cute socks.
The gym that I worked out at had a line of treadmills about 10 inches away from bay windows at the front of the gym. Any passerby or person on an elliptical, stair stepper, rowing machine, or stationary bike would be looking at me, my fat hiney, and its ever-creeping underwear. To be specific, they'd actually be seeing me run for a few seconds, decrease the machine's speed to a crawl, gasp for air while simultaneously trying to pull out a wedgie, and increase the speed to a light jog to start running again (only to have the full cycle repeated).
For the good of all the gym members, I decided to start my running career with running outside. I wanted to be able to change my pace as I needed to - rather than running inside my gym on a treadmill. The added benefit being that any wandering underwear could be put into place as inconspicuously as possible.
At the time, I lived in an urban area, although not quite as busy as where I live now. I'd throw on some running clothes, tie my hair back in a ponytail, shut my door and run up a few streets to the main Highlands drag and then turn around and run back. At first, I couldn't do the whole distance without feeling like my lungs had been set on fire. Seriously, at the risk of sounding like Seinfeld, WHAT is the DEAL with that burning feeling in your lungs when you first start running?
To try to distract my mind from wondering how "real" runners didn't collapse and dry heave on the side of the road on a regular basis, I decided to take routes that were diverse. Along the way, I'd encounter a few stoplights, liquor stores (which allowed me to play the game of "Guess what liquid is spilled all over the ground today!"), and tempting smells. The local bakery with fresh baked bread smells wafting had me salivating even as I was trying to gasp for breath.
But the coffee shop was my favorite. Just smelling the perky brew made me feel a tad less sleepy - especially since I usually wasn't quite all the way awake.
This was especially true one time on my return trip back to the house. I was running down a long street and came to the point where I typically cross the street, when I SWEAR I heard someone shout my name.
The fact that I could hear that above my current song (Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" if you're curious) meant, to me, that someone needed me badly.
I glanced around but didn't stop. I even turned down my music in an attempt to figure out if I was just hearing things or if there really was someone trying to call to me.
"ANNE!" - I heard it again!
So, still trying to cross the street, I looked around me with more fervor - scanning up and down the street for anyone or anything that looked like they were trying to call to me. I didn't see any one who looked like they were trying to get in touch with me...
...and then ran straight into a parked van.
Yes, that's right folks, I ran FACE FIRST straight into a parked utility van.
After bouncing off said van, ponytail askew, I did the whole cartoon double take where they shake their head to clear their thoughts.
Once the little stars had faded, I quickly looked around to see if anyone saw me. Nope. No one. I was in the clear. Woo hoo!
I started jogging again thinking how glad I was that no one saw me and that's when I heard a faint rumbling and purring...like a loud cat. I looked to the right (I still hadn't passed the van fully) and realized that the van's motor was running.
Someone was in the van! And by the look on his face, I could tell that he was just as surprised to have a tall redhead run into his van as I was.
To my recollection, Miss Manners hadn't exactly covered this type of situation, so I really wasn't sure what to do.
So, I did the only thing that came to my befuddled mind: I smiled, waved, and kept running.
In the end, that's what real runners do, right?
To this day, I still don't know what I heard that might have sounded like my name... but wouldn't it be funny if it was someone shouting something like, "Watch out for that parked VAN!"?
Since then, I have realized that when I end up completely red-faced after a great run, it doesn't do any good to put on make-up in the first place. The cute hair bands don't hold my ponytail as well as grippy ones, and the cute socks slide down my feet while running - making my gait anything but gazelle-like. And for the love of all that's holy, I've learned to steer clear of parked vans. Which really, is probably a pretty good rule of thumb anyway.
See Mom? I have learned.
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