On the Run: Week 1

It’s not unusual for me to encounter fifty other runners during the course of a three or four hour workout. And the thing is, they’re so, well, runner-y.

  • Days Until Anthem Richmond Marathon: 78
  • Miles Run: 41.22
  • Heroes Discovered: 1

“Did you see that girl?” I asked, excitedly, on one of my morning runs.

“Yes,” my friend and sometimes run partner answered, “What about her?”

“She was so normal.”

I apparently live in the hilliest neighborhood in the suburbs of Richmond. Five years I’ve lived here without ever noticing that the Alps have nothing on my little part of the world. Once I started running though, it took less than five seconds for me to realize I needed to get some lederhosen and to practice my yodel if I was going to survive a slow jog down my street. So necessity (not to mention my glutes) dictates that I either join the Von Trapp Family Singers or head to another part of town for my long runs.

Typically, I drive a few minutes into the loving arms and flat, wide streets of the city. The good news is, not only are the streets flatter but they are better lit and probably safer, because there are more people in the city. The bad news is, there are more people in the city.

It’s not unusual for me to encounter fifty other runners during the course of a three or four hour workout. And the thing is, they’re so, well, runner-y.

Now, when I said “runner-y”, the first thing you probably thought was “I hope they aren’t actually paying this girl to write” but the second thing you probably thought was “Ah, runner-y” We all have these preconceived notions in our heads about runners. Runners are long and lean and fit and serious-looking. Picture the people you see crossing the finish line at the Boston marathon. Runner-y, right?

Well, most of my runs are spent looking at either the magnificent fronts or breathtaking backs of people just like that. But me? I’m chubby, with short legs and pink hair and, most of the time, anyway, a big smile. I am decidedly unrunner-y. Most of the time, I don’t think about it. I mean, I’m out there like everybody else, right? Sometimes, though, I feel like someone has let a Shar Pei onto the Greyhound track.

That’s why I was so enthused when she ran past.

She was wearing only very practical nylon running shorts, a sports bra, and had plenty of jiggly bits coming out the tops, bottoms, and sides of everything. She was so imperfect that it was perfection.

“She’s my hero,” I finally concluded, out loud.

I looked down at myself in my big shirt, chosen for its body camouflaging abilities rather than its functionality or comfort, which I carefully readjusted every block or so lest someone see the vulnerable parts that I was trying to camouflage. I looked at the black pants I was wearing in the oppressive heat of summer that I’d rationalized by telling myself that black is slimming and pants hide a multitude of cupcakes. And, finally, I thought “No more.”

You know what? Shar Peis are cool, fun, and they sure as heck don’t wear oversize collars to cover up their superfly wrinkles because they feel bad about them.

I get up at 3:45am, four days a week, and hit the streets; sweating when most people are sleeping. I don’t stay out late at night or wear high heels or put too much salt on my food or any number of things I feel might keep me from being the best runner I can be.

In other words, I am runner-y.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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