First this. A local runner who is on the board for the Monumental Marathon / Half-marathon made this you tube video to promote the next race in November. I must express my gratitude for him making this video and not making me look like a total ass….which isn’t easy to do. I think only Michelle’s photography skills and this video have been successful in that endeavor. However, I do need to address a couple points in this video.
First off, I remember right after the race when the camera man said “How was it?” and I replied “Tired.” Which actually doesn’t even answer his question properly for one, and second, as soon as I said it I was like, “Really Spitz? ‘Tired’? That’s all you could come up with? Your moment in the sun and you spit out the most trite and expected response ever? Good job moron.”
Secondly, I’ve never seen myself run until I watched this video. Now, I remember going out too hard at the beginning of this race (workin on that) and I remember I was hurting during the last couple of miles….but damn! As soon as I saw myself running I could only think, “Hey! What the hell! What are you doing?! A recovery run?! Pick it up you lazy ass! RUN damnit!” I mean, really, I look like I’m not even trying. That’s lame. I’m workin on that too. Regardless, the video is pretty good…thanks Aaron.
Speaking of how I look during running, we come to this post. I’ve had some thoughts about this post for quite some time, but I’ve been reluctant to actually put it on the internet as I haven’t quite come up with the best way to convey this without sounding like a completely self-absorbed, arrogant ass. I mean, I still don’t have a good way to express this, but you’ll just have to take my word that I’m not trying to be a total dude.
With that said….I’m sexy! Wait..that didn’t come out right.
Ok, so I’m finishing my run today when a car drives by and someone yells out, “Woo! Sexy!” Without missing a beat I respond, “I know!” and keep running. I think they were just kidding, probably responding to the clothing, or lack thereof, I was wearing at the time…just some shoes and running shorts, which is to basically say shoes and underwear….bordering on Speedos. I think they might have even been men in the car, which in no way would imply that they weren’t serious, but by the tone of their voice I think they were kidding. Regardless, they said it and I agreed. Thank you.
This is the thing. All my life I’ve been known as the human equivalent of The Tawny Scrawny Lion (man, I hang out with a toddler a lot), which is to say extremely skinny, like skin and bones skinny. I think I’ve been referred to as “skin and bones” more than anything else. And I guess I internalized that perception of myself. It didn’t help that I was 5′ 2″ all the way up to my Sophmore year in high school, so that probably had something to do my self-image as well. Add to that the cultural association of “sexyness” being clean shaven, well-tanned, uber-muscular demigod porno stars and all I ever wanted to do was avoid any relation to the term. Now, although I rejected that image, I didn’t have any alternative to base my own self-confidence off of, nor could I find the ability to simply accept myself for who I was. It became an issue for me for quite some time, getting in the way of relationships and intimacy. Finally, after being involved in some more supportive relationships and finally working up enough courage to give dominant culture the middle finger, I started to break out of my shell and accept my self-image for what it really was. I began to appreciate my intricacies and unique physical traits, which had the added effect of gaining appreciation from others as well.
Then something even better started to happen. I actually started using my body. I think I first started noticing small changes when I was a bike messenger for two years, developing stronger leg muscles and defined bicep muscles, not to mention early-season tanned skin. Then while doing a lot of physical labor ripping a fence out of my then gf’s backyard and swinging an axe around like a lumberjack I started to notice my arms getting even more defined. Soon after I got a job in the union as a carpenter and both my arm muscles and chest muscles became bigger and more noticeable, which was as encouraging as it was creepy. I’m so not a dude, but the direction my life was taking was not only putting me smack in the middle of dude culture, but was also altering my body into dude-like shape. I was kinda uncomfortable with that. Then I quit the union and started running again.
For the past two years my body has changed more completely and in a way I’m more comfortable with than it ever has. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, running is a “total body workout”, altering the shape of nearly every part of your body, arm muscles, leg muscles, core muscles, heart muscles, brain muscles, and who knows what else.
At first I didn’t really notice it, but I started running into people who kept commenting on how much weight I had lost, which is amusing since I didn’t notice I even had any weight on me in the first place. My favorite comment was when a friend said, “Man, you are the ONLY person I’ve met who had a child and then LOST weight.” Well, after my son came was when I started running. So there you go.
As the months went by and I kept running consistently I started noticing other changes. My calf muscles became more defined. Excess weight in awkward areas disappeared. Certain muscles got smaller, but more toned. Then something weird happened…just the other day actually.
I was sitting, slumping actually, at the computer when I rested my hand on my abdomen and felt something funny. “Wait…what is that?” I felt bumps…like abdomen muscle bumps…quite pronounced ones. I got a little excited, but then realized I was probably flexing them in that position, so I sat up and felt again…they were still there! Hot damn! Granted, they are hidden under a little protective coating of blubber and body hair…but damnit they are there! Those hill workouts are certainly paying off. I guess I got them at the right time cause one of my running buddies just informed me that we need to start doing stomach crunches to catch up with the other “buck and a quarter” guys we run with. I don’t know how serious he was about it, but I’ve already begun…and man it sucks. I hate those things.
So yeah, all of a sudden not only did I appreciate my physical image for what it was, but I also developed a personal image of what defines “sexy” for myself. It’s not to say I put myself on display for others, but simply that I’ve overcome dominant culture’s expectations and instead created a sense of confidence for myself, on my terms. That’s pretty damn sexy if you ask me.
I now realize this process has been in the works for quite some time, pretty much right after I started running, and a humorous side note to this is that even before I had developed this sort of confidence I had also developed a complete apathy to others perceptions of me. I’ve often heard that you can’t fake a long run. Distance running requires honesty, which is true on so many levels..one of them being appearance. No matter my lack of confidence in my body at the time, as soon as I did a couple runs in 80 degree heat that shirt came right off, and never went back on. Insecurity be damned, running makes you sweat!! I was forced to be honest with my body and just take it for the sake of running improvement. After awhile I really really REALLY didn’t care.
Now I’m quite amused at what I must look like on the run and how much I don’t care. From time to time I’ll pass people on the trail who look like they’ve run a total of 10 yards, hair perfectly in place, not a drop of sweat on them, holding perfect form, and then the smell…the horrible smell of PERFUME or COLOGNE….while RUNNING!!! Blasphemy. It’s really gross and I have to laugh, because I’m on the other side of the trail with nothing but shoes LITERALLY squishing with sweat, shorts that are soaked clean through like I had just peed myself, my bare hairy chest also glistening with sweat, my long hair soaked and tangled and flopping into my eyes. I really must look like death, but I feel like a superhuman…and that’s all that matters.
And when I get home, regain my composure before stepping into the shower, I’ll sometimes catch an image of myself in the mirror and admire my body. Again, not in the self-absorbed, arrogant sense, but rather simply admiring the rewards of all the work I’ve been putting in, all the miles, all the sweat, all the oxygen debt. Runners most often weigh the success of that work by race times and PR’s, but we can also see it in the shape of our bodies. There is nothing to be ashamed about that. We are all beautiful, if only for trying.
10 easy recovery miles. Preparing for tomorrow’s Tuesday night workout.
Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, turbinado), Coffee
Lunch – Pasta with veggies (cauliflower, brocolli, peas), Banana
Dinner – Pasta with veggies again
Snacks – Peanut butter and jelly, soy latte, water, soy milk, Oatmeal Raisin cookie, Some awesome fruit and nut and tofu dessert made for Michelle’s birthday