Lately, I’ve been running half-marathons. In the past, my running was pretty much limited to airports – getting to the gate before the plane’s door shut. I got started nearly two years ago, when my husband and I signed up to train and run with Team RMH, a fund-raising team to benefit the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford. In November, 2008, I ran my first “half” at Pacific Grove. It was great fun, and I marveled that I could go this distance simply by training pretty moderately but consistently. It’s kind of a lazy-girl’s way of running, without risk of overtraining or getting injured.
Six weeks later, I decided to do another big run. It was just for fun, and I was in high spirits, feeling buff. A supporter of Muffy Vanderbear’s assertion that “Life is one big dress up party” I spiffed up at LuLuLemon, buying upbeat, fast-looking running shorts and a comfy tank top.
Race day came; it was overcast (good!) and muggy (not so good), but I pushed through. The run was well worth the luscious grape Popsicle that I was handed along with the finisher’s medal. A few weeks later, an email arrived from the “official photographer” of the event. I eagerly found the proofs of my finish and was amazed to find what seemed to be an unusually good action shot. Never mind that the “proof banner” obstructed part of my body. I looked appropriately sweaty, the running costume looked fresh and lively, I had an honest smile on my face and my legs and arms looked like they were still in comfortable motion after going the 13.1 Feeling proud and bullish, I ordered several prints. Hell, I was looking good, and why wouldn’t my family and friends want a nice 5×7 of my hero shot?
A few days ago, the big white envelope arrived. I eagerly tore it open and pulled out the prints. My jaw dropped open. My eyes widened. What happened to my left leg? Was someone playing a cruel Photoshop joke on me? Whose leg was attached to my body?? What WAS that thing, and where did it come from? The old Sesame Street bit, “one of these things is not like the others,” came to mind… my arms and the other leg looked pretty much as they had when I started the run at 7:00 a.m. But that “other thing” sure didn’t look like the rest of me. The stacks of material in a fabric store crossed my imagination, too – why did my leg look strangely like a bolt of finely-crinkled crepe? Or was it Silly Putty?
Shock trumped revulsion. Disbelief. Self-loathing. The pain-o-meter got worse when I also realized I’d paid exactly one hundred times more than the prints were worth if they’d been ordered through Walgreens or KodakGallery. I’d been had, willingly. All this, for a picture that could have come from “Plan 9 from Outer Space.”
- Pride indeed comes before the fall.
- Gravity is a Truth; my body is a testament.
- Aging skin is not really attractive, even if you’re in great shape.
- Mirrors don’t show everything.
- Spandex and Lycra are our friends.
- Beware what’s hiding under the “proof banner.”
- Don’t order large prints. The icky things look bigger, too.
One more crepe-y, drape-y insight: some things just aren’t so pretty anymore. No more girl-on-top.