Moms of Stillwater: Running at my own speed

Moms of Stillwater
Moms of Stillwater

I’ve got a good set of jazz hands. Well-trained; just enough shimmy, but not overzealous.

And I can throw down a good tap combination as well.

But, if you see me running, be assured there is something chasing me … and closing the gap quickly. For heaven’s sake, throw me in the back of your hatchback and hit the gas.

I have some beefs with runners, mainly that I can’t be one. I can’t be part of the club. The “I-can-exercise-anywhere-because-my-stuff-doesn’t-jiggle” club.

The “neon-bras-are-acceptable-outside” club.

Running is simply not an acceptable way for me to move my body. Especially in public.

I have known this for a long time but am too stubborn to accept it. And, let’s face it, Stillwater is not the easiest place to get started gracefully.

There are a lot of hills.

And a lot of trolleys.

“Keep it up, honey! You are doing so great!” says the 85-year-old woman hanging from the trolley window.

Meet the saddest cheering squad ever. A trolley filled with elderly (albeit encouraging) women on a Stillwater historical home tour has been tracking my workout for … well, only two blocks. But, uphill blocks must count as more! And they can tell (no doubt from the wheezing ) that this is not a routine workout.

Vocal encouragement, like, “Keep those leggies moving!” is meant to spur me on to the next block. But all I can picture are mini-wieners struggling beneath me, and I fight the urge to vomit into my neighbor’s hedge.

Sorry to fail you, ladies. These leggies are better suited for flat ground.

The only thing I seem to attract while running are animals. I’d like to say it’s because of my graceful gait, but I’m afraid it has more to do with a sense of desperation. I’m easy prey, like lunch on a very slow conveyor belt.

I have been pooped on while running.

I have been hissed at (and not just by humans).

And my very favorite, I have endured a deer stand-off. Let’s just say he didn’t look intimidated, but I almost lost control of my bodily functions. Not unlike the marathon runners (well, except for the running bit).

I scoffed at the idea that any adult in their right mind would willingly keep running with soiled shorts until I witnessed it alongside my kids at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, years ago.

As you can imagine, such a spectacle did not go by without great celebration and LOUD narration from young bystanders, followed by the obvious questions of, “Why does that happen?” “Why doesn’t he stop running?” and “Does running make you poop?”

I lacked any solid answers and logged another negative side effect of running into my memory. Considering the number of times I have burst into a public bathroom about to explode, I knew I could be very well be the lady in the unlucky yellow running shorts.

So I must have visited the bathroom no less then 12 times the morning of my first 5K. My boys and mother were getting nervous on the shuttle as I mapped out the nearest Porta-Potty to our drop-off location. “Don’t worry Mom, there’s lots of ravines to run into for an emergency,” my son teases.

Ah yes, the sanctuary of the woods. With my luck, I’d meet a bear mid-squat. Best to stick to the path, where an emergency vehicle has access to my body.

And despite my decreased lung capacity squashed underneath three very industrial sports bras, I was running. My leggies were successfully shuffling and I felt, for just a moment, maybe I could join the club. I felt free and strong. Not fast, but strong.

I passed mile marker No. 2, and still was not yet betrayed by my body. I threw back my head and laughed at the blue Biffy up ahead. I had found my rhythm.

Toot! Toot!

And down I go. My foot found the nearest hole as soon as the trolley cheer team appeared in all its glory. Do these people get paid? Am I part of the entertainment? I should really pick up a brochure and make sure I’m not part of the “attraction” line-up.

But this time, I won’t disappoint. With just the right amount of shimmy, my jazz hands declare this tumbling act complete and simultaneously wave the paramedics away. I shimmy as they drive down the hill … and not just because one of my bra hooks broke on the fall. Use what you have, ladies.