Bwuk bwuk sigh

I gave up on my goal of being able to run a 5K by June. I kept trying to either do three one-mile runs (with 2 minute walking breaks in between) or two 1.5 mile runs, and the best I could do was 2.7 miles. A 5K is 3.1 miles. (And no, I haven’t figured out how to make the treadmills register kilometers. I’m sure there’s a way.)

Then I woke up about ten days ago, and in my head I felt a push: don’t give up; do four repetitions of .75 miles. I figure that has to be angel-speak, because that morning I tried it, and it worked!

Yay! Goal attained!

By now I’ve done this four times, which means the next step: figuring out how to run outdoors. And finding a 5K without chickening out.

I called my friend The Runner. Ages ago, before I ever even though of running, she informed me she runs alone. “Nothing personal,” she said. It’s her time to put on her headphones and wall out the world, and hey, as an introvert, I totally get that. So when I called her, I started with, “I know you run alone, and I’m not asking you to run with me.”

My request: if you ever sign up for a race, can I please sign up with you? You don’t have to run with me. I just want a partner to get me there.

She was excited for me. “Sure! I’ll run with you! I’ll show you the Angelborough 5K route! Let’s go right now!”

This is when I discovered just how much of a chicken I am, because I cannot do it. First, and logically, I need to learn to run on actual pavement, rather than on a nice cushy treadmill in an air-conditioned gym with speed controls, no hills and my water bottle on the shelf in front of me.

She told me the route, though, and it starts on Main Street (awesome) and then takes a turn by the library, curves over onto Steep Avenue, then makes a right onto Climbing Hill Road, another right onto Twisted Mountain Avenue, and a final turn onto Breakneck Cliffface Drive. In other words, a second loop of roads in Angelborough that are all uphill.

I pointed out, “I’m  slow.”

Her: “You’re not slower than I am. I’m really slow.”

Me: “I’m glacial.”

{repeat 5 times}

Finally she told me her “really slow” time. Her warmup speed is faster than my top speed, and her regular running speed is two minutes per mile faster than I am.

So I begged off the immediate run, and she warned, “You’re psyching yourself out.”

I ran on the street solo for the first time last Wednesday, and new muscles hurt (hills, dontchaknow) but I did pretty well. It was Saturday morning that I faced the horrible truth: I don’t want to run where people can see me.

In the gym, people expect you in the workout clothes, doing your thing. But on the street, regular people will see me.

No one has been anything but supportive to me in this whole endeavor. People most certainly have not said, “Gah, you’re too fat and ugly to run!” or “I’m surprised you got that ass on a bike without it collapsing under you.” When I passed people while jogging outside last Wednesday, I got smiles and not guffaws. And I don’t really care what any specific person thinks of me (if they do actually look at me, well, they deserve whatever horrible thing befalls them.)

But Saturday morning, faced with streets that would have drivers, other joggers, pedestrians, and my horrible body in running clothes — I chickened out and went back to the gym.

I may be able to do a 5K race someday. But I’m going to have to do it invisible. Bwuk bwuk bwuk.



  1. blueraindrop

    you should look for one of the color runs… where they throw colored cornstarch at everyone every so far along the way, some people wear costumes, and everyone looks ridiculous by the end. there’s a ton of them that have come into existence lately. they dont keep time at most of them, and some even have bands playing at spots along the route to stop and watch. and nobody takes things too seriously… most of the people aren’t the usual running sort.

    1. philangelus

      Ken sent me a link to a run like that, only it’s in New Zealand, so I’m not getting there any time soon.

      The ones that look least intimidating are the “fun runs” because they usually list as a “5K run/walk.”

      1. blueraindrop

        right now for color runs there’s a ton of organizations that do races in cities all over the us. most of them pick a local charity to partner with and do them as a fundraiser. lemme see how mad I can make the wordpress spam filter… lol!

        a lot of places have caught the fad and are doing ones that are just local too. might try googling for color 5k (nearest large city).

        one of my classmates actually got her community service hours the past two semesters by volunteering to throw blobs of color at people at two entirely different races here… and is doing a third in october. lol

        1. philangelus

          WordPress did make me approve it, so you succeeded in making it mad. 😉

          Two of those organizations do seem to upcoming but as-yet-unscheduled runs near me. I’ll have to keep checking back, because that does look like fun. 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Mom

    Trust your instinct, g oback to the gym….and wait. You will know when it is the right time….and then you will be fine.

    1. philangelus

      I think Monday I’ll be able to do it. It feels more anonymous during the day when everyone’s either at work or at school. I only passed three or four people when I was out on the street last week (and a half-dozen cars.)

  3. nantubre

    Dear Philangelus,
    Darlin’ your reference to chicken is all wrong. You’re not a chicken if all you do is bwuk bwuk bwuk. Your a ckicken if you say “Look look what I-I-I-I did !” And when you think about it, a chicken ‘talks’ like that after they have laid an egg – what an awesome accomplishment!
    I admire your determination to run, which is something I have never been able to do. At all. And I too think it is a good idea to go back to the gym. But not because you don’t want people to see you. Believe it or not, nobody is going to think a thing about someone jogging down the street. Don’t worry about it. I bet if people do notice you once in a while, they will also notice your progress!
    Blessings to you

    1. philangelus

      I’m pretty sure you’re right, that no one would even notice one more jogger, no matter how slow and ungainly she is. It’s all in my head, but I absolutely gave in to the cowardice this morning.

      Monday. I told myself today when I went to the gym that I’d do a street-run on Monday.

  4. Ken Rolph

    If you do go on a colour run wear a cap. This was suggested to me by my daughter and her friends. It keeps too much coloured dust from getting in your eyes and on your face.

  5. cricketB

    A challenge. Next time you’re out and about, count the number of joggers you see. They’re part of the scenery. You will be, too.

    (I have to admit, though, yellow-armpits is a bit much. Same with too-tight or see-through-thin or century-old spandex. Paint and dirt is fine, even a bit of fraying around the edges, but at a certain point it’s time to grab something from last year’s sale rack. Simple stuff that’s never seen spandex.)

    Wear it with pride. You’ve earned it!

  6. Cherilyn Michener Reno

    Running in a race is different from running alone on the street. When you are alone on the street, there is only you to look at–running a race you are part of a crowd of people and no one is looking at any one runner.

    I ran/walked my first 5K two years ago with my sister and brother-in-law. Once you actually do it, I predict you will be hooked.

    1. philangelus

      I’m still not able to do more than 2.7 miles on the street. I think it’s the combined factors of weather, wind, rough pavement, and the inability to closely monitor my speed. :-b But I’m working on it.

  7. Cfraz

    I felt the same way when I began running on the street. Wear a visor, it helped me feel a little more anonymous. And sunglasses.

    1. philangelus

      That’s a good idea. I’ll wear my baseball cap.

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