Tamera Schlueter Return to running is ugly, awful sight

Be careful what you wish for. I was thinking of that shortly before sitting down to write this column. I’d just finished running three pathetic miles in 16-degree temps. My eyelids were frozen open and my nostrils sealed shut. Being a bad arse is not always pretty.

I’m two weeks into a running routine I’ve been pining for since undergoing foot surgery in early December. For weeks I hobbled around in an uber-sexy post-surgery boot, dreaming of the day the good doctor would give me the go-ahead to pound pavement. My psyche and waistbands were missing the activity, and I worried about what it would be like to return to running after such a long, sedentary recuperation.

Exactly two months post-surgery, my wish came true when I received the green light to dig out my running shoes. I squeezed into a pair of tourniquet-tight tights, briefly considered donning a disguise, and jumped into the abyss. Well, it was more like wobbling down the street.

Three blocks later I nearly up-chucked my protein bar. This is what I wanted so badly? What was I thinking?

My freshly mended foot was happy-skippy-wonderful. I swear I heard it channel George Thorogood as I chugged along, “SHE COULD TELL RIGHT AWAY. (Insert raunchy guitar lick here.) I WAS BAD TO THE BONE!” It was like attaching a rocket to an Edsel.

My long-dormant legs, however, were another story. “For the sake of humanity,” they screamed, “STOP THE MADNESS!” Spindly arms flailed about like Captain Jack Sparrow on a bender.

My breath came in ragged gasps. My tongue lolled, and lungs crawled through my nose in search of air.

It took herculean effort to keep from flopping into the gutter, whistling a funeral hymn, and bawling like a giant baby. That first post-surgery run was one of the most painful things I’ve ever endured. The betrayal was deep, shocked by the realization that the body is one very rude organism. It takes eons of laborious work to build a decent level of fitness. It takes a few short weeks of sedentary lifestyle to morph into a flatulent jellyfish.

I could have succumbed to my pathetic self, but my stubborn will won out. The next day I hauled my tree stump legs down the street for another three miles. A day later it was four. And on it went, and so it goes. Some days are triumphs. Others are crap. But my entire family is registered to run the Lincoln Half Marathon in May, so I persevere nonetheless. A goal too easily achieved isn’t worth the bother, right?

Hunka Burnin’ Hubby is my running partner, snapping fresh batteries into our uber-sexy headlamps, and keeping me from laying down in traffic when the going gets tough. God bless his heart. Tonight we resembled popsicles as we stumbled through the front door, with frosty hair and icy digits. We ate dinner silently, slurping warm soup down wind-chafed gullets.

I’m writing this column in the glow of a snapping fireplace. My muscles are warm and relaxed … my lungs are basking in the burn of exertion … my eyelids are drooping … my fingers are tapping, slower and slower upon the keyboard. Sleep is enveloping me like a soft, fuzzy blanket. Suddenly, from deep within my exhausted brain I hear the theme song of the appendage at the source of my sorrowful plight. “SHE COULD TELL RIGHT AWAY. (Insert raunchy guitar lick.) I WAS BAD TO THE BONE!”

Yes indeed, the body is one rude, obnoxious, thoroughly wonderful organism.

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