June 09, 2009

I Don’t Feel Like Driving

[Special Bonus Feature: Commuter Challenge blog post!]

I have some karma to make up for—or more accurately, carma. I ended up driving into work twice this month due to unavoidable circumstances, and I made a promise to myself that I would make up for it by running home from work.

This requires a small amount of planning, because I have to leave everything that I don’t want to carry at home—no purse, wallet or jacket—taking just a small bag with my running clothes and a tube of sunscreen. If I forget something I need for the run, I go without it or jury-rig a replacement. (In case you’re wondering, camping, or lost at sea: it is possible to make a ladies’ sports bra out of masking tape and an ace bandage.) The exception to this rule is the running shoes; I forget those, I kick myself all the way home on the bus.

Come 4:30, I duck into the nearest restroom to change. Friday’s run happened to be a two-fer: I was earning extra commuter credit, but also getting a head start on the last training run of the week. And with the Dexter-Ann Arbor Half Marathon looming large on the horizon, I would need every last mile under my belt.

The run goes something like this, and is set to the tune of the Scissor Sisters’ “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’.”

I'm gonna be the one who gets it right
I pick my feet up as I go down the hill. I pass the patients smoking illegally at the bus stop, hear the blue commuter braking behind me. Downhill is only slightly easier than uphill; if you lose your form, you’ll get a backache and shin splints. Also, gravity is eagerly waiting for you to hit uneven pavement so it can laugh at you as you tumble into the Arb. Do not give gravity the satisfaction.

Then why can't I keep up when you're the only thing I lose?
The breeze is cooler in the shade of the building. My shorts start slipping down; I re-tie them at the crosswalk, hoping that means the weight is coming off after all. I catch my reflection in a store window: calves are looking good. T-shirt tan, not so much.

So I'll just pretend that I know which way to bend
OW. Tree branch in my eye. I flip my sunglasses down again for protection, weaving in and out of the crowd at the bottom of the hill. My lower back is cramping a little from the hold; I go up on my toes for agility, feeling like a gazelle, but probably looking like I am sneaking up on someone a mile away.

My heart could take a chance / but my two feet can't find a way
Uphill on Depot street. Must not have heart attack outside the Gandy Dancer; irony will kill me.

If you stick around I'm sure that you'll be fine
Final stretch up Main Street. I cross as soon as possible, ducking down Ashley to avoid the queues hanging outside the restaurants. Also avoiding the delicious smells coming out of said restaurants.

You can't make me dance around…
A bee chases me on Pauline. I give up my walk break in favor of a serpentine wuss run, arms flailing until the stadium is out of sight.

But your two-step makes my chest pound
Allmendinger park is full of people—playing tennis, shooting hoops, watching their kids on the playground. I provide some small entertainment with my impression of Woman Who Cannot Get Up This One Last Hill, Because She Told Herself There Were No More, and She Lied. If I can make it up to Seventh, I will make it home alive.

Rather be home with no one if I can’t get down with you
At the front door of my building, my sister’s dog sits up in the window, sniffing to make sure it’s me. I hear a thump and her nails hit the hardwood as she scamper-slides over to the door, barking impatiently for me to find my key. Once inside, I pat her on the head and pull my headphones off on the way to the fridge. I look at the clock: 5:05. My usual bus pulls up outside the front window, and I smile knowing that I would normally be headed to the gym about now.

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