I am not a runner.
Actually, I'm not an athlete of any kind. I'm the proverbial red-headed stepchild in a family of tall, blond, athletic - looking Viking descendants. In fact, if I HAD red hair, I might look more like I belong. Instead, I am the manifestation of the pixie (read: runt) DNA and black hair of my Irish grandmother.
I tend to shy away from conflict or else let my streak-of-lightening temper get the best of me. I don't mind playing team sports with my drunkest friends, and credit a fast-ish metabolism with the fact I'm not 400lbs of cookies and craft beer. I am not a marathon-running masochist.
I am not a marathon-running masochist, yet. Godforbid and genetics be-damned, this leopard might just be changing her spots.
A few months ago, in an effort to distract myself from a painful breakup I signed up for the Warrior Dash - a 5K adventure race with obstacles named things like "Tunnels of Terror" and "Muddy Mayhem." Believe it or not, on April 3oth, I'll trade in my high heels for sneakers and flail about wildly with hundreds of other would-be winners in a ... wait for it...wait for it... complimentary Viking helmet!
We all know that "to make God laugh, tell her your plans." Since sending in my entrance fee, I've against all odds become the biggest advocate of hot yoga, indoor rock climbing and have developed quite the index of the best Valley hikes. I've also accrued a new collection of spandex athletic wear I'd previously never have been caught dead in and disposed of a good portion of the unnecessary "stuff" that until recently had held court in every room of my house. Who am I and what happened to Posh Spice?
For the ADD insomniacs like myself who once tried and failed at yoga, making their to-do lists or falling asleep in the Savasana pose, I beg you to try again but this time in Bikram, or Sumit's hot yoga. It is SO HOT and DIFFICULT that I can't possibly be bored and while it took superhuman mental strength to get over that fact that I'm standing barefoot in a mixed pool of sweat, once I did get beyond it, I suddenly began to see my body as strong, flexible, and able to be manipulated in ways I never considered possible. Fun fact here too - Bikram was (is?) an actual person, and Sumit is his nephew - a yogi who took his uncle's style, incorporated his own flow and now seems to be making a mint by franchising all over the Valley. Remind me to become a capitalist Buddhist in my next life.
Like one of those "magic eye" puzzles, the reason why people continue to keep showing up at AZ on the Rocks every week only to strap themselves into an unflattering harness and scale a fake wall of brightly colored plastic rocks miraculously appeared a few weeks ago when my new friend and climbing partner announced that it was time for me to "move up to 5.7's." I met @oddpryc though her husband, a fellow tweeter who insisted we meet because "you and my wife are into THE EXACT SAME SHIT!" Fast forward a few weeks later and under her tutelage, I'm tossing around phrases like "good holds" and "smooth routes" and have tasted the bittersweet fruit of lessons learned the hard way.
Rock climbing is an incredibly valuable way to work out both your limbs and your insides. Did you know for instance, that all those pieces of colored tape attached to the knobs of rock walls actually designate a careful planned path, meant to challenge at a certain level if followed exclusively? That some knobs are meant only for your feet, and some only your hands? That when you can't make it to the top without falling off, if you power through your mortification and keep attempting it week after week, you WILL actually increase your strength and style and later on will laugh at how hard that 5.6 route used to seem? Who knew?
Here is one of my favorite articles on rock climbing for beginners and a hilarious write up of a 60-day hot yoga challenge I read about in Oprah magazine. Suddenly everywhere I look the universe is encouraging my new sporty life.
What began as a simple transference of attention has brought to my life some beautiful, unexpected benefits. Even running isn't as horrific as it used to be, since I've found some amazing sloping trails in North Scottsdale where the twists, turns and wildlife views keep the old motivation from waning too often, unlike trying simply to pound the pavement in the direction of the next stoplight, as many of my real runner friends are apt to do.
So here I am, with 14 days to go until the big race, stronger in body and mind than I've been since high school. I'm pumped to put all my training to the test and looking forward to the ice cold beer I'll have at the finish line. And at least I have health insurance, because Godhelpme I still might break an ankle.