The alarm goes off and I can't help but believe it. As much as I want to hit the snooze button, I can't--alarm is set with the snooze disabled. I could turn it off, but as I pick up my phone to do so, I see the words waiting for me: Get out of bed AND GO RUN!
I typed them in for a reason, for the images they provoke in my head. See, usually I forget that I'm supposed to get out of bed and run. I'll go to sleep, grand intentions of waking up early and heading out the door to exercise. But when the alarm sounds, I think, "Why is it going off so early? It doesn't take me this long to get ready for work. I can still get another hour of sleep."
Get out of bed AND GO RUN!
Oh, yeah, I remember now. I want to ignore it, to turn over and go back to sleep. But I'm already remembering. What I look like without a shirt, how my belly lurches forward every time I sit down, how I get winded walking up a flight of steps.
Out of bed, grab the pair of shorts from the top of the dresser, a pair of socks. Close the bedroom door quietly behind me, so I won't disturb my princess.
Chug some water while I get dressed. Not enough to make me puke, but enough so that I'll stay hydrated.
Out the door, smoothing down my wild hair, trying to not look like an early-morning lunatic.
A light mist falls, and combined with the cool breeze, it feels like this is the day I could run forever. I couldn't of course, and no matter how much I want to try, that fact is something to keep in mind.
I'm too big to go along with my imagination, too heavy, too fat. See, my imagination still tells me I could jump from a building and grab the bottom of a helicopter, if I ever needed to. Pull myself up in a split second and fight the bad guys. In my mind, I am an eternal action hero.
In reality, I can jump about three feet, and I'm lucky if I can do more than one pull-up.
In reality, I'm a fat bastard who is going to have to focus on losing weight one morning at a time. I have a plan.
I will walk further every morning, and then I will run home. As far as I walk, that's how far I have to run. No quitting, no matter what. No matter how bad it hurts, no matter that half the time, it feels like I'm trying to breathe through a wet blanket.
I have a predetermined spot to walk to--about fifty yards more than yesterday, because I'm just getting back into this running business, and although baby steps are embarrassing, they're what I need to do to make sure I keep doing anything at all.
It's a Nike commercial morning, though, where lungs and breathing don't matter, where anyone can run forever.
Except I've got about a hundred plus pounds on those runners from the Nike commercial, and if I run until I puke, I'm pretty sure I won't find the motivation to wake up for this crap tomorrow.
Still, I go about fifty yards further than my predetermined spot--about a football field more than I ran yesterday. Not much, not enough to be proud of, but it's something.
Baby steps are embarrassing steps, but they're still steps.
And then I'm running. Breathing in time with my footsteps, four in, four out, the air cool against my skin, I could do this forever.
Past my predetermined spot, past the point I started yesterday. I could do this forever.
And then it happens, the inevitable return of physics. Air's harder to come by, the weird little pain in the bottom of my foot starts moaning.
Breathing in time with my footsteps, three in, three out, can't manage four of them or it feels like I'm suffocating.
My glasses fog up. I hate wearing glasses, especially hate doing any sort of physical activity while wearing them. But it's hard enough to get myself out of the door in the morning, and I don't want to waste time putting in contact lenses.
From the bus stop, I have no doubt that I can do it. Three blocks left, no sweat, no matter how hard it is to breathe (two in, two out).
There's a slight hill on the last block to my apartment. You barely even notice it when you're walking or driving. But this last leg of the run, it feels like a mountain.
Footsteps no longer graceful, can't even pretend like it. Clomp clomp clomp clomp, pushing hard to continue my pace.
And then I'm there, the end of the sidewalk that signifies my finish line. Harsh breath and stomach lurching--got close to drinking too much water before the run this morning.
You're okay, I tell myself. I'm okay. Up the stairs, forcing myself to breathe through my nose so I don't inhale one of the trillion bugs that hang out by my porch light.
Not much, but enough for today. Enough so that I can do it again tomorrow.