Spoiler Alert!


You know the last scene in The Usual Suspects when Kevin Spacey limps out of the police station as the crippled con man, Verbal Kint? He carefully crosses the sidewalk, avoiding people as best as he can, but fumbles through the crowd and hobbles in the same pitiful and awkward manner we've sympathized with throughout the entire movie. Then the camera takes a low angle at the feet of dozens of people; Verbal's feet emerge from the crowd dragging along the curb when suddenly, the right foot seems to relax a little. You think it's a trick of the eye. Is his stride changing? Then the inward angle straightens itself out ever so slightly.  As the camera stays on his feet you continue to see his gait morph. In a few paces the limp ceases and before you know it, he's got a smooth, regular stride. The camera pans up his body which is now moving with surprising grace and coordination - a swagger, even - revealing that he is actually the villain, Kaiser Soze.

That's how I felt on my run today.

It's been over ten months since I've felt "normal" running. I took nearly the first five months of pregnancy off due to "growing pains". See, I was afflicted with what's known as round ligament pain - a common complaint during pregnancy, but one that had me calling the wambulance at the top of my lungs. Waaa! Waaa! Waaaaaaaaa! These pesky round ligaments surround a woman's uterus and attach to her pelvis. In the early months of pregnancy they can cause discomfort in a woman's groin as they stretch and thicken to accommodate and support her growing womb. They feel like a dull ache in the low abdomen and kind of follow the bikini line on a very high-cut, 80's-style bathing suit (think Baywatch). Anyway, they were bad enough that I couldn't make it more than five minutes on a run before having to stop. And this is me, people. I don't walk on runs. For once in my life, I was smart though and listened to my body. I got off land and into the swimming pool, which turned out to be a great substitute (and no, I will not be attempting triathlons anytime soon). By the time I felt good enough to run again though, I was over halfway through my pregnancy and had a significant "bump". I didn't have all those months to get used to and adjust with my growing belly. So, when I went on my first run, it was like I had donned a 20-pound weight vest and was carrying a bowling ball in my middle that was throwing my center of gravity off. There's a natural shuffle to my stride which, when coupled with the "pregnancy waddled", made for an awkward running form, to say the least. I'm sure that when people saw me and my belly lumbering along, they held their breaths hoping against a face plant. Not to worry, I ran on very flat and very soft terrains so that if ever did bite it, I'd have a soft-ish landing.

I'd lose myself during those pregnant runs, dreaming about how after my baby was born, a switch would flip and I'd be running with the elegance of an Arabian horse. My belly would be gone and I'd be a couple dozen pounds lighter but my muscles would be stronger from carrying around that extra weight; the excess oxygen flowing in my veins (thanks to increased blood volume) would be nature's alternative to blood-doping; and that relaxin hormone, which had made my joints all loosy-goosy, would now offer the kind of flexibility and range of motion I haven't had since I was August's age. I envisioned myself floating on the path with an easy cadence and the envy of every "weekend warrior". Wrong. Returning to running post-baby hasn't been remotely like those visions. Instead it feels like what I imagine moon-walking might be like: the clunky astronaut boots making it impossible to raise your feet higher than an inch, despite feeling the weightlessness from the absence of gravity. My once strong and supportive core now makes no attempt to keep my hips in line, letting my disobedient legs flail recklessly on the cement. To add insult to injury, the stretched out fascia around my middle shakes with each step, rippling through each layer of skin, resulting in jiggle-itch. So much for wishful thinking.

I know better. Nothing worth having comes easy. First my body needed to heal, then it required rehabilitation, and then with time, it'll get back to it's former glory. I've taken it easy: done a lot of walking, a bit of yoga-ing, and some strengthening/toning. But for all my motivation, there's so much lacking. Consistency, for one. It's hard when all you want to do between feedings is veg out. Forget "keeping up", I'm just try to catch up with those darn Kardashians. One day I'll find the energy to bust out a few minutes of core work and plank, the next day I'm eating a tin of chocolate-covered almonds, commiserating with Kim as her swollen, pregnant feet get the best of her. Then I'll look over at my little sleeping starfish and think how both he and his daddy would just shake their heads in shame if they saw me in such a state. That's when I pick myself up and snap out of it. I'll get back on track for a day or two, then slip again. Hey, at least it's TWO steps forward, ONE step back. I am advancing.

I caught glimpse of that progress today. The run began inauspiciously enough and much in the same way as most runs these days: ungainly and slow. I used the momentum of a downhill start to get going at a pace just slightly above a fast walk. After a minute or two, I settled into a comfortable trot and concentrated my gaze on the sidewalk just ahead of my feet, careful not to get tripped up on any weather-raised sections. A mile later inertia kick in and I zoned out, just enjoying the fresh air and movement. All of a sudden I felt more natural, like my old self. I may even have fooled a few people as I passed with the fluidity of a seasoned pro. It was short lived - I was only able to keep pace for about a mile (which is a far cry from the 8+ mile runs I used to easily knock out) - but for the first time in months I had it. Like Spacey's character, I made the transformation (however briefly) from gimpy con artist to cocky bad-ass. I'm not delusional, there's a long way to go before I'm kicking ass and taking names, but there's hope. In the mean time, I'm waiting on a call from Hollywood. This is method acting at its best, people.


JosiJoy said...

I ran today and felt like a wuss. hahaha But, I did hike up a huge mountain on Saturday...was slower than usual, but I made it. :-P go, lew, go!!!

Anonymous said...

Hike a mountain? You would Jos! Hahahaha! Keep it up Chica you're doing great at that babe is a lucky little... thing (?) To have an awesome, courageous, and adventurous mama.


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