Satire | Running thoughts from a certified unathletic person

By Anne Marie Yurik, Staff Columnist

I was walking around my apartment in pink, fuzzy llama socks when a silly thought hit me I should go for a run. A run for me is more about intention than execution. If I lace up my shoes, put on athletic wear and turn on a workout playlist on Spotify, whatever happens next is a workout by default.

Despite my lenient standards, I still needed to give myself some convincing. I mean, a run … in this economy? Could I afford to not only put on athletic wear but also wear it with the intention of working out? I chewed on this thought amid a handful of Cheez-Its.

I originally threw out the idea. Surely the hills of Pittsburgh would put my calves through what I would call cruel and unusual punishment. I am but a cheese-loving girl from Illinois. I don’t know what hills are. The landscape by me is so flat that it makes a microwavable pancake look a little extra curvaceous.

I even recalled my pre-corona state — trekking to the third floor of Cathy felt like a challenge from “American Ninja Warrior.” Each step was another testament to my desire to get my money’s worth of college by showing up to class despite the countless stairs I’d have to climb to get there. My skin would get shiny, and I would hold my breath when I got to class so no one could hear me panting.

I wondered, could I a girl who had been born and raised in the flatlands run through the hills of Pittsburgh? But then I remembered — I am not running to get competitive with Usain Bolt, and I’m not running to build my self-confidence. I wasn’t entirely sure why I wanted to run.

When I run, my face turns into a Roma tomato, and then, to add a little zest and keep people guessing, it turns the color of mashed potatoes over the red. If you grimaced a little, that was the appropriate response. Me and running are in a complicated relationship.

Bearing that in mind, I decided to make like a cis white man and go for something I was under qualified to do with the confidence of a veteran in the field. Sure, I have next to no running experience. Sure, my last run was more than six months ago. And yes, I was completely out of my league. But it didn’t matter. The llama socks were coming off.

I was going to go for a run. I shook the crumbs off my pajama shirt, pulled myself up from my cheap Target futon and then crawled into bed. I would go for the run tomorrow — the plan itself was the first part of the accomplishment. I couldn’t get too successful and actually run the same day I had the idea.

It took me six days to go for the run. I think the extra days added a little flavor, increasing the suspense by making it a will-she-or-won’t-she moment. My family cheered me on. They said motivating things like, “Are you sure you should be doing this?” and, “You’re bringing someone else, right?” and, “My condolences.”

I took out my sneakers, changed my leggings from the pair I wear when I am going to hit a Netflix break to a fresh pair that were full of potential and turned on the playlist. I stretched, mainly to force me to come to grips with my decision. My decision to run was like the main character’s decision in a horror movie to go into the garage full of chainsaws. The stupidity of the decision is not lost on anyone, but you can’t look away.

Mimicking Bambi learning to walk for the first time, I forced one leg in front of the other. I was doing it! I was running. It took about four minutes and 37 seconds for the running high to wear off. And like the horror movie character in the garage, things started to go downhill quickly, and I’m not talking literally, because a little downward incline would have done me a favor.

My right side threw a fit. It started actively protesting my run, and while I encourage civic responsibility and protests, I wanted my organs to be quiet. My mouth started to taste like pennies. I didn’t even know I was panting with my mouth open until I started inhaling my mask into my mouth.

I don’t want to imagine what my face looked as I was sucking down air the way college kids force down a Natty Light. The passersby on the sidewalk watched in shock as I tried to keep my body rolling. My mask was quickly shifting between looking like a bubble to a crater with each breath I took.

My pace started to slow. As I “ran” behind people walking on the street, I barely got closer to them. My running pace was more of a brisk walk where I added a longer stride and a bounce. After six minutes, I slowed to a walk.

My Fitbit buzzed to shame me for throwing in the towel mid-run. I shook off the audacity of Fitbit to sass me for slowing from an 11-minute mile to a 16-minute mile — what did my watch know? My body may be most comparable to Mater from “Cars,” since it’s rusty and not the smoothest of operators, but it carried me.

I know calling a six-minute jog a run is a little bit like white people calling unseasoned chicken and peas a delicious meal, but to me, it was a run. I awarded myself a participation medal for this endeavor, the “you were there” ribbons for the people who didn’t add anything to the game but didn’t actively hinder the game either.

I continued all the way to Shadyside. If I took anything from the run, it was the fact that there were parts of Pittsburgh where you could hear the crickets at 7 p.m. Who knew that not all the streets smelled like garbage or were decorated with empty beer cans, red Solo Cups and old appliances?

The next day my legs ached to remind me of the undue stress I threw on them without warning. Unfortunately for them, I enjoyed my six minutes of cardio, and like the same stupid horror character who we love to hate, I was about to learn nothing from the pleas my muscles and organs made. They better strap in, because the next run will be like the character running into a corn maze at the dead of night.

Write to Anne Marie at [email protected].