Every Tuesday at 6:30 pm I can expect to sweat, complain, and have a fantastic time with a group of women at the Rec Center. It’s HITT (high-intensity interval training) class. Thirty minutes of working off the fries and cakes that I run to like Pavlov’s dogs during the weekend. Thirty minutes of sweating in unmentionable places. And after it’s all over, the satisfaction of completing something that was hard. That really, eloquently stated, sucked.
Tonight we did outside running intervals. Keep in mind that the sun does not set until almost nine this time of year. That’s roughly fourteen hours of sunlight beating down. Also keep in mind that it is now nine o’clock at night and ninety degrees. At 6:30 it felt as if the sun had gathered up all the heat it cast down today and directed it like a stage light on us. Backside, frontside, there was no escape.
The girls and I ran a lap, then did ten burpees, ten push-ups, and ten crunches. From there we counted down with a lap in between. Dianna- my go-to partner in class and former co-worker for the company whose membership I am discretely still under- and I hung together. She hates the push-ups while I hate the burpees. Luckily, we are both runners so that part usually isn’t so bad. Notice how I said usually.
Something about running- hell even standing still- in the heat of the day creates that gurgly mucus that hangs in the back of your throat no matter how much water you have. The last thing you want to happen is for that gunk to come up. When you feel a burp coming you gotta be quick enough to lock in it before it spews and makes you woozy.
This is not an indicator of failure. It is an indication of pushing your limits. And that you should probably sit down for a minute.
I will never forget how hard it was when I ran track in high school,. How hot it got. How I wanted to rip all of my clothes off and go jump in the cow trough the FFA club had for the small farm behind the gym.
Freshman year was when I signed up for the track team. I never was that great at it, like I’m- not great at most sports. (I’ll never know why they assigned me to be a sprinter instead of a distance runner.) But I am outgoing. Stubbornness is also a good quality to possess when the only person you want to beat is yourself. (This is not a great quality for team sports, however. I found this out when I tried out for tennis and no one wanted to be my doubles partner.)
One particular afternoon practice stands out in my memory. Instead of running down the dirt road and through the grass around the school, we stayed on the track. Heat and asphalt are magnets and whatever stands between them might actually melt. This is what happened to some of my teammates.
As I rounded the corner facing the tennis courts I began to notice some of the other runners falling to the side. Literally, falling. They steadied themselves hands on knees and began to yak. One by one they fell behind, like the chocolates Lucy Ricardo couldn’t keep up with on the candy conveyor belt.
But not me. I was not going to be that girl. I was going to be the freshman that made it. The one that was not only stupid enough to run in the hundred degree weather but also the one who was not going to need a cold compress on her head to stop it from spinning once she finished. I can tell you, with all the pride from my fifteen year old and now almost thirty year old heart, that I made it. That me and Sam Shealy, two years ahead of me, were the only two whose cafeteria lunch did not end up on the steaming asphalt at Saluda High School.
Tonight’s running felt like that day. I think the humidity might have been about the same as it was in 2003 (ninety nine percent). It is that same stubbornness, and the encouragement from Dianna and the rest of the incredible women we work out with, that kept me going. Time ran out before we got to one but, hey, I am proud of getting to four. I am proud of not stopping. Mostly I am proud that I did not throw up in public.