So one of my wacky plans for The Summer of Vacation was to run a 5k. This is despite the fact that I am not now, nor have I ever been, a runner. I occasionally put on running shoes and then go out, full of good intentions, and inevitably wind up limping home. It never ends well for me. As a matter of fact, I swear upon a stack of holy writ of your choice, the last time I went out for a run on the lakefront path, just as soon as I was feeling really good about my pathetic little amateurish run, a seagull shat directly on my Sox hat-clad head. It’s enough to make a girl cry into her bathtub of Epsom salts.

My relationship with running began, and ended, early: when I was in the fifth grade, I discovered I really loved running through the halls at school. I started doing it when completely unnecessary, when I wasn’t even late for class; I started running around outside; I made my mom buy me a pair of Reeboks so I could have “real” running shoes. I had loads of fun. It was fantastic. I loved it, just feeling like I was going really really fast. And so I decided to try out for the track team. Pudgy, shy, not athletic at all, but I knew I wanted to run a lot more, and the track team seemed like where you went if you wanted to run around a lot. So I tried out. And, for whatever ridiculous reason I cannot even imagine, it turned out that our middle school track team full of all the little nerds at the nerdy magnet school for the “gifted,” … this team was competitive. Which meant they actually only wanted little fifth graders who were good at running, not just anyone who was willing to show up. So I didn’t make the team, because (then as now) I was pretty crap at running. I just liked it, I wasn’t fast or anything. But little skipped-a-year nine year old Sabrina was not good enough to win races against zomg ten year old fifth graders, so I couldn’t even show up for practice even if I never ran in a meet. Once the tryout results were announced and I felt like “LOSER” was stamped on my head, I threw the running shoes in the back of my closet and I really don’t think I ever put them on again. I certainly never tried out for another sport until high school, never entertained any thoughts about track or cross country through the rest of my school career, and I never tried running on my own. So, thanks, there, Mr. Powers — your dedication to fielding only the finest fifth grade track stars killed my interest in group sports for many years, and killed my willingness to try running again (since obviously I’m just crap!) for a long, long time.

I’m really good at holding pointless grudges, y’all. (Mr. Powers, though, seriously? Kiss my ass. I really really liked something harmless, and in the course of about two days you killed it dead, dead, dead. GOOD WORK, THERE, MR. EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR. Seriously, would it have killed you to have a kid, or ten, on the jv squad who only showed up for practice and maybe, I dunno, improved over time? Jackass.)

Anyways. I dunno, like ten years ago or something, I started doing some stuff at the Y in Evanston and I wound up working with a trainer who would have me on a treadmill for half an hour doing intervals, and eventually we did enough hateful frigging intervals that it got so I could jog on the treadmill for half an hour. Not long thereafter I moved to Hyde Park, joined the Y there, and … I don’t remember what all, workout blah blah blah nothing to write home about, but I remember there was this one day I was just incandescent with rage at someone at work for being passive aggressive to me for like an entire week, and I went to the Y after work like usual and got on the treadmill and I kept turning up the speed higher and higher, and I ran and ran and ran for like an hour, until I couldn’t think angry thoughts anymore (because mostly my brain was full of “1 – 2 – 3 – 4″ and “ow” and “water nao pls?”), and — although, don’t get me wrong, I can do without the passive aggressiveness — sometimes I think back on how incredibly freaking effective that was to talk me down. I stopped running after I gave up my Y membership (along with cable and everything else not directly related to paying off my credit cards), and never really started back up again. But I still kind of miss it. Even if, just as when I was nine, I am still crap at running.

Last summer I wanted to try again, so I went out with a local group that my friend B. hooked me up with, a couple times. They’re a non-competitive running group — the slogan goes “a drinking group with a running problem.” I don’t really know how long the trails were, something between 3-5 miles, I guess?, but I couldn’t run the whole course so I walked a lot of it, and it was taking me a really long time to finish. There’s actually someone who’s designated to “sweep” up the last of the group, to make sure no one gets lost, only I was actually slower than them, I think, because only one time did anyone ever meet up with me. One time I was so far behind, B. called to make sure I wasn’t lost. So I kind of lost heart a little. Even though it’s non-competitive, it sort of sucks being the last person dragging in every week. (I got better about laughing with everyone else about being DFL again, but that was me faking it. Truthfully, I would much rather have preferred to have slunk in unnoticed and certainly not be recognized as Dead Fucking Last.) I bought new shoes with all the intention in the world of getting better and maybe someday not being DFL, then I just never managed to go back. I kept meaning to; it would just roll around to Thursday again and I just couldn’t quite overcome the “I suck at this” enough to do it.

Which is all a very, very long winded way of explaining what a REALLY RIDICULOUSLY HUGE, ENORMOUS, BIG DEAL it is for me to have decided to try and run a 5k. Even if it’s not really a competitive race (this particular race doesn’t even really time you), it’s still. You know. Running. A Race. In Public. With Other People. Who Are Better At This Than Me. Lots. Who Probably Made *THEIR* Stupid Fifth Grade Track Teams. It’s scary. And I’m still crap at running!

But I am trying. I go outside and run around and frigging seagulls shit on my head as though there weren’t many miles of perfectly good lake to shit upon just ten yards away, and I go the gym and run on the treadmill listening to the voice prompts of my little app that tells me when to run and when to walk, and on my off days I’m doing a little trifecta of 100 pushups/200 squats/200 situps (their little companion 25 pullups program can, to be perfectly honest, kinda bite me a little), and I have, God help me, a 7AM appointment with my personal trainer on Thursday so she can kick my ass up the wall and down again. And. As God is my witness I am going to run that stupid 5k race, and I am going to finish it, and if I ever have the misfortune to see Mr. Powers again I am going to blow the biggest raspberry the world has ever seen right in his smug, pudgy shy fifth grader-hating, stupid jerky face. BECAUSE I CAN.

(And then maybe I’ll go back to the hash again and maybe someday I won’t be DFL.)