I've been putting off this post. Just like I put off my running.
It had been about 3 weeks since I'd actually joined in on a Saturday long run. I'd managed a few runs on the treadmill and also the Oakland 5K, but no group long run. So it was no wonder that last Saturday I was nervous as we split into pace groups. What if there wasn't a group for me?
As pacers held up their signs, I scanned them for a timed mile that reflected my current walk/run pace. The woman at the far end had a sign that said 13:00-14:00 minute mile. I joined her (I was the only one) and let her know about my "break" from the training runs.
She reassured me and said we could go at whatever pace I felt comfortable. We started out our 6 miles running, and continued without stopping for about a mile and a half. Occasionally we would catch up with a few other runners who had stopped to stretch or have water. For the most part though, it was just she and I.
Our run was through the Lower Haight and included multiple hills (which I mostly walked) and a few famous SF landmarks.
Hello Haight/ Ashbury.
Hello delicious sounding treats.
I ran more than I anticipated on the way out to the 3-mile turnaround mark. Once we'd stopped at 3 miles, I had so much trouble getting started again. My legs felt a bit like they had bricks stuck on them. After walking about a mile or so, I felt brave enough to try running again, despite my leaden feet.
"I can run to that corner," I would tell myself as I eyed the upcoming intersection. "Run to that tree," I convinced myself. My confidence started feeling boosted and I reminded myself to be proud of myself for being out there on such a gorgeous (and early) Saturday morning.
We were about a half mile from the end of our run when I saw him. When we were first heading out at 8 in the morning, there weren't too many folks up and on the street yet. But by the time we'd turned around and headed back, the streets were starting to buzz with energy and city noise. The guy was about a block ahead of us and I probably wouldn't have even thought twice about him. We were on a wide sidewalk and didn't need to negotiate a pass by. We just needed to pass each other and be on our way. No exchange necessary.
He shouted the word with a venomous hiss.
"hey..." My response reflected my shock and was more squeak then actual word.
Since we were running past him when he shouted it, I was now a few steps beyond where he was. I turned my head in surprise and confusion and when I did so, he was there, staring at me.
"Gordaaaa." He spit the word at me again.
"You speak Spanish?" The pacer asked me.
"I speak enough to know he just called me Fatty."
I know how to curse in Spanish (and a few other languages), but as he hurled the insult at me I came up short. I had nothing. My energy was already almost totally depleted and I was there running by, raw, vulnerable... and fat. Yup, it's true. I'm fat. He didn't exactly lie. But why did he have to say anything at all?
I didn't know him. I hadn't ever seen him before. I did nothing to insult him, except I clearly insulted his sensibilities as I ran by on the busy San Francisco street at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday.
I hated that it bothered me so much.
We made our way back to the starting point and there was a brunch waiting for everyone. I ate half a bagel, finally tried the infamous Chobani yogurt, and drank some juice. I stretched, thanked my pacer, and made my way back to my car.
Then I just sat there... mulling.
Maybe I can find him. Maybe he'll still be walking down the street and I can throw a rotten egg at his head. No that won't work.
1) I don't have any rotten eggs with me.
2) I have terrible aim.
3) It wouldn't actually make me feel better. Not in the long run anyway.
So there would be no egg throwing.
Instead there would just be more... mulling.
I've talked to some friends of size who loathe the idea of heading to the gym. To workout in public is totally out of the question. But I've never felt that way. I have felt a bit nervous, but it's only lately that my mere presence on the city streets has provoked such audible outpourings.
If I didn't workout, you would call me lazy. And if I do workout, you find it somehow okay to call me fat. As if I don't know it. As if I need you to tell me that my red face and jiggly stomach is having a rough time finishing up mile 6. I don't need you to tell me that.
Screw you man in the car calling me fatty. And screw you man on 16th calling me fat.
I'm going to keep running even if it offends your sense of right and good and normal. I'm going to continue the radical act of exercising outdoors, even if I am not in shape (yet) and even if I'm fat. Run on fat girls, run on.