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Easy, Breezy, Beautiful...Army Girl

May 25, 2010

After the 5K (that I mostly walked), Margaret and I went to a Little Black Dress party at BlackFinn benefiting Dress for Success. Even though I hadn't washed my hair after the run, I felt super hot.  Running is probably worth it if for nothing other than the ego boost.  But maybe we were too hot.  It seemed suspicious that when we walked in and there were few other females.  They had advertised a raffle for a Gucci bag, for goodness sake!  Where were all the girls? 

Turns out BlackFinn is a sports bar.  Excuse me, saloon. A saloon that attracts frat guys and severely old men who think their senility is license to say inappropriate things to young ladies.  Margaret and I, donning our little black dresses (mine a strapless bubble dress, hers a jersey frock with an empire waist), found a table right smack dab in the middle of the boy action.  We didn't mean to -- honestly.  They were pretty obnoxious and loud.  But we did get a ton of attention.

It started off slow, kind of like how Noli acts when you give her a new toy -- she's always unsure of it at first and tests it out until she finally gets up the nerve to just go for it.  They'd slowly approach us, then one would get up the nerve to drop a line like, "My friend really likes you!" then run off giggling.  This went on for about half an hour until one of them finally actually hit on us.  Except he was probs a little two old for the both of our ages added together. 

"I'm so glad to see you girls wore your short black dresses tonight!" said Gramps.  Margaret and I glanced at him then locked eyes with each other, panic stricken. 

"So," he went on, leaning onto our table with his beer.  "You ladies like hockey?"

As he carried on about all the hockey games he was going to and how we should attend them as well, we laughed nervously, which, if you don't care about being creepy, probably eggs you on because we're smiling at you.  Finally his knees gave out and he left us alone to sit down at a nearby booth.

Shortly after two more age-appropriate guys swooped in and sat down at our table.  "What are y'all drinking?" the hot one asked. 

We had ordered sangria but it wasn't very good, and we weren't planning on drinking anymore.  But, not knowing what else to say, we answered, "Sangria!" 

Now I have to hand it to these guys -- even though we weren't remotely interested in them, they kept the drinks coming all night.  We didn't drink them, but they were there aplenty.  Some poor frat boy was probably dared to chug the sangria after we left. 

So the hot one hit on Margaret and the cute one hit on me.  "We would have really tall kids!" he told me. 

I laughed politely.

"We should get married!" 

Okay, seriously?  What is it with guys handing out fake marriage proposals?

In the mean time, hot guy was staring just a little bit too intensely at Margaret.  After a while she gave me the look and I gave her the look right back, and she announced she was going to go pay our bill and left. 

"So, your friend tells me you work with Army guys," he said, shifting his gaze to me.

"Yep! It's a lot of fun," I said.

"Well I'm in the Army, and I'll tell you what the biggest problem in the Army is -- sit ups."

My reaction to this was much the same as my dad telling me that after days of praying in college about what he should do about his money problems, God told him, "Eggs."  (Turned out he was able to pay his tuition and keep his biceps buff.)

When he saw the confused look on my face, he explained, "Sit ups are required but they kill your back and they're not necessary." 

Cute guy was listening in with a big grin on his face and standing a little too close for comfort.  Margaret hurried back and said we were all set to go, so we said good-bye...just as more drinks came to the table.

The next week I kept up the running and found myself craving it during the day.  Then Friday I found myself in Philly to write a story, and someone invited me to do PT (that's Physical Training) with some of the other Soldiers.  I didn't think he was serious.

"We'll go easy on you, I promise," he said. 

"But I'm a wimp!"  As the words came out of my mouth I realized this was the very "lousy" attitude that had kept me from running my entire life.  So I agreed to do it.

At 1730 we met at a local track.  The drill sergeant showed us how to do the exercises before we began (I'm guessing this was done for me and the other non-Army wimps).  Everything was going fine -- I even did the run without too much of a problem (okay I came in last, and it's not a race, I just kept falling behind) -- until we got to the sit ups.  Suddenly I was frozen with fear.  What will happen to my poor, fragile back?

I tried to pull myself up, but it wouldn't happen. 

"You can do it!" a familiar voice called out.  I looked over and saw the same Soldier who had invited me. 

"No, I can't!  Someone told me this is bad for your back, and I don't have any ab muscles anyway!"

"Those people are doing it wrong.  Squeeze your thighs and do it!  You can!" he urged me.

I did what he said, and magically I sat all the way up, and no back pain!  Before I knew it I was doing sit ups in rhythm with all the Soldiers!  Talk about an ego boost!

Now push ups...that's another story.  (Let's just say the advice I got on those was to drop my butt, and I never succeeded.  You can imagine what a spectacle that was.)

So I have discovered, the year before I turn 30, that I really like exercise!  And challenging myself to do it might be the best decision I've made this year. But I'm still wishing for the day I run a half marathon and am allowed to eat unlimited cupcakes...

Running Like A Girl (with Humanitarian cameo!)

May 2, 2010

Things running has taught me:

1) I can do it.
2) I still love *NSYNC.
3) I have shins, and they hate me.
4) The Stick is modeled after a medieval torture device.
5) Running makes you hot.
6) Running doesn't cost anything, so you should probably shop for cute running outfits to make up for it.
7) The Glee soundtrack is just as much fun lip synching as it is singing at the top of your lungs in your car.
8) DC is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and I must live in a row house.
9) Apparently it's not illegal to smoke pot in broad daylight here.
10) Actually DC is super ghetto.

Let me explain.

Two Saturdays ago I began training for a 5K for reals.  I got up early (9 a.m.) and called Jamie.

"Jamie! Are you up?"

"Yeeeeees, sort of," she replied groggily.

"Well get up because I'm coming over and we're going to start training for a 5K."

"Really?  Um, okay!" 

This is why I love Jamie.  You can talk her into just about anything. 

So I biked over there (oh I am SO urban now, I love it) (except my tires are low on air and our pump is broken so it's like biking through sand) and we walked/ran for 25 minutes.  This was according to my book, Chi Running, that Phillip at Fleet Feet sold me.  First week you walk a minute, run a minute for 25-35 minutes.  At first I was running on my toes, as my PE coach in the 2nd grade taught us, but that was killing my shins and it didn't seem to work so well.

"Am I running right?" I asked Jamie.

"I don't know how to run!" she said.

Then I remembered what Chi Running said.  Imagine yourself as a pillar, lining everything up.  So we did this, and I immediately felt taller, slimmer, and lighter.  Hmm, no wonder I've never enjoyed running, I was doing it wrong!  Margaret had told me you should run at a pace that allows you to hold a conversation.  Seeing as Jamie likes to talk as much as I do, finding such a pace was not a problem.  We walked/ran around Thomas Circle for 30 minutes and then made our way to Balance Gym for a dance class.  I'll leave THAT for another blog post (my mother's arrow is hovering over the "unfollow" button as she reads this, so maybe I'll just let you use your imagination). Let's just say, I am neither strong nor graceful, and we laughed at ourselves a lot. But hey, laughing firms your abs, so I'm not complaining. 

The next day I pigged out on brunch at Farmers & Fishers (skip the Crab Benedict and go crazy with the sweet bread and bananas foster sauce), and since I was way too sluggish to work out afterwards I decided to officially start my training on Monday. 

Margels offered to help me with my first "real" session.  She graciously only walked/ran 2 miles with me and showed me where your feet can take you in DC.  I never realized DC was so pedestrian friendly!  That sounds stupid since I take public transportation almost everywhere, but that's the thing -- I'm always on Metro or my bike, I'm rarely walking.  Turns out it doesn't take that long to go a mile. 

Tuesday was my rest day, so I cataloged what clothes I had to wear.  At some point in college I fell in love with Puma athletic ankle socks.  Over the years I've lost a lot of them, but I didn't realize how many.

That's five mismatched pink socks you're looking at.  And those are just the pink ones. 

Soooo, socks. Check.  (Against my better judgment because I hate mismatched things.  But I will persevere with what I have.)

But I needed running shorts like Margaret has, with a little pocket inside for your key.  Turns out Old Navy has an athletic section that's inexpensive and cute!  So I bought two pairs of shorts and a sports bra that I have yet to wear (not a big fan of the uniboob).

Back home I relaxed in front of the TV (it seems like such a luxury now).  Since Glee and Lost come on at the same time now I had to choose, and Glee won.  Sue Sylvester, dance on air!

Wednesday was cool and a little misty, which turned out to be perfect running weather.  I finally downloaded music onto my phone, but my selection wasn't great -- a lot of Dave Matthews and *NSYNC.  (And Glee, of course!)  When "Makes Me Ill" came on all the words jumped out of my head and I smiled.  How do we remember all the words to a song after not hearing it for years?  *NSYNC is hotter than ever in my opinion.

I ran down 14th and zig zagged through the neighborhoods.  The Victorian, early 20th century row houses were dazzling.  I tend to spend more money on home goods than clothes, so seeing these old homes was making me drool.  I decided during this run that my new motivation to get out of debt would be to be able to buy one of these homes.  The price tags start around $700K, so we'll see how that goes...

Just as I was admiring yet another charming street, imagining Washingtonians of yore walking the brick-paved sidewalks in their petticoats, parasols, and sear sucker suits, pushing little buggies with rosy cheeked babies with little bonnets on their heads, I saw a man leaning against his low rider blowing smoke that did not look like cigarette smoke.  And then I knew, I had wandered into ghetto territory. 

I tried to explain this to Margaret and she said, "I wouldn't know the difference between smokes because I don't hang around potheads."  But y'all know what I'm talking about, right? What-evs, Margels.

Anyway, as I passed by, my nose burned and sure enough he was smoking up -- or out, I can't remember the druggie lingo I learned from my token high school pothead friend who talked to me in English class about why marijuana should be legalized and why I should convert to Buddhism.  Apparently it doesn't matter if marijuana is legalized in DC; people smoke it in broad daylight in front of preppy white chicks pretending to be runners!

I took off Thursday because Margaret had talked me into running a 5K Friday.  I agreed only because it was a red dress 5K benefiting the American Heart Association and I wanted an excuse to wear a dress I got at Forever 21 on a whim.  My shin was kind of hating me a lot, so I took out The Stick and started rolling it up and down my shin, and, unlike the last time I tried this, prickles of excruciating pain shot through every fiber of my leg.  So, no.  I'm done with that for a while.

Oh, I forgot to tell y'all, Monday I ran into -- you guessed it (because I told you in the title) -- Humanitarian aka Captain Can't Follow Through!  He passed me on the Metro platform at Chinatown, did a double take, then talked to me until we reached his stop.  Over the past year we've had similar run ins which I haven't bothered blogging about.  In true Captain Can't Follow Through fashion, he got nervous? felt bad for never following through? genuinely likes me? and invited me to see him later that week.  This time it was to a happy hour in his honor at the Pentagon since he had taken a civilian job and was leaving soon. 

So Friday I took a gym-ish bag to work with my tennies and the red dress, and I left work early to go to the Pentagon to drink cheap red wine at 1530 hours.  Trust me, stranger things have happened in that building.  I made Joanna go with me, and we stopped at our old office to say hi to everyone.  Turns out the girl who took my old job was on her way to the happy hour too.  She knew Humanitarian from her first job in DC (it never ceases to amaze me what a small world we live in here).  And turns out she had heard of me from him.  Interesting...

The three of us went over to his office and chatted with his friends and coworkers.  He talked to us for a second but then got awkward and walked away.  Next thing we knew he'd brought out an "Idiots Guide to Dating" book to show to his friend.  Joanna snatched it and started reading tips out loud.  The guys lost interest so we got a pen and wrote our own notes in the pages and tabbed them so he wouldn't miss them.  One question posed: "To kiss or not to kiss?" Joanna wrote, "YES! KISS HER!!!"  I have a feeling Captain Can't Follow Through is not going to take our comments to heart.

So, after three little plastic cups of cheap red wine, I made my final attempt to get his attention and changed into my little red dress.  It was, after all, time to go.  When I emerged from a side office in the sequined wonder and my Nikes, his mouth dropped open.  The girls squealed that I looked cute, and he pulled out his phone.  "I gotta get a picture." Um, why? Sigh, yet another extremely confusing signal from him. But I figured, what the heck.  So I humored him and posed then said good bye and sprinted out of the building. 

I made it to the start line right as the announcer said, "On your mark, get set, go!"  Margaret was waiting for me with my tag, also in her red dress.  I was disappointed by the red dress turnout.  Most girls were wearing little shorts and tops, but the guys came through.  Particularly one very elderly man in a one shoulder chiffon frock.

Ever the faithful and patient roomie, Margels did the run a minute, walk a minute with me for the entire race.  It was so fun to be with everyone and cheer each other on!  And the water at certain points was great.  Note to self: don't drink cheap red wine before a race.  I was feeling refreshed until we were handed flavored water that tasted like orange Tic Tacs had been dissolved in it.  There's just nothing refreshing about that.  At all.

I made it to the finish line in about 42 minutes, which, guess what?, is my BEST TIME!  That is both sad and exciting.  Did I mention a four-year-old kid totally kicked my butt?

Regardless, I felt hot.  Afterwards my legs felt limber, lean, and beautiful.  (Whether they actually are is still to be determined.)  In high school I was voted "Best Legs." (And Biggest Flirt.  And Most Likely To Be Late To Class.)  I feel like there's a certain stigma attached to that.  I certainly don't want to be the girl who was voted Best Legs and ended up with fatty thighs and unshapely calves 10 years later!  So I'm gonna keep it up.  My goal is to run the whole 5K by June.  For now, I'm pretty happy with my little accomplishment.  After all, two weeks ago I'd never run in my life!