A Runner Begins

He invited me to the Navy Ball. Originally, he had a date, but for reasons, he decided she was a bad idea. So he nixed that plan and asked drama-free me T-minus eight days away from the event. I shrugged and agreed. No biggie. We weren’t dating, I wasn’t busy, and I already had something to wear.

Hanging in my closet was a tea-length champagne dress I had worn to the Vanity Fair party at the Cannes Film Festival a year or two earlier. Something urged me to confirm the short, backless, halter would indeed be appropriate attire.

Nicole & Halle @ Vanity Fair in Cannes (2006)
Nicole & Halle @ Vanity Fair in Cannes (2006)

To my horror, no. Attendees would be in conservative, floor length gowns. It was a ball after all, not a party.

With a week to go, I reconsidered my quick, uninformed yes. How many graduate students do you know with extra money for ball gowns lying around? Before I panicked, I searched my closet and found a dress that would work. Floor-length black gown, with a (less dramatic) halter top and a deep fuchsia splash down the back. Little fuchsia beads adorned the halter. I wore it years ago in a faculty fashion show. It was muted and elegant.

There was one problem. It no longer fit.

I could sort of wear it. Sort of means I could get into the the dress, but I couldn’t zip it all the way up. I’d only gained a couple of inches and a few pounds, but too many of each to wear that dress in a week.

I’m not big on magazines, but for reasons I can no longer recall, I remembered reading that celebrities lost “those last few inches” for the red carpet through strange diets and/or super intense workouts. A couple of them said running was their magic slimfast. I wondered if it could be mine, too.

Because of previous bouts with runner’s itch, I wasn’t sure it would work. I’d try it, prepared to opt for a new dress if pounds and inches were more stubborn than I was. I had no plans to make any dramatic shifts with food. I would increase my water intake, but I wasn’t planning to go hungry or mix any olive oil cocktails.

Sunday afternoon, I headed to the stuffy little room known as my apartment’s fitness center and mounted the treadmill. I decided I’d jog – slowly – until I got tired. I had no idea how long that would take or how far I would go. I called it quits at the 3-mile mark and no one was more surprised than I was. I thought I’d be done by mile one. I felt pretty good, all things considered, and decided to return the next day.

Monday was another slow jog, another 3 miles. I drank a little coffee before the run and I got a nice burst of energy near the end.

Tuesday, same deal, same results. Nine miles in three days. No runner’s itch, no overly tired muscles. And in fact, I felt even more energized this time. After Tuesday’s workout, I tried the dress. The zipper damn near made it closed!

Another day, another three miles on Wednesday.

One last day to run – Thursday. The ball was Saturday. Would I have to shop after all or could I make this work? Friday’s test was zipping and breathing.

So five days and fifteen miles later, victory! The zipper went up with no hesitation. Breathing? No problem! Sitting posed a bit of challenge unless I employed perfect posture and tightened abs. Given the fact that dinner was also part of the proceedings, I’d have to suck it up, literally. But there I was, in that dress.

Me, two months after the ball, now running outdoors.
Me, two months after the ball, now running outdoors.

Who could’ve known that I, a former high school sprinter, would  enjoy running short distances? And who would’ve believed I’d lose enough inches/weight to wear a dress on Saturday that I couldn’t zip up the weekend before?

Because of a slow jog on a treadmill?

I was sold.

And thus began my foray into the world of running.

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