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.
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.
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.