I don't run, unless someone is chasing me. It's my policy. The last time running got my heart racing and had me breathing heavy was in a bad dream with a faceless fiend on my heels.
In January my husband talked me into to going to the Y with him to climb stairs that lead nowhere and pedal bikes that can't get any traction. I only agreed to it because it didn't require me to run. He sat on a stationary bike next to mine and peered at my digital screen. Not satisfied with my progress, he reached over and pushed my buttons.
"I've got my heart rate up," I protested.
"Just above a dead man's," he sarcastically poked.
After spinning his wheels a little longer, he panted, "You'll be in a bikini this summer. I can feel it," and he reached over and patted my backside.
I objected, "No, I won't." The man oughta know by now that as soon as someone tells me what to do, I do the exact opposite, even if it's what I wanted to do in the first place. Plus, no one wants to see the near-naked winter-worn flesh of a fortysomething on the beach in June. "A bikini is not the goal," I firmly told him.
"You're right," he agreed, but then in his light-headed state he said, instead of wisely thinking it to himself, "but it could be."
After January, life around the Adams household kicked back into high gear and I fortunately couldn't squeeze in any gym time. I felt really good about that. But when May arrived I impulsively bought a pair of running shorts and a matching top. I even caught myself thinking up a series of rewards for successive distances achieved and wondering, "Is this about the bikini?"
I wore the shorts all summer, but never worked up a jog. I couldn't get anyone to put on a Halloween mask and chase me.
But it has bothered me and nagged at me, this running thing. On the one hand I accepted that I would have to creatively trick myself into committing; on the other hand I knew that I could work around the actual running and still look like I gave it my best shot. I approached my 9-year-old daughter at the kitchen table doing to her homework, venturing, "The Depot Dash is coming up in December. Do you want to train for a 5k with me and we'll run it together?"
She studied my face then did just what a daughter is supposed to do for her mother. She let me off the hook, saying she'd rather just do her homework.
From around the corner came the voice of my 11 year-old son, who chirped, "I'll train with you, Mama."
"You will?" I squeaked, cornered. Caught. Trapped.
We're starting slowly. On the first day, my son has to follow me yelling threats while I walk briskly. By December, I should be able to run three miles with him in pursuit, revving a chainsaw.
My husband smiled like a hound dog when he found out what happened to me.
"It's not about the bikini," I sternly told him.
"I know it's not," he agreed, then said, "but it could be."
He's right. It could be. What other explanation is there for this breach of policy?
(Lucy Adams is a syndicated columnist and author of If Mama Don't Laugh, It Ain't Funny. She lives in Thomson.)