I think most people would describe me as a “lady,” or if that kind of old-fashioned term isn't their style, at least “very polite.” I always say thank you, rarely curse, and my passive-aggressive response to being given the finger by an angry driver in a traffic jam is to shrug, mouth a rueful “I’m sorry!” and—if I’m really ticked off—blow a kiss.
What most people don’t know, though, is how truly disgusting and un-ladylike I am when I’m running. A few particularly unsavory confessions:
1. I stink. After a run, I smell like a male bodybuilder who just spent half his day in the sauna. The combination of bug spray and sweat, even after applying half a stick of Secret, in 100 degree humidity is probably toxic to some animal species. (Though not mosquitoes, unfortunately—hence the need for the bug spray.)
2. I listen to raunchy music and shout out the most illicit lyrics right around the time that “runner’s high” kicks in. If you drive with me in the car, you’ll hear Suzanne Vega or Crosby, Stills & Nash, and I love to see Bruce Hornsby and U2 in concert—but when I’m running, I’m jamming to “Applebottom jeans and the boots with the fur, the whole crowd was lookin’ at her….”
3. I spit. Like an ostrich. Sorry if that was your sidewalk.
4. The following situations prompt swearing like you would not believe (a lot worse than my usual “Oh no!” or “Well, gee that stinks!”): seeing a rodent, stray cat or possum on my path; a bug flying into my eye; my heart rate monitor chest strap falling off mid-run and losing all my calories-burned info; forgetting to turn off the “Shake to Shuffle” option on my iPod meaning that with every move I take, the cool raunchy song I'd been grooving to switches to a different one.
5. I rudely ignore kind elderly people who pull up to me on the side of the road to ask me where the nearest Publix is. I run right past them. Look, clearly I’m in a hurry: maybe they could ask the casual walkers where Weston Road is instead.
I can assure you, though, that by the time you see me at work or the supermarket or wherever it is that we see each other, I’ll be clean-cut again in appearance, scent and demeanor, and humming a folk song instead of Flo Rida. Even if you step on my foot or cut me off in traffic, I will keep my temper, spitting and potty-mouth in check.
Such debase behavior, believe it or not, is for a good cause. I’m stinking, cursing and spitting as part of my mission to raise money for leukemia and lymphoma research and patient care. To learn more or to make a donation, please visit my Team in Training fundraising page.
I'm still working on a blog about the embarrassing things that have happened to me while running, like when I ran north and my pants stayed south. Check back in a few days.