This morning I saw a horrifying thing as I walked into the grocery store. A man was running by. He wasn't particularly young, but he was built like an athlete, and the look on his face said he'd probably been running a while. It was pouring rain, so it was impossible to tell how sweaty he was. But - and here's the horrifying part - his nipples were bleeding. He was wearing a white shirt and there were two streaks of bright red running down the front. I couldn't help but stare, though I don't think he noticed me. I don't even know if he noticed his own problem. Yowza.

I am not an athlete. I was never athletic, never inclined that way. I was scrawny and wimpy and could never aim worth crap to throw or catch a ball or even a frisbee. I suck at hackey sack (though it hasn't stopped me from trying on occasion). In college, though, I decided that regular exercise was a good idea, so I started running. I usually went alone so no one would hear how hard I was panting, though by the time Stuart and I were getting serious, we would run together at night. By the time I graduated I ran 4 miles every day.

Since moving to Wisconsin nine years ago, the exercise regime has had its ups and downs. For one thing, it's really hard to run outside in the winter when the temps are below zero and the sidewalks are covered in ice and snow. Some people do anyway, but they're the hard-core crazy types. In grad school, I biked to campus in just about every kind of weather except thunderstorms. As long as it was above 5 degrees outside, I even biked in the cold. I tried swimming in the early mornings for a semester, but it was just too grueling to leave the apartment at 6:30 a.m. and jump in the pool. Then we had kids and it all kind of went to hell. Exercise is such a time-suck, especially when you've only got a couple of precious hours in between meals and bedtime to make it happen.

I'm trying, though. I might even join the Y because 1) they have childcare and 2) they have pretty decent preschool programs I would like Daniel to be a part of this year. Now that I am 30 and have the postpartum paunch, it's more important to me than ever to maintain some level of fitness. When you're 20, you're basically invincible. But when you're 30, you really can tell whether or not you ran this week. You feel better, you look better if you exercise. It's frustrating that I don't have the same endurance, though. This afternoon it was warm and muggy, perfect weather for going to the pool, so we all went and I swam 500 meters and it totally kicked my ass. That's, like, 5 times across and back. I was gasping for air and had to stop, even though I had wanted to swim farther. I've been running again, too, though not terribly frequently, which means I don't go more than a couple miles. Sometimes I do a few sprints to make it worthwhile.

What's funny about all this is that until recently I didn't hold any standards for myself when it came to exercise. I was just glad to be outside and moving around. For months after Anya was born, I figured that all the kid-lifting and chasing and running up and down the stairs to do laundry was at least keeping slothdom at bay, if not keeping me in shape. But now I have goals, such as they are. I want to run faster, swim farther, bike more. Not that I plan to start competing or joining any sports teams or anything. That'll be the day.


katie said…
sounds like you should do a triathlon! seriously.
Animal said…
I've never been goal-oriented, but Katie makes a good suggestion: all of my friends who got "serious" about aerobic exercise began training for tri's and marathons. The goal is what you work toward, and the training becomes a requirement once you sign up.

I hear ya about the time-suck, though. I even HAVE more than enough time for running…I could easily do it after Roz goes to bed, or in the afternoons if it's not too hot. I just choose to prioritize other things ahead of the exercise. And so for now I live with my waist flub. I've sort of given in…without giving up.

I laughed about the bloody-nipples thing. Women don't have to worry because they wear bras, but put a man in a cotton shirt, and make him sweat, and the constant friction makes blood an all-to-common occurrence. This is seriously why "high-tech" running shirts are a must; they create far less friction. Even then, my aforementioned friends (the male ones, anyway), use a special goo on their nipples and (pardon me) under their balls. 'Cause ain't NO ONE wants to bleed there!
Claire said…
Madison always hosts the IronMan. I double dog dare you! :) I'm going to try to do more 5k's since they're a realistic distance for me (I do NOT enjoy distance running... I'm a sprinter) and they support various charities. Care to join? That's my postpartum goal.

So, do I have to belong to the Y for the preschool classes???
Suze said…
Claire, no you don't have to belong to the Y but you can sign up earlier (I still haven't actually joined yet, so I hope there are still spots) and the preschool stuff costs less for members.

Hmm, 5K is doable for me. But racing? I'll have to think on it!

Animal: shudder...I don't know how you guys live with those things. (anyone get the Seinfeld reference there?)

Katie, if I ever did a triathlon I think I'd have to start out with something simpler first. Like a 5K (with no extra swimming and biking!)
Steph said…
I always see the bleeding nipples at marathons. Poor guys. Eric uses Band-Aids.

Having run with you last week, I'd say you could run a 5K tomorrow with no problem.

I think I'm shooting for a half-marathon by next year.
Becca said…
I'm glad someone noted the bleeding nipples--I'd been mulling over that like a logic puzzle. Like, what would be the likely conditions? Would the shirt be a rayon/cotton blend, the air a certain humidity, the runner going a certain speed? Maybe he'd just gotten piercings--would that be more likely with hoops or bars?

It was eating my brain.
Pam said…
Ouch! I didn't realize that was such a problem for men. :-(

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