In athletic endeavors, such as my two favorites: yoga and running, I mostly wear pants. For yoga, especially of the heated variety, I find it helpful to keep my gams covered. Less exposed skin leads to less sweating, slipping, and potential face-planting in crow pose. As a runner, my affinity for pants is weather-based. I live in Boston, and—sad as it sounds—Boston conditions mostly call for covered legs. There are some runners who insist upon wearing shorts, even in snow.
I think these people are bat sh*t crazy.
I tend to get cold. I tend to prefer pants. Hence, I wear pants.
Except, yesterday, I didn’t. I didn’t wear shorts, either. Instead, I wore a running skirt. I bought it last year and have only worn it a couple times in tropical climates. So, I decided to try bare-legged running while visiting my family on Cape Cod this weekend. While the rest of the running world obsesses over the trend of barefoot running, I’m just getting around to bare legs, a “minimalist movement” for calves and thighs. Given that this isn’t so much a movement as the season changing (like it does every year), one could say I’m a little slow.
Except, yesterday, I wasn’t. I was fast. Actual runner fast. Marathon Mama fast. Fast-like-I-used-to-be fast. Not Kara Goucher fast or, even, my 16-year-old track athlete self fast, but I was back to my pace when in training for the 2009 Boston Marathon, before the race pulverized my right hip and the subsequent two years of running while my legs—or my heart—didn’t quite have it anymore.
How can I explain this mysterious surge? At first, I thought it was a fluke: a good song shuffling through my iPod or the black tea I drank an hour earlier giving my feet a lift. Perhaps the view was responsible for my burst of energy, a beachy scene in my hometown, where I first fell in love with the road, and sneakers, and nothing else. Maybe it was the skirt? Was it lucky? Or, was I freaked enough by a few leering male motorists that I picked up the pace (meanwhile putting on my best don’t-leer-at-me-I’m-a-serious-runner face). Haven’t you seen a pair of bare legs before?
In their defense, it’s been a while. We’ve all been bundled up since last fall: me, my legs, you, your legs (unless you’re one of the crazy ones who wears shorts in the snow or the climate-protected ones, known as Californians).
After more than 6-miles, I returned to my car to find Om Bro and his pal, Myles, in the beach parking lot after a swim (albeit a chilly one). I was still a little winded and elated at discovering I had new legs (or my old legs had returned) and liked, no, loved running again, when Reece says with a hint of surprise, “I’m not sure if it’s the shoes or the get-up or what, but you like a runner.”
“Thanks,” I say with a happy shrug. As I turn toward the car, an ocean breeze hits the backs of my legs. It makes me a little cold for the drive home, and I realize I’m hungry, too. The first watermelon of the season, which my Dad proudly toted home yesterday, will make the perfect snack. The outdoor shower will take away my chill.
This train of thought makes me smile. Of all of the following: revealing skirts or shorts, my running legs, ocean swims, a light chill at sunset, guys on motorcycles who ogle gals who run, watermelon, and outdoor showers, if can finally be said: we’re back.
This is also known as summer.