Come on, ass, haul! Yes, I speak to my ass in the 3rd person singular. It is large enough to have its own social security number, so it seems only right that I treat it as a distinct individual. The news is, sometimes, it listens.
My relationship with my ass is fraught with antagonism. Big surprise. It is large, and cottage-cheesy. There is lift that wasn't there when I was a non-runner, but no one would mistake it for the ass of a marathoner. In fact, I am the person other runners use to motivate themselves. I can imagine the conversations: "Let's choose somebody to pick off...like her (audible smirk)...Come on, we can blow by that one...How ya doing? Have a nice daaayyyyy (fade to silence as they leave me in the dust)."
Don't get me wrong; runners are nice. I have found them to be the nicest strangers I've ever shared space with. They are encouraging. They cheer for each other. They celebrate later finishers long after their own race is over. They marvel at the faster ones and pull for the slower ones. For my first ever real race, a half marathon at altitude, I carpooled with a world class ultramarathoner who waited for me and ran me in the last half mile, even though she had finished an hour before and could have been off doing bigger, better things. (She invited me to warm up with her before the race too: "My legs don't really feel strong until after the first twenty miles." Hah. I politely declined: 13.1 miles gave me more than enough time to warm up, run strong, then struggle and want to die all within the first 2 miles of the race.)
But runners are also wacko. We systematize hurting ourselves; we maniacally calculate pace and predict PRs and evaluate elevation charts and scrutinize training runs. We study our pain for the lessons it holds. In the middle of a race, when we are pushing and panting and hoping hard to accomplish something new, we need to let go of our bodies and turn to our minds. We play mental games. Thus, we pick people off. We find someone we think we can beat, but not easily. And we chase them down like a predator goes after its prey. My choice meal is skinny girls. I took two out in the last half mile of my last half marathon. One was tall and thin and model pretty...teeheehee. Don't worry--I don't maul them as I pass. They are none the worse for wear, but I am beaming. Feels good to carry my huge ass past their smaller ones.
My new favorite mental game is talking to my ass, commanding it like a pharaoh would slaves. And when it listens, it is my new best friend.
So when you see me walking down the street, don't assume you know me. That round apple that swings at my hips can probably do more than yours can. When my quads and hamstrings need a breather, it steps in like a pinch hitter. When I am moving slowly up a steep incline and I call out to it, it clenches a little harder and pushes a little faster. I've decided not to care what you think: me and my ass, we've become good friends.