“One day I’d like to run in just my sports bra and shorts, not to show off my body, but to feel air against even more of my skin.” Paria Hassouri, written one year ago on September 15th, 2015.
That’s right… I’m starting my post by quoting myself, and a little later on, we’ll get to why. As you may know, in August, I participated in an activity called the Class Pass Challenge. The challenge was to do something new everyday, and the new thing didn’t have to be big or even fitness related. I had a pretty wide range of activities I participated in, from things as simple as turning off social media for 2 hours before going to bed one night to finally trying trapeze school after wanting to do it for years. In addition to the many lessons this challenge taught me, it made me finally “feel more air.”
Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of the experience was that on the days when I knew I didn’t have a particular new activity scheduled, it forced me to be more aware of my day-to-day habits and environment, and look at my day with fresh eyes, seeing how I could approach it differently even in the smallest way. For example, there was the day that it was already 6:15 pm and I was waiting for rooftop yoga to start. Realizing that nothing new was going to happen that day, I turned to a girl whose mat was close to mine that I’ve seen a few times but never talked to and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Paria. I’ve seen you here on the roof a few times.”
The trapeze incident was a definite reminder of something I know very well about myself. I have major control issues (I’m sure that when my husband comes across this, he will say no shit Sherlock, you didn’t need trapeze school to tell you that.) When you are standing up on that platform, fully and securely strapped in, you really need to lean in to be able to grab the handle and fly. In order to lean in, you feel like you would fall straight down off the platform…. you WOULD fall straight down, IF the instructor wasn’t holding you from behind. You need to relinquish control to the instructor and trust that he has you, and lean in over the edge of the platform to grab the bar. I COULD NOT and DID NOT do that. I stood up there in a panic, shaking and crying, unable to relinquish control to the instructor behind me. Eventually, another instructor had to come up and grab the bar with a pole and bring it in closer to me so that I would not have to lean in.
After the trapeze class, I was pretty disappointed with myself. I turned around and told Jake who had accompanied me and been witness to the whole shaking trembling incident, “That’s my problem. I have such major control issues. I can’t just let go.” Jake turned around and said, “Yes, you do, but there is a reason you have them. I’m sure that your control issues have served you well. I’m sure that they are partly responsible for how far you’ve come in life, for the success that you’ve had.” Ah…. lightbulb… a rephrasing….my control issues have served me well… they have probably helped me more than hindered me. Thank you.
But now let’s cut to the chase and get to the quote. I initially wrote it in the post Truth on September 15th, 2015, and later it was published in an expanded post called Real Life Confessions Of A Runaholic on Women’s Running Magazine on October 27th, 2015. That post on WR was shared more than any other post I’ve written, and the most commentary on the piece was about that one line. “We hope she runs in her sports bra… you don’t need permission for that.”
After all the comments saying that I should run in my sports bra, I promised myself that one day I would, but I didn’t. I will freely admit that I run on the beach on the actual sand while wearing my 2 piece bathing suit, and I post pictures on Instagram of myself doing it, but I’m comfortable with that. You’re expected to be on a beach in a suit. In the last 6 months, I’ve finally started sometimes taking my shirt off in the middle of yoga when I am just too damned hot and I feel a little faint. But that’s yoga… it’s inside with dim lighting, and most of the people have their shirts off, because it is hot. But somehow I equate running outside with my shirt off with people thinking “oh, who does she think she is” and “oh, she must be trying to show off”…. because random people on the street don’t know that I have a thermoregulation problem, and they don’t know that I run to feel free…. I run to breathe….
Once it was class pass challenge month, I thought to myself that if I don’t do it this month, I will never do it. I saw a Facebook post from Teresa who said that she and a group of other ladies would be doing a sports bra run on August 14th, in Austin, as part of this #sportsbrasquad running campaign that has been going around. The premise of the campaign is to love your body as it is now, and not feel that you have to wait to look a certain way to not suffer through heat and just take your damn shirt off. I thought ok, Teresa and her group participating in Austin, this is a sign. I’m going to use these ladies as the inspiration and join them virtually on that day from LA. Knowing that it was going to be on a Sunday early morning, when most people are still sleeping and certainly my kids’ friends wouldn’t be up roaming the streets, I felt a little more comfortable.
How can I describe the run? The best words would be that it was free…. it was flight….I was not the least bit concerned with the loose skin jiggling on my abdomen from 3 babies that remains… the bouncing of not so perky breasts from nursing 3 kids that I refuse to bind in a completely uncomfortable industrial strength sports bra equivalent of a straight jacket… the regular target sports bra is fine for me thanks. I was not the least bit self-conscious that day. I can’t remember if my pace was actually a little faster than my usual runs or not, but I certainly felt like I was flying. I had to get back home to take my middle son to tennis, and I didn’t want it to end… I stayed out there until the last second possible without him being late, and promised myself I’d do it again.
No one starred or honked… no one looked twice at me… at least not that I noticed during my flight of freedom, yet I haven’t done it again….Since that day, I’ve had plenty of runs in LA’s version of heat and humidity when my “sweat-wicking” shirt has been glued to me, and I’ve thought just take your shirt off and you’ll feel so much better, yet I haven’t. Despite the rush of exhilaration … despite being bathed in the air that I had been craving… I haven’t done it again outside of the comfort of doing it on that “assigned day” with Teresa and her group as my motivation….
Why is that??? I don’t have the answer….All I can say, is that I suppose that I am a work in progress.
********A few other things new things I did last month: Listen to a podcast I wouldn’t normally listen to called Invisibilia which I can’t recommend highly enough, read When Breath Becomes Air (fantastic), skip my morning coffee one day and walk to a juicery instead (no thanks, back to coffee), ride the subway into downtown LA with my kids and discover multiple places there, take a pole dancing class with Jake(his idea, so who am I to object) and a pottery class with Jake(my idea), and of course, try multiple new exercise classes.