06 August 2011

vanity, running, and oompa-loompas

A moment from my rainy morning to share with you on this quiet, gray Saturday afternoon.

I ran 9{ish} miles this morning in the rain. That's -ish because I ran without a watch and without paying attention to the mile markers.

After living here for almost six years, I have a good enough sense of miles on the Prairie Path, the crushed gravel path that is taken over every Saturday and Sunday morning in the summer with people training for long-distance races.

I know that it's about 3 miles from where I live now to an intersection by the apartment building I first lived in when I came here. {I had a studio apartment then on the 16th floor of a high rise, and I felt very Mary Tyler Moore whenever I stepped through the doorway of my own place.}

Then it's maybe another 1.5 miles to a subdivision construction site: it's been in progress for more than a year—maybe even two years—and they haven't gotten much past the "level the dirt" phase. Every time I run past it, I think about how it's a sign of the times and how it's an object lesson in the housing bubble.

So 9{ish} miles this morning as I train for the Air Force Half-marathon on September 17 {and then the Prince Edward Island Half-marathon a month after that}.

The rain kept me cooler, and I was thankful for it, but here's a confession: I have horrible tan lines from my trip to France. And my attempts to deal with them have not proven successful, especially this morning in the rain.

I'll explain that, I promise, but first: Why, oh why, did I think I needed a watch on the sunny day that Amie and I biked for 30 miles? We weren't on any schedule; we had no appointments to make. Why did I need to know the time as we biked past sea salt fields and vineyards? To see if the workers were on schedule?

And why did I choose to wear a t-shirt that day, instead of a tank top?

It was a shirt from my NYC half-marathon: did I think it made me look sportier, more capable of biking 30 miles on a flat island where the only challenge was passing slower people on the path?

And why was I concerned about looking sporty anyway? It was France; French people have the oddest idea of what counts as "work out attire." It involves full make-up for women, by the way.

Once, I ran five miles along the Seine and past the Eiffel Tower. It was November, and it was gray and rainy in Paris that day. I had on capri running pants and a water-repellant black jacket. My hair was pulled back tautly, and I had a sporty headband on, the kind that slicks your bangs back so they don't distract you.

Most of the other runners I saw had scarves on and not the kind you use for warmth. They had on fashion scarves, creatively and so French-ly draped around their necks.

Many of them wore normal jackets, and most of the women had their hair flying behind them and in their eyes.

And yet they looked at me—in my just-stepped-out-of-a-Runner's World-photo-shoot outfit—as if I were the one in crazy clothes. I assume this is because I didn't have on make-up because I clearly was dressed appropriately: we Americans are very committed to our athletic-looking work out clothes. We know how to look healthy.

So because I was concerned about looking sporty and knowing what time it was on a bike ride in France, I now have these tan lines. Usually, these wouldn't bother me, but I'm in a wedding next weekend, and while it's taking place in a farming state, it's probably best not to showcase an actual farmer's tan while standing there in a sleeveless gray dress.

Try as I may, I haven't—as a cubicle-bound person most of the week and therefore limited on the hours I can spend suntanning—been able to even out the lines.

Therefore, I'm doing a little self-inflicted spray tan. And therefore, in the rain this morning, I panicked that I was dripping orange, leaving an Oompa-loompa colored trail of a vain attempt at vanity along the Prairie Path.

I don't think I actually was—it's a pretty good self-tanning product, I promise; it's not like I'm simply dying myself with henna.

But when I wiped the sweat/rain from my forehead at one point, I'm relatively certain I saw orange on my hands. Panic, of course, ensued, as did spot checking every other part of my body.

The only thing worse than a farmer's tanned bridesmaid is a streaky Oompa-loompa colored one.

I don't plan on being either.

When I was showering after my run, I saw that my self-tanner panic was for naught. I am still fake tan in a natural-looking sort of way, and my watch line is less evident.

I've learned a few things from this experience:
  1. Don't wear a watch on a bike ride in France. This tip applies mostly when it's sunny out, and I guess it applies to non-French bike rides, too.
  2. I am not an Oompa-loompa, height similarities aside.
  3. Vanity is ridiculous, whether it's applied to "trying to look sporty" or "trying to not look like a farmer."

    This brings to mind a quote from Jane Austen {sometimes I like to throw in references to her so that my blog title is not in vain}: "Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously...Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us."

    {Read this, please, in a British accent. If you didn't do that, please go back and read it again.}
That Jane. She knew what she was talking about, so maybe she did prepare me for something: for my run this morning in the rain, panicking about orange on the Prairie Path and realizing later that it was my rightful comeuppance {when talking about Jane Austen, you have to use words like "comeuppance"} for my vanity.

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