A few years ago, when I first started “running” (after a long struggle with Lyme disease), a friend came to cheer me on at a race. His comments were, “You don’t wear anything to run in that distinguishes you from other runners. I couldn’t spot you in the race. You’re going to have to wear something brighter next time so I can see you.”
I find this funny now, but when I first started running, I didn’t want to look like “a runner”. I didn’t want anyone to think I could run or had any ability in the running stakes. If I could have run in just pajamas, I would have done so, but feared that too might draw attention to me. Instead, I opted for a pair of long black trousers I’d worn through my last birth (call them maternity trousers, but they did a great job doubling as dance slacks and running trousers), a natty t-shirt and cross trainers. I figured with this look, no one would recognize me as a runner (I just looked like a weirdo instead). This strategy worked well, in fact, too well. You see, what I’ve learned via experience is that it’s really not a good idea to wear long black trousers in 90F weather to run 6 miles at noon. I know, trust me; it’s not a good idea.
Typically during summers in Maine the temps can range from 70-100F, but rarely do they reach over 80F for prolonged periods of time. It does get super humid, though, making long runs unpleasant unless you’re well ventilated and in the right clothing. On one lunch-time run I discovered this first-hand. I’d headed out in my chosen garb; the long black trousers, the t-shirt, the cross trainers, to run 6 miles around Back Cove, a pleasant loop around a body of water in Portland, and back to the office where I work. It was in the 90s, it was humid and there was very little breeze. I had no discomfort until the last mile. At that stage, my trousers were wet with sweat; in fact, I was soaked from my head to my toes in sweat. I had to stop, but when I stopped, my hands started swelling up. I had no idea what was happening. I thought I was experiencing the first signs of a heart attack or something more sinister. I was afraid and I could only think of getting out of the sun and getting some water. I made my way up the street looking for any establishment that might be open that could help me. I convinced myself I was dying, holding on to hot brick walls for balance, as I made my way up the street.
The first establishment I came to was an employment center. Confident I’d found help, I opened the door and approached the reception desk, asking if I could have some water. I was shocked when the reply was, “We don’t have any water.” Again, thinking I was dying, with full-on panic in my voice I asked, “Is it okay if I just sit in that chair over there with my head between my legs so I don’t pass out. I think I’m having a heart attack, I’ve just run all of Back Cove and I think I’m over heated and my hands are swelling and I think I’m having a heart attack.” That got a reply. The man behind the counter jumped into action, not only offering me water, but offering to call anyone I might need to contact so they could come help me before I died in the job center. I told him I was supposed to be at a meeting at my office in less than 15 minutes, so if he could phone my office, let them know I was somewhat detained and that I’d be there as soon as I felt it was safe to walk without passing out, I’d be there.
When I’d recovered sufficiently to leave the employment center and walk back to work, I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. I looked terrible. I looked worse than terrible. I looked freakish and bloated and red all over. Okay, that was no excuse for someone making a snap judgment to let me die before I explained my appearance, but still, it got me thinking. Why was I wearing clothes that were dragging me down and now, potentially, life-threatening? It was a turning point.
When you’ve gone all non-running clothes, transitioning into what I would refer to as proper running clothes, (you know, wicked tops, shorts with built in undies, being fitted for proper running shoes, etc), can be very intimidating. It can really move you out of your mental comfort zone, though, as I’ve discovered, move you into a physical comfort zone. Making the transition from heavy cotton to Lycra can be very, well, disturbing, if you’re at all body conscious, and let’s face it, almost every women I know is just a bit (especially me!!). And with so many brands of clothing out there, how do you choose one brand over the other?
I guess my answer was made for me when I got fitted for my first pair or proper running shoes; a pair of purple Brooks Ravinas that I fell instantly in love with!! The rest of my relationship with Brooks Running is history. When I ran the New York City Marathon in 2010, I wore Brooks tops, capris and shoes (picture left). I also ran for all of those battling Lyme disease under “Lymerunner” a persona I have taken on since.
Since becoming the Lymerunner, it seems only right that I should start to wear more Lyme green (pictured right). I can’t be happier with Brooks. The clothes are light weight when needed, warm when needed, they fit me just right and I love their comfort. Brooks service is second to none. Ordering online is a breeze, delivery is efficient and nothing pleases me more than receiving my goods a week later, knowing I’ve got top quality gear to wear on my next run.
I guess in a way Brooks has made it much easier for me to now not only look like a “runner”, but to perform like one. Over the years, wearing Brooks gear, I’ve been able to achieve new PRs and even qualify for the Boston Marathon, which I’ll be running in 2014 (picture left: 2013 Tri for A Cure with Joanna Connor and Annette Coulombe, picture right: The Nation Tri, PR of 45:00 for a 10K in 91F heat).
I’m looking forward to continuing to wear the Brooks brand as I work on improving my running, setting new goals and achieving new heights (picture left with Joan Benoit Samuelson August 2013). I’ll continue to support my Lyme buddies by wearing my Lyme green tops, and just in time for winter training, I’ve purchased my new favourite piece of Brooks gear, a new Lyme green, rain proof, wind proof, glow in the dark winter training jacket. Bring on Boston and don’t ever say you can’t spot me in a crowd of runners!!!
So that’s my evolution. Thank you Brooks Running for bringing it about!!! (picture right, my new winter running coat, bought especially for those morning winter training runs in preparation for the Boston marathon 2014). If only all evolutions could be so simple and effective!