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National Editorials & Columns

‘Zippy Grandmas’ are making me look bad

I am woman; hear me breathe hard and gasp for air.

It was brought to my attention that I have not really moved in 16 months. Excuse me, but I beg to differ.

I tone my quads daily by squatting down to the couch and then lifting myself off the couch. There’s no doubt my abs get a serious workout by my lying down in bed, sitting up in bed and lying down again. And my calf muscles are fierce from working the pedals on my car. But yeah, OK, other than those intimidating workouts, I’ve been rather sedentary.

I hide behind my new job. My new baby. My new-age philosophy on accepting one’s body rather than sculpting it. But really, I’m just hiding.

A couple of months ago, I began entertaining the idea of working out — an exercise regimen for my brain, if you will. I then moved on to the proactive stage of setting my alarm clock for an hour earlier each morning. Boy howdy, did I ever get my biceps in shape hitting the snooze button every 10 minutes! I eventually graduated to getting out of bed, changing into my running clothes and then curling up under the covers for another 45 minutes before changing into my work clothes. To be fair, I think I’ve made excellent progress.

Then, this morning, I not only laced up my sneakers but also made it out of my house and to the 1-mile loop around a pond in a nearby park.

I’ll hold for your applause.

Whenever I fool myself into going for a run, I only survive the idiotic journey by setting running goals for myself. Otherwise, I just run to the nearest ice cream truck and call it a day. A very successful day.

Usually, I will set my sights on something in the distance and tell myself, “I can stop when I reach that tree about two football fields away.” But as I run, I opt to abandon that whole crazy tree idea and just run to the trash can one football field away. Then I realize that’s insane and tell myself I can rest once I hit the park bench 100 feet away. Eventually, I just say forget it and start walking, clasping my fingers together at the back of my head as if I’ve just done something impressive.

That method works well for me. I have a system, and I like it. But that whole system goes up in smoke when I’m met by my running foe: speed-walking grandmas!

I hate those grandmas. I hate their little zippy strides. I hate their cute sun visors. I hate their floral pants. I hate that they walk in pairs. I hate their white shoes. I hate that they wear lipstick. And I hate, hate, hate that they smile at me as I run past them while gasping for breath. No one likes to be bested by a floral-clad grandma.

The problem is I let them and their orthopedics get under my skin. When I’m running in the bubble of assumed invisibility, I allow myself pathetically slow speed. I allow myself Humpback of Notre Dame posture. I allow myself multiple breaks. But if an Olympic-hopeful grandma is speed walking past the bench that I’ve intended to take a break at, I force myself to keep running. I straighten my back, quicken my speed, force a fake smile and choke out a friendly “hello” as I run past.

Once out of view from her bifocals, I double over from a full-fledged asthma attack. OK, OK, from a full-fledged out-of-shape attack. This always happens — my face bright red, my legs shaking, my lungs imploding. And inevitably, those goliath grandmas catch up to where I’m doubled over and say, “Oh, honey, are you OK?”

Those jerks! I’m convinced that this is why the elderly are put into homes. We don’t want the shame-inducing competition. It’s them or us!

I’ve been bested by zippy grandmas before. It usually results in my going back to my couch squats.

Maybe I’m going about this wrong. I’m trying to beat the grandma gaggle, but maybe I shouldn’t let my insecurities dictate my actions. Next week, I’ll ask whether I can join them. I have been looking for a place to wear my floral pants. Added bonus: all the hard candy I want!

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