Coming To Terms With Running

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By Kate

I’d say runners, as a group, are not a vain bunch of people.  While we can appreciate the positive changes running can bring to our bodies, I wouldn’t say we’re the type of people who worry about what we look like on the road – let’s be honest, it is possible to look fresh after a half marathon but after a marathon or more there is sweat, sunscreen, Vaseline, water, salt and who knows what else forming the great barrier between what the people on the cover of the Runners World look like and reality.

So generally when I get home from a long run and look in the mirror and want to run (or limp as fast as my tired legs can carry me) away, I just jump into the shower and emerge (hopefully) looking like a different person.  And this is why I can handle looking at the exhausted tired Kate because the make up and straightened hair Kate is just a shower and some TLC away.  This is why I have a serious problem with what has happened to me over the past couple of months – I have (gasp!) a runner’s tan.

This horrendous story of doom and gloom (and if you could see me you would know I’m not exaggerating!) began in January when I ran the Johnson Crane marathon and forgot to put on sunscreen.

No problem I thought – it’s summer, how hard can it be to get rid of a sock, shorts, vest, bra, watch and hat tan?  Evidently very hard because no matter how much sunscreen I put on the lines reinforced themselves until eventually my favourite pair of tiny denim shorts can no longer be worn because they show tanned legs, a pale, almost translucent bit of white skin and then the shorts.  I swear small children were pointing at me in the shops and laughing.

No problem I thought – I’m on leave in March and visiting the parents down in Durban, perfect tanning time to get rid of my now rainbow nation body since I am so tanned in some places I look coloured and so pale in others I look like I’m from Alaska.  And so I diligently spent time in the sun and got rid of the short, sock and vest tan (it involved being burnt to a crisp in the pale spots, but it was so worth it).

I got to wear my denim shorts for all of a week until the Bergville to Ladysmith ultra happened this Saturday.  52km in 30 degree heat – my poor body didn’t stand a chance!  Once I was finished (literally and figuratively) I looked at myself in the mirror and wanted to cry – the tan is back and ten times worse.

So I give up – goodbye vanity, goodbye tiny denim shorts, I’ll see you after Comrades.  I guess I should just be grateful winter is approaching so I can cover up and not have to subject the non-running population to my weirdly burnt body.  The things we do for the sport we love.

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One Response to Coming To Terms With Running

  1. Kira April 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I have had stares and laughs ever since that marathon due to my horrendous tan lines! Now, when i’m not running i spend all my time trying out fake tans to cover my legging tan before my friend’s wedding next weekend – my dress is just the wrong length! On the other hand I’ve decided I have to wear my tan like a badge of honour, a mark of the hard work, early mornings, sunburn, and tired legs that have become my life for the last 5 months…
    See you at the start!

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