Every Tuesday morning I go for a run around the Tan with the gazelle.
To be more specific, it is the gazelle who does the running. She is built for it, with long slim legs that she stretches out across the track, and she is ever so light and easy on her feet, and she makes it look so completely natural and effortless, like she's just sort of floating along on the air thinking happy thoughts and singing la la la to herself while bluebirds flutter and chirp in the air around her.
I hate her.
I do not do the running. I do the staggering. I pound along next to her, like an overweight elephant on a treadmill that's going too fast, with my heart in my throat and a band around my chest and my lungs feeling like they're on the cusp of exploding into a million bloody bits of tissue that will fly out of my mouth in a revolting vomit of bile and bronchioles that covers everyone in front of me (the Tan gets crowded in the morning).
People would run away screaming. There would be news reports. In death, I would be famous as the woman who burst while taking her morning exercise.
Too graphic? That's how running makes me feel.
I can knock out 7.5 kilometres like this, and at the end I am broken. Stinking, dripping in sweat and purple in the face. The gazelle trips off lightly to her car while fairies brush her hair.
Aside: apparently there are two kinds of runners in the world:
- Attachers, who focus on their breathing and their tempo and their rhythm, and who kind of just zero in on the whole thing obsessively, disappearing into themselves in a kind of meditation. The gazelle is an attacher. (I hate these people. )
- Detachers, who desperately try to think of anything else they can, in order to distract themselves from the whole running experience. Shopping lists, work projects, relationship issues - anything that is external to the body but allows them to keep running as if they are not experiencing it. I have work colleagues who are detachers. (I hate these people too.)
Me, I am the third kind of runner. I am the runner who, two minutes into an hour-long run, is already desperately hoping the whole thing is nearly up, while my brain screams It Hurts! Omigod, what are you DOING? Stop! Now! This is madness! You are CRAZY! I am going to make you REGRET THIS!!
Seriously, that's the internal monologue I get when I'm running. Sounds fun, doesn't it?
So when the gazelle had a birthday recently, I seriously considered making her the snail cake, because that's what I feel like when I am running next to (or more usually: quite a long way behind) her. I also considered one of the two elephants in The Book as well, for obvious reasons.
I'd have made a gazelle if there was one, but The Book is pretty scarce on gazelles. Because their legs are too thin, I think. Not enough cake there to make them worth biting into. Although sometimes the gazelle is so fast that I feel like biting her just out of sheer bloody-mindedness.
But I decided that the cake was not about me, it was about her. And so all those options were wrong.
In the end I settled on Mildred The Mouse, because Mildred is so sweet and lovely that you can't help but want to be her friend. Mildred is cute, and nice, and just downright adorable.
Which is really what I actually feel about the gazelle .... except when we are running.