“Kinda This, Kinda That” in the Mid-pack

3 min read

Mid-pack running

True story

1 Book rec, ancient Toltec wisdom

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*

Mid-life has its miseries. As does adolescence and old age, and while we’re on the topic, puppy-dom. My 11 month-old shepherd-boxsky mix Simba is pushing at my elbow as I write–he has mauled three sets of slippers and my favorite running shoes this week–and I ignore him at my peril.

My point is: Happiness in life stages are all alike; unhappiness in a life stage is unhappy in its own way.* Mid-life for me has fitness challenges. It was most noticeably on display in the Army’s ten-miler around Washington, D.C. this October. I had not trained. Running is not a mid-life habit though I have committed to doing this ten-miler every year, if nothing else than to visit the city of my birth and hang out with soldiers.

This is the sixth time I’ve “run” the race. I use quotes because this year was the first time I did not “run” the ten miles. To be impeccable with my word,* I shuffled the first half. My official split says 11:07 pace for the first five miles. Those five miles were more than I ran in the previous month. Perhaps this year. My hamstrings had been tight and cramping during my training; the IT (iliotibial) band was painful. Rather than do nothing, I walked a lot. I took turmeric and Advil. As for the race: kinda walked, kinda jogged. And, I finished ten miles.

*

Here’s inspiration for the mid-packers and the mid-lifers. Around about mile six, as I’m creeping past the Washington Monument on Independence Avenue, I am feeling every muscle in my legs and my calves are on the verge of full-on charlie horse. Participants in this section wear the race shirt, yep. There are big runners and older runners. There was a double amputee runner, which was humbling beyond words.

As I came to the turn-around block, I noticed a man ahead, his body like a fullback, maybe six feet and 250 pounds. His running shorts were snug over compression tights and his tee-shirt clung to him like a second skin. The clothing was black except for a white fanny back which he wore on his left hip. I saw some sort of print on the back of his tee. I was gaining on him.

He unzipped his fanny pack as he was walking, took out something and tossed it in his mouth. A whiff of grape Nehi hit me. You read it right. A grape chew or something. I was close enough to smell the grape and read the words on his shirt.

Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat.

Kinda Fit Kinda Fat, the Original Donut Weight Shirt logo

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The man was jogging now, surging on his energy chew. I laughed and laughed, forgetting my pain. Thinking I resembled the remark on his shirt, kinda fit and kinda fat. It was enough to distract me on those last miles across the Potomac River and back to the Pentagon. I walked and jogged, but mostly I walked. It was warm on the final stretch.

I jogged over the rubber hump at the Finish, the stands full, sounds blasting over the speakers. I grabbed a bottle of water and tossed it back, the coolness trickling down my throat. As I turned into the Pentagon South Lot, I saw him. Standing and waiting, the fanny pack runner had finished. Ahead of me.

“I love your shirt,” I said, as I looked at the logo. “One of the best I’ve seen today.” He gushed, his whole face in a smile.

Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat.

  • “We are a community dedicated to those who love fitness and food.”
  • “You can be and SHOULD be proud of your body no matter what stage of the fitness journey you are on.”
  • “Hit them PRs. Make them gainz. Eat that donut.”*

*

After the race, a group of us head over to Matchbox restaurant for lunch. The staff brought them out late, but they were heaped onto the platter, hot from the kitchen with chocolate syrup.

Fresh donuts.

*

FOOTNOTES

*Play on Leo Tolstoy’s first lines to Anna Karenina. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” The Anna Karenina principle states that a deficiency in any one of a number of factors dooms an endeavor to failure. Consequently, a successful endeavor (subject to this principle) is one for which every possible deficiency has been avoided.

*Toltec Wisdom: Be impeccable with your word. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

*Kinda Fit, Kinda Fat. Founder/CEO is Dan Tangalo: “Growing up, I was a chubby, awkward, and nerdy kid. Not being blessed with the talent of athleticism, I struggled with sports, and as a result, I struggled with my self-esteem. It wasn’t until college that I picked up my first weight at the gym which ultimately began my fitness journey.”

Oct 27, 2022

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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