Tatiana Talks

Keep Philadelphia Beautiful, Guys

So, now that it is finally warming up on the East Coast, I think it is time to address something that has long bothered me when I am running on Kelly Drive.

No, not the crazies, or the horn honkers, or the high school rowers who walk six across on the path. I’m talking about something I can actually do something about. 

Guys. Running. Without shirts on.

I understand running is a sweaty activity, and when the mercury climbs you want to be wearing as little as possible. So, if the PECO building is flashing a temperature above 90, I will give you guys a pass. I'm even a little jealous.

Eighty-nine degrees and below, fellas, and I'm telling you, cover it up.

And this isn’t just for me. It's for you, too.

I mean, why are we running on Kelly Drive in the first place? To get healthy. Right. Okay, so what’s our second reason? To look good. Maybe even to attract a potential mate?

No? That's not why you are out there (insert eye-roll). Fine. You get a pass, too. 

But, if you happen to think, as you are coordinating your running shorts with your wristbands, how nice it would be to run into a cute girl who can keep your pace, keep reading.

While I recognize I don't represent women everywhere, I did conduct a quick survey and found that unless you look like Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love, we will not be impressed when your sweaty self comes lumbering towards us. Instead, we may be repulsed.

However, if I see a perfectly normally shaped man headed towards me, even if he is a little round in the belly, I can find him very attractive and start wondering about all the other sweaty things we can do together.

But, when I see a guy naked from the waist up, nine times out of ten I'm thinking only one thing: Where the eff is your shirt?

Take, for example, Peyton Manning.

I have loved Peyton Manning for most of my adult life. However, I had never seen him shirtless. Not until he was on SNL a few years back. He did this sketch (I warn you, it isn’t funny), and if I didn't already love him I wouldn't be capable of getting past his frozen chicken breast like chest (really, he’s a professional athlete?). No amount of pass completions or clever MasterCard commercials could have erased that image from my retinas.

Need something closer to home. You got it.

I was recently out on Kelly Drive (in capri pants and a tank top even though the Runner’s World app suggested I wear the shortest shorts I could find and a sports bra) when I passed an acquaintance running sans shirt. Now, because I’m single for life, I wasn’t attracted to this guy before this run-in. Still, I knew he was single and had considered his potential for any one of my wonderful friends. And, if it came down to describing him, I would’ve said: tall with a pretty decent body. After all, he was always talking about all the races and working out he did; I figured it was fair to assume his body was nice.

Oh, would I have been wrong. His skin was so pale it was practically translucent. It was like that scene in the first X-men movie when the senator is walking out of the ocean all jellyfish-like. I didn’t know if I should avert my eyes or find him sunscreen. Either way, he quickly moved from potential hottie for one of my friends to how do I tell her about his six chest hairs. 

And while you might not think being on my hot list is an honor, being hooked up with one of my friends certainly is. Reason number 7 you should always wear a shirt -- the first six being skin cancer.

Oh, and lest you think I'm being sexist, I don't want to see you Ryan Gosling look-a-likes without your shirts either. But that is mostly because I find it distracting. And when I'm distracted I fall.

Or run into light posts.

My Inner Athlete

I was recently out with the girls when Bridie noted that it seemed “I had gotten my athlete back.”

For those of you that don’t know, I used to be an athlete: a Division 1, full college scholarship athlete. But I lost it. Well, not so much lost as suppressed. Not because I wasn’t proud, but because, during my four years of college among the many things I learned about myself, I discovered I am a terrible loser. My competitive side, is not my pretty side.

But something happened to me recently that brought my athlete out of retirement.

For the past several years I have run a half marathon in my hometown. It started as something my brother and I did, but I liked the race so much, that I continued to run it, even after he flew south.

The race is almost always the weekend before the Broad Street Run, and since I had set a goal for myself for the BSR (as the cool kids call it – or so they tell me) I wanted to just run a nice and easy (read slow) 13.1 miles. And that is exactly what I was prepared to do, until I saw him.

Now, since this blog already has an ambiguous male nicknamed him, and because this him went to my high school and half the population of my high school was named Mike, we will call him Mike.

Mike and I never got along. Maybe because he was the popular athlete and I was the mouthy newspaper editor or maybe because I purposely steered Mike in the wrong direction whenever he asked for help on an assignment or maybe because this was real life and not a romantic teen comedy where we would have been named prom king and queen -- regardless of the why, there was no love lost between Mike and I.

And there he was. At the starting line of my race.

The athlete immediately started whispering in my ear: cooing words like redemption and vindication. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and turned away from Mike. I walked towards the back of the pack, silencing the athlete. I was going to run my slow and steady race. I would not let her get in my head.

But then, a couple of miles into the race, there he was again. And as soon as I spotted him, the athlete was back in my ear.

Pass him.

Pass him.

But I couldn’t just pass him. Passing him meant keeping up this pace, possibly getting faster, looking over my shoulder the whole time, worrying he was gaining on me, not letting him pass me, not letting myself just give up and finish.

Pass him.

Besides. He probably won’t even recognize me when I pass him. And if he recognizes me, he won’t care.

But you will care, she countered. You will know you passed him. You will know you beat him. All the hurt and anger and self-hatred and self-doubt that this guy inspired in you and others all those years ago, you can leave all of that behind along with him.

Then she started naming names. Names of friends I had long forgotten. Friends whose hearts were broken by this guy. I saw his smug high school smile. I remembered the time I heard him call me a bitch.

My eyes narrowed and my stride lengthened.  The athlete was back.

There were times throughout those next 11 miles when I thought I couldn’t do it. When I worried that he was right behind me, or that I was going to run out of steam. But she kept me going; kept pushing me until the very end.

And then at the end, she turned and waited to watch him finish (several minutes later). She looked right at him and smiled, turned on her heel and strutted away.

Sometimes she’s not a good winner either, but I think I’m gonna keep her around all the same.

Table for One

Sometimes it’s lonely being single. Of course it is. But sometimes the loneliness hits you when you least expect it.

Friends and I signed up for a party run. For the uninitiated -- a party run is a race followed by a party. But by the time the race came around, everyone had backed out for one reason or another.

Everyone except me.

Now, typically I run by myself, so it wasn’t the race that worried me. It was before the run that had me freaking out. Before a run you are just standing around, talking with friends, trying to keep warm, thinking about bailing, and wondering why you keep signing up for these things.  You hop around, you laugh, judge other runners and wait for the starting gun. But when you are alone, well, you just stand there. Alone. Surrounded by hundreds of people.

Of course I thought about bailing, too, as I walked down to the start. I kept thinking I can just go home. No one will know.

But I had made a promise to myself earlier. If I went to run, I didn’t have to face the party. After all, this was my choice -- to be single. And being single means sometimes I will be all by myself. Sometimes there will be things I want to do that no one is contractually obligated to do with me. But all that pep talk aside, I still wasn’t ready to go to a party alone.

When I finally made it to the starting line, it wasn’t nearly as bad or as lonesome as I feared. I saw people I knew, talked to them for a bit. Checked my bag, lined up at the start. Saw CK. He wasn’t running but was waiting dutifully with his new girlfriend. I waved. He waved back. Then the gun went off, I took off, and before I knew it, the race was over and I had finished the four miles in a time that even shocked me.

I was feeling so good post-race, I almost wanted to brave the party.

Maybe next year.