I don’t know how super heroes do it. Superman could transform from nerdy Clark Kent to man of steel in the blink of an eye as long as a telephone booth was handy. Batman had his bat cave. And all the Incredible Hulk needed was for the sun to set. With that said, those of us that are mere mortals trying to squeeze in a super human training run between already packed lives of work, parenting, and other social obligations, live in pure fear of the quick change.
Let me explain. In my case, I usually either have my running clothes on and I am hastily packing my wardrobe for work or I have put together workout (in my case running) clothes for a midday escape. The latter is easier to deal with as I can make do without running socks, my ipod, my sportswatch or my favorite running hat. Forgetting my running shoes, my running tights or shorts, or my sports bra usually leads to inevitable postponement of my workout and I am left to deal with the aftermath: short-term depression and disappointment. What I really live in mortal fear of is finishing my workout, getting a quick shower, or in a desperate case the less than adequate sponge off in a woman’s restroom and discovering that I failed to pack an essential piece of my wardrobe. I’ve gone through all of the possible configurations and outcomes, and some are easier to overcome than others.
For example, these days a woman can pass wearing a dress without pantyhose, with the bare leg being considered fashion chic (but rather chilly in these winter months), or I can usually count on finding a nearby drugstore that sells a small assortment of hosiery. Forget those fashionable shoes? I just pretend I’m one of those commuting business women that wear trainers to speed walk the streets of the city and I carry a bag to keep up the illusion that my really cute designer pumps are just a change away. Forgetting a key element of the under garment wardrobe takes imagination. I convince myself that I am reliving the late 60s or early 70s when such conventions were considered bourgeois and quite optional. Even so, that’s a pretense I keep as my little secret. Forgetting a blouse or shirt is only salvageable if I have a layering jacket or sweater and I can channel a prim, buttoned-up look. Forgetting a pair of slacks or skirt is by all estimates unrecoverable. I haven’t found a way to integrate spandex or wick-free running shorts into the career ensemble.
Now, I could easily recover from any of the above wardrobe faux pas if I had all the time in the world, but I live my life close to the edge, not wanting to miss a moment of possibility. In my case, I’m facing transformations that must take place in a series of minutes rather than hours. I’ve gone from a mud-spattered biking woman to opera attendee, with no one but me noticing that the extra texture in my hair wasn’t the latest mousse, but rather the sediment from a muddy bike ride. I’ve run through torrents of rain, using the hand dryer in the restroom to fluff and buff my career look before a critical board meeting. And I’ve gone from snowshoes to cocktail reception without betraying that I was still wearing a thermal base layer underneath my evening ensemble. So far, I’ve been lucky. But one of these days, I fear that I’ll be like a modern day Superman in search for a telephone booth that has long become obsolete. In that moment, the real me will be exposed and my secret will be out. You will discover that I am the super hero that has been here all along. You just didn’t realize I was there.