“Mommy, Why Does That Man Not Have A Shirt On?”

Posted on November 8, 2010


First and foremost, it is imperative to note that this entry is completely G-rated.  Although I am sure most people who perused the title assume that there is a possibility I may have run in the nude yesterday for my final long run, I assure you I did no such thing.  Now did I think of it as a sort of proper send-off to my long training?  Of course I didn’t.  In fact, the thought never entered my mind again after Rachel talked me out of it.  All kidding aside, yesterday in fact concluded our last long run.  We ran 8 miles on a beautiful day where the temperature was a cool 60 degrees in the shade and the clouds refused to make their appearance.  But the main thing that stood out in our minds was not the conclusion of a long training schedule, but rather, the young child who asked her mother as I ran by, “Mommy, why does that man not have a shirt on.”

I will admit I am a bit perturbed that the child referred to me as a man.  Sure I am 31 years old, but I would rather she refer to me as a boy or at least a young man.  If I do not give off the aura of a young man while I am running then what the heck am I running for?  I apologize.  I am simply revealing the feelings of my inner man-child who was harmed by the little girl’s inquiry.  Don’t worry though, I am sure I will get over it in about two maybe three years.

I was, in fact, running without a shirt yesterday.  To be honest, I do it about 75% of the time.  For me running is about comfort, especially long distance running.  I do not like a shirt rubbing against my skin because I feel as though it provides less comfort, chafes and slows me down.  Most of all it causes farmer’s tan, which is a growing epidemic among runners.  It’s not as though I have some narcissistic need to demonstrate my six pack abs that are less “The Situation” and more a glob of Jell-O Jigglers.  Well, at least I am not vain right.  Maybe I am just a foodie since I compared my stomach to jell-o which happens to sound absolutely yummy at the moment.  And I am not talking that sugar free kind.  Anyway, I digress. 

It would honestly be a lie if I said I felt comfortable running without a shirt.  To be direct, I always feel self-conscious.  Before a run I usually dispose of my shirt in the car only to retrieve it when I am done.  The walk to the starting line usually consists of me asking Rachel a dozen times if I should run with my shirt.  Of course Rachel always replies, “No, you look great!” (Liar, but okay…I love you)  Thus, I do my best to trust her, although I usually look down at my stomach throughout my run wondering why my stomach ripples like ocean waves and has an acute inability to resemble any washboard.  Why do I still do sit-ups?  Well, at least they give me the illusion I am working towards a six pack and attempting to discard my 2-liter coke of a tummy. 

In answer to that young girl’s question, I was running without my shirt in 70 degree weather because I was hot.  Walking in the park with a strong wind and cool temperature may be comfortable to some people, but not to those running long distances with most of the run coming in direct sunlight.  To my defense I did not intend to run without my shirt.  In fact I wore it for the first four miles before succumbing to the heat.  As I was running I pulled off my shirt all slow motion-like with my hair blowing in the wind.  Okay, it wasn’t such a picturesque moment.  In fact, I was wearing a cap.  But, try to imagine a young man (yes young man) ripping his shirt off as the sun glistens off the small sweat beads of his remarkably tan and toned body.  At least that’s how I try to imagine Rachel sees the moment.  Of course she’s probably thinking, “Oh my god here we go again.  Why did I tell him he looks good?  He thinks he has such a nice tan. Hello, you’re Mexican.” 

In the end I finished with my shirt on, mainly because the wind picked up.  No, it had nothing to do with the young girl that nearly ran into me with her bike and turned to her mom to ask why I had no shirt.  It also had nothing to do with the 45-year old guy that ran passed us with an 8-pack…seriously.  It even caught Rachel’s attention.  In fact, she was the one that turned to me and said, “Oh my god, how old is he?” which really meant, “Oh my god he looks great for his age and those abs were wonderful.  Can we do our laundry on them this weekend?”  Can you believe her?  That would make anyone put their shirt back on (but again not why I did.)  Maybe going shirtless while running isn’t the best thing to do after all.  On second thought, I think anyone who runs wants to be as comfortable as possible.  If I am just an old man running without a shirt then so be it.  At least I am running.