True Madness. A few years ago I wrote a blog post for Oiselle detailing the fantastic awfulness of the month of March and how it has often led me to make highly questionable choices in all aspects of my life: career, social, romantic, athletic, aesthetic, fashion... The article was accompanied by a photograph of me in a green wig and mustache, ready to race a serious event but sporting a costume for Saint Patrick's Day.
So when Oiselle asked me to think about a blog detailing the method behind my madness pertaining to clothing choices for running during a month in which our Minnesota weather can vary from blizzard conditions to one memorable 80 degree Saint Paddy's Day, I knew I was the woman for the job. See, here's the thing: March is random and extreme, and I am random and extreme. March and I have a love/hate relationship because March makes me do crazy things, but then I can blame those crazy things on March. March and alcohol. I'll call it March Madness (I wonder if that term is already a thing....)
I am going to structure the discussion of my clothing choice randomness in March based on the concept of the seven-layer salad, an idea I have to a credit to Oiselle's own Jess Barnard (well, she said "seven-layer combo," and I immediately thought seven-layer salad). I once had a job at a local grocery store (shout out to Hy-Vee, a good home-grown Iowa company) in the salad bar/juice bar. As part of my duties, I was often asked to make seven-layer salads in pretty containers. I was the only member of our salad bar staff to have a college degree, and I had graduated Phi Beta Kappa. I was headed off to a PhD program in clinical psychology. But do you think I could remember the seven f'ing ingredients in the salad, let alone the order? I had to use the "recipe" card every single time. I guess maybe I didn't care enough? Yeah, that's what I'll say....
So, according to Wikipedia, here is the definition of a seven-layer salad:
"Seven-layer salad is an American dish that includes a colorful combination of seven layers of ingredients: iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, sweet peas, hard boiled eggs, sharp cheddar cheese, and bacon pieces."
I'm fairly certain that this ingredient list is in order from bottom to top, though, as I previously stated, I pretty much sucked at my job. (Tangent: I also insisted on answering the phone by saying "Juice bar" in what I thought was a hysterical sexy lisping manner. The manager didn't think it was quite as funny as I did, but many of my colleagues thought it was great, and I didn't get fired, so... no harm, no foul, as they say.)
In a nod to the salad days of March (an oxymoron, given that salad days refers to the heyday or youthful beginning of something and March is no heyday nor does it feel at all youthful), then, here's my layering attempt at getting it right when dressing for a March event in high fashion. From outer to inner layers, here we go!
This is the staple, the hardiness, the no-nonsense Jungle-Chicken-laughs-last-and-laughs-best in the face of a snowy and windy, nasty March day. We're talking Call Her Jacket and sassy Pom Beanie. So it's a biting cold? Hey, March - bite me!
Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? (We all know it's a fruit by now thanks to the PR campaign run by the head of media relations for the tomato.) So it's confusing, it's versatile, it's misunderstood, it's fighting back -- just like Jungle Chicken! Here we go with a classic and understated Aero Jacket paired with the surprisingly sassy Denim Track Pants. They look like jeans, they look like sweatpants, they look... STRAIGHT STREET. Just like me. (This is sarcasm. Though I live by myself in the city and consider myself pretty badass, I actually live my life on a day-to-day basis much more like that of a suburban housewife. Think too many cats, manicured lawn, honest-to-god white picket fence, decorating for holidays with cutesy mantelpiece displays and confetti EVERYWHERE!) So like I said: tattoos and sex, drugs, rock and roll and pants that look sort of like denim! Yep. I've still got it.
It's a necessary layer. It adds texture, crunch, without adding much flavor. Someone had to do it. The cucumber stepped up to the plate to get the job done. Like the second runner on a relay team: no fanfare, no glory, but ya gotta get the baton from the lead-off to the third runner--without losing ground. So it's the black Wazzie Wool Base Layer with or without the Trail Bird Sweatshirt and the black Lux Track Pants. It's stealth, it's necessary, and it's oh-so-comfortable. I can run in this, but mostly I just sit around watching NCAA basketball and having a beverage and some chips in it. Cheers! Let's celebrate the strong, silent type.
They add flavor and pizzazz to everything. Yet alone they're kinda nasty -- too strong. No one picks up an onion and just bites into it and eats it. You add it to things. And so it is with the Vigor Vest. Or is it? Can we mess it up, March? Can we be cray-zee and bold? Can we just wear it all by itself? The answer is yes! If you're Lauren Fleshman. Maybe not if you're the Jungle Chicken. Maybe if you have more tats than cats. But I'm gonna go for it! March makes me do things that I may regret later--I warned you!
Awww... it's a term of endearment. We're having some fun now! We're contrasting the biting winds of March with those odd, blessed days when the winds blow warm from the South and the birds chirp and those of us in the Northern climes spot our first robin in the yard (my mom used to have a fun contest for our family: whoever saw the first robin of the spring got a dollar! It meant a lot in those days when a dollar could buy three candy bars and you were seven years old and three candy bars would double your weight!). Optimism! We shed our long layers and reveal our shockingly pale, pasty-white legs and arms to the world (to whom we apologize--wait a few months and we'll sun-damage/tan ourselves into a better aesthetic). Tee-shirts are now revealed with our political statements like Speak Out or Runners Against Doping. And brand loyalties like the Oiselle Logo Tee or the Oiselle Wing Dolman, and we dare to go out in shorts... but have to run a little faster than we had planned/hoped in order to stay warm. These are the times in which we bite off more than we can chew, get too big for our britches, dare to dream about the warmth of summer a wee bit too soon and then realize too late that we were "a day early and a dollar short" (unless we were the first to see that robin!)... but lie to ourselves and our friends that we're fine, we're not too cold. And then our lips turn blue. Yeah--too soon. Too early. Too optimistic--but is there such a thing? And don't even get me started on arm warmers... they're like the leg warmers that I remember so fondly from the '80's, except EVEN BETTER!
HARD BOILED EGGS
And... we're back to hard. We had gone from the biting onion to the sweetest of peas and now we're back to hard. Here we have some protein! Some substance! Some grit and toughness and a return to the grind. Something to get us through the day, the week, the challenge of the month of March. We don't wear this to train yet, because it's still way too early for that, but give us a challenge when we race or do speed on the track and we show our F-YOU grit. Yeah, I'm talking about the Flyte Tank. Put it on to race. Shed your top layers to reveal it on your last interval to give you that extra boost. SUN'S OUT?! GUNS OUT! Let the world see those arms for the first time since early October. No hiding anymore. Keepin' it real, March. Fear me. Let the lion roar.
SHARP CHEDDER CHEESE
Emphasis on the "sharp." No longer afraid, fine-tuned precision machine. At least that's how we feel on those first days when the sun shines bright, the temps climb, and the world is at our fingertips (or fleet feet). You feel me? That's right -- I'm showing you my "nasty woman" abs and you can run scared (and I mean that for better or for worse). There's no hiding behind the winter anymore. There's no hiding behind layers. They're all stripped away, peeled away, torn off, and now the party truly starts. I'm down to the skin, I'm raw, I'm real... I'm in my Lesko Bra. I may hide like a turtle in its shell in a minute, but for right now, right this minute, right when it's all revealed and in its truest state... THIS IS ME.
Ummm... has anyone reading this been counting layers? Or did you count from the beginning? This appears to be number eight. Does it not count as a layer because it's more of a "sprinkle"? Is it a bonus layer -- like a baker's dozen is one more than a dozen? Okay... I can roll with it. It's a seven-plus layer salad. So I guess this is where we go wild... rogue... off-the-chain (no rules, only "opportunities," as The Speed Project taught us to believe) and booty-licious and outrageous and whatever else our cabin-fever has brought about. Here's the layer that's just for you. What is it? Competition briefs? Warrior paint? Naked? I wouldn't deign to offer a suggestion for you on this one: it's all you. Be you. Be free.
Head up. Wings out. (Clothing optional?)