Wearing a double XL running tank that should have been marked L and with an iPod strapped to my arm, I slowly shift shapes as a bland but firm male voice interrupts my music with alternating commands to run and walk. Racing and then creeping through the forest, I am now a deer – slender and swift. I begin to eagerly anticipate the cues for each sprint as jealousies and regrets evaporate with my sweat.
And then the forest becomes field, and my shadow joins the race. I set the pace and manage to stay in front until we round the tree at the bottom of our drive. Suddenly my shadow is beside me – a thin curving line – more of a cantaloupe shape than the hourglass I was just imagining, but still slender.
We make the turn back up the dirt road, racing toward the cover of the trees with the rising sun behind us. I glance at the ground just before the trees swallow my shadow whole, but I have ample time to see that it the slender cantaloupe has morphed into a walrus. On stumps. It is a blob that is a tutu shy of a starring role in Fantasia number. My sprint slows to a walk well before the next command. The trees have fully consumed my shadow when the next sprint begins, and I am no longer fleet, but now I know enough to never look down.