Saturday, April 20, 2013

I am a runner... (?)

Over the past couple of years, I have started collecting all sorts of running clothes, shoes, water bottles, compression socks, racing bibs, and sports tape... more than I ever thought I would.  In my closet, I currently have two pairs of running shoes, a pair of cross training shoes, and a pair of trail runner hiking shoes.  Two or three years ago, there would have been maybe one pair of athletic shoes in there, maybe.

If someone asks, or it came up in conversation, I would say that "I run" (which used to be "Ha! I try to run" or "I jog slowly").  However, I never considered myself a "runner."  

True, I go to the gym 5 days a week.  I run 2-3 days a week, depending on the week, my schedule, how I'm feeling, etc.  But I never run that far (the farthest length I have run since our Half Marathon is 6 miles, and typically run 2-3). I also have 6 racing bibs from the past year and a half, and by the end of January, I'll have 8-10.  I'm not sure exactly what in my mind would define being a runner.  Perhaps it's because I've never run a marathon? Or maybe because I don't compete for time, but rather just run to run and finish the distance?

And then, on April 15th, the Boston Marathon bombing attack occurred.  One of my first thoughts was, do you know how hard those people work to get to that race?? The night before, I had just been reading an article in Runner's World magazine, with a big story on the Boston Marathon.  Just to qualify to compete in this marathon, you have to have the following times:

To put this in perspective, in November, I ran my HALF in 2.5 hours.  They are running double the distance.  These people are runners.  

When I was at the gym that night, all I could think about was the people who qualified for the race, maybe for the first time, and then couldn't finish.  Or the people who finished, and lost a limb, and may never race again.  Or the people who were there, and may be fearful to ever cross the finish line again, afraid of what may happen.  All I wanted to do at this point was go out and run.  I wanted to go and run for those people who would never race again.  I wanted to train for a full 26.2 marathon, because these people are inspirations for me to keep going.  

The next morning, I received an email about a new blog post on the "No Meat Athlete" website.  Matt is a vegan marathon runner training for his first ultra.  He wrote this amazing post on what it means to be a runner (his blog post can be found here).  This man had run 6 marathons and still didn't consider himself a runner until he felt the emotions as a runner, watching what happened to the Boston Marathon.  Suddenly, I realized that he took the words right out of my mouth! 

For the first time, I started thinking of myself as a runner.  

Running is hard, and can be grueling on your body, and exhausting, but I NEVER regret doing it. I feel exhilarated and energetic, and proud of what I completed.  It's emotional.  It's a stress reliever and incredibly therapeutic.  Only another runner can truly understand it.  It's become a part of who I am, and I am proud to be apart of the community.

And now, because this makes me laugh, I leave you with this:

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