I’ve often thought about at what point I became a runner. Fellow runners might say that it was as soon as I started running. That may be true, but I don’t think that is when I knew I was a runner.
I started running
for real with intent about a year ago. I didn’t know then that I was a runner. I ran three times per week with my Team. I didn’t know I was a runner. I did 1/2 mile repeats, but I didn’t think I was a runner. I ran 1 mile repeats. Still not sure I was a runner. I did hill sprints and long runs and it didn’t occur to me that I was a runner. I ran. Those to me were not the same thing.
I got a monster case of shin splints (these are my vice), and I thought, “Okay maybe I’m a runner, runners get these.” And then I had to stop running, so I most certainly couldn’t be a runner. I went an entire season coming in last, moving slow, recovering slower. Actually, I grew to really embrace this. I knew I would never be a runner if I didn’t struggle through this part. After all, my body was not used to the schedule, the hours, the pounding. I knew though, that as long as I didn’t give up, there would come a point when it felt less like “work”. But it was hard. There were days when I cursed my shoes. And my calves. And my lungs. And my back, and my hand that went numb after an 8 mile run. I bought my foam roller shortly after I finished a round of physical therapy. I was buying runner-like things. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, right? Sometimes you just have to call a duck a duck. But I wasn’t yet willing to call myself a
I lined up in my coral for my first half-marathon on October 20, 2013. It was dark, cold, crazy early (all of the things runners embrace about mornings). My head was ready, my body was as ready as it was going to get. And I ran. At this particular race, I ran for those who can’t. Those who will and those who won’t. I ran for those effected by blood cancer. And I ran hard. Perhaps a bit too hard because when I hit the Presidio hills I thought my legs were going to quite literally detach themselves and walk back down the other way. I most certainly am not a runner.
A funny thing happened between mile 10 and mile 12. As I was running through Golden Gate Park, I thought it was over. I must, somehow get to the finish line. The only way to be finished is to get myself to that finish line. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that at any time I could have walked off that course. I could have exited out (left, right, sat down, etc). But the thought of exiting out never, once crossed my mind. The only way this race was going to end was if I finished. And it was at that moment that I realized, that I was, in fact a runner. A runner doesn’t take the easy way out. A runner sees the finish line no matter how difficult the course. A runner goes the mile (or dozens of them) to claim that finish as their own. A runner feels the pain, heals the pain and keeps on working. And the really funny part is that I had been doing that for months. I knew I was a runner when “FINISH” was the only conceivable way. And now I know I am, and have been, a runner all along.
Tell me, when did you realize that you were a runner?