Last week I tweeted “Feeling like a runner”. It sort of struck me as odd, because I have been running for 9 years. 9 years, 2 half marathons, countless long runs, so many blisters, 8 pairs of running shoes, and only now am I starting to feel like a runner. So am I a runner?
My first run was the Turtle Days 5K in my hometown of Churubusco, Indiana back in 2004. I had been doing a Couch to 5K running plan and decided to run the local race.
My brother Ben and friend Sarah also ran it. It felt like such a long ways…I can still remember the hill going up to the water stop at the halfway point. My brother (who was much faster) ran the last part in with me. There were no moisture wicking clothes, fuel, or medals. Just the June sunshine, a small town, and free t-shirts with a turtle on them.
I ran off and on throughout the rest of high school and college mostly doing 5Ks as I felt like it and friends were available. When I moved to Texas I ran in the dark and in the heat. I stopped running because it was so hot, but could never leave it off for very long. In the fall of 2010 I trained for a 10K and that winter I signed up for my first half marathon.
Running that first half was therapy for me. I was going through some things that were completely out of my control—but the runs, the runs I could control. I could push myself to go faster and farther. I could set my mind on how I wanted it to be and could make it happen. I prayed a lot on those runs; I blared my music when I felt angry or sad; I ran until all I could think about was running and that brought me peace, even if just for an hour or two.
That race was tough. My music died, there was a huge hill I hadn’t prepared for, it was long, but I was victorious in the fact that I had done what I had set out to do.
I continued running off and on, for enjoyment and stress relief, especially with my job in social work, I needed my “me time” on my runs to process the tough things I was dealing with everyday.
In 2012 I ran my second half marathon, this time with my sister. While my first marathon was more mentally and physically challenging, I was better prepared the second time around and it was more fun! I loved pushing my sister and her pushing me to cross the finish line together.
And now here I am training for my first full marathon. It’s hard to believe it is actually coming! It’s funny that after all these years and all the things running has meant to me, I’m just now starting to feel like a runner. I’m starting to call it a hobby. I know people exclusively through running. I’m proud to talk about my long runs. When people say “Well you must love running to run so much” I am quick to assure them this is no love affair with running. I put up with running. It gives me stress relief, a fit body, and something to do on Saturday morning. What I love is that feeling of setting my mind to something and doing exactly what I’ve decided to do. There is no feeling quite like it in the world and that is why I am a runner.
Do you consider yourself a runner? Why or why not?