When I graduated high school I took a conditioning class at a community college and developed a serious passion for pushing and challenging myself.
I became something I NEVER would have dreamt.
I became a runner.
Not a fast runner, not even really a good runner, but a runner nonetheless.
I lost 50 pounds with out really trying and I became obsessed with my 6 day a week workout routine. For the first time in my life I was a morning person. Very quickly into this transformation I set my eyes on something that, according to statistic brain, would make me part of 0.5 precent of the US population.
Now you have to understand the only sports I played involved minimal running. Softball was my main sport from middle school through high school. I never learned to slide into base, I always thought ‘please let me hit the ball’ when it was my turn, and when I was in the field I always wished the ball to be aimed somewhere else. I swam and played tennis too but was never great.
I was driven by this seemingly impossible goal despite my own belief I couldn’t do it. Actually the need to prove myself and others wrong pushed me even harder.
Even during my training and even after finishing the marathon I corrected everyone who called me a runner.
‘No I am not a runner – I just run’
What is it about this term that this idea exists that there is a threshold either of speed, accomplishment, or enjoyment that needs to be met before you are in fact ‘a runner’?
Crossing the finish line at the Twin Citied Medtronic marathon I knew I accomplished something crazy – I don’t care that it took me the whole allotted time. I was proud and accomplished and I was going to complete 50 marathons by 50 years of age in all 50 states … Except maybe Alaska. Maybe even the iron man in Hawaii.
I signed up for two more marathons immediately – I was hooked after all.
I started to notice a funny thing though – that 99.5% of the population I left behind started discrediting me. I couldn’t be a runner because I walked part of the marathon, my finish didn’t really count because I used the entire allotted time, and let’s be honest, I didn’t look like a runner either.
Standing at the starting line for Grandma’s in Duluth felt different. I wasn’t filled with excitement and adrenaline – I was filled with doubt and uncertainty. I clearly wasn’t a competent runner and my breakfast pre-race of an orange juice and a doughnut surly proved that fact.
I hadn’t trained as well and was dealing with knee pain and plantar fasciitis. So my preserved lack of competency was reinforced when I was in significant pain by mile 5.
I finished the marathon. I crossed the finish line. But I quit running. Without buy in, that prove you wrong motivation wears thin.
Until I started writing I had annex on telling you what a great thing my marathon experiences were. But I started pondering why it has been almost 5 years since I ran and why I planned on never doing another distance event.
Here is what I learned:
– That marathon showed how strong my mind is, my body hurt and told my brain that it was too hard but I kept moving.
– Grandma’s showed me I am a social runner. While I normally am an introvert, the lack of spectators in Duluth really made the marathon a mental battle
– It’s mind blowing what you can accomplish one foot in front of the other.
– I am, in fact, a runner.
– There will always be someone to bring you down, but you have the choice to let them in your head.
So this morning I firmly believed I would never do another marathon – this afternoon I will be searching for my running shoes, lacing them up this weekend, and taking that first step.