There’s no certification to indicate that someone is qualified to be a runner. Despite the cult jokes, there’s no membership card or secret handshake or special t-shirt you get. Anyone who runs is a runner. Since there is no menbership, there’s no speed minimum, not really, nor is there a minimum time or distance you have to run in a week or month to keep the right to call yourself a runner.
I say all that knowing full well that until this week, I was hesitant to say “I AM a runner” and put myself in a category with elite athletes and amazing, inspiring people. I’m just a chick who “jogs” 3-4 times a week at a rather slow pace. My dad can walk faster than I run. I didn’t quite get it, didn’t quite feel like a runner.
But two things happened this week. The first was on Sunday at about 9am. We rose and met our running group. It was a wet and windy morning, and I did my first 10km run. Again, not very fast, but time does go quickly when you have good company (which I did!). But the 8km mark took us past a lake and the wind reached across the lake and smacked us upside the head. We soldiered on. And we made it back upright and smiling. But from wet socks and siggy sneakers I got the worst blister I’ve ever had, on the arch of my foot. Can you say ‘Awkward’? I did along with other choice words.
But that, knock on wood, is my first major running affliction. And I ran through it, and survived it, and treated it, and ran again 6km the next day. And I thought, “Now I get it.”
The second thing happened tonight. As I’ve learned recently, hill repeats are a tried-and-true way to improve your performance. You run it the way a chld runs toward an ice cream cart - as fast as you can and not stopping until you reach the target (in this case the target is the top). Unlike the kid running for ice cream, the sweet reward is not when when you stop. It comes days or weeks later, when the training pays off. And before that, hills are not fun.
And tonight, I got it. I was being pushed, literally (nudged by coach John) and though I thought my legs were about ready to give up on the fifth go, I kept givin’ ‘er. I was thinking about crying. Instead I kept running. And made it without collapsing or crying.
I’m proud. And I do believe all I said first off in this post. Anyone can be a runner. It’s not a club. But being something and feeling like you are can be two different things. I’m glad I’m now both. :)