What does it mean to be a runner? To me, it means intentionally running. I don’t care if it’s 10 steps or 100 miles. There are all kinds of special names you get to call yourself aside from “runner” as you go faster and longer – sprinter, marathoner, ultra-marathoner, so there is no need run a certain distance in order to be considered a runner. So if you want to be a runner, be. Get outside and put one foot in front of the other. Move forward. Move forward a little faster and now you’re a runner. Congratulations.
I’ve been a runner since my freshman year in high school. I grudgingly agreed to run track. I had fun. I was never good at it, I was never fast. I’m still not. But it did start a pretty healthy habit that I’ve stuck with, albeit on and off, for years. I refuse to admit how many. I formed some of my most cherished friendships and wonderful memories on those runs. And to this day, I still hear my coach in my head. Sometimes so loudly that I jump. I’ve always run a few miles, a few times a week. In 2009 I ran my first half-marathon and have been building since then. I thought all marathoners were crazy. Why would anyone want to do that? So imagine my surprise when I realized that I’m just days away from my first marathon.
At some point, and I honestly don’t remember when, I decided that I would run a marathon. Yup, all 26.2 miles of it. I’m pretty sure I was drunk when I agreed to this. And I say “agreed to” but there exists a very real possibility that this was my idea… I THINK it went something along these lines…
My running partner and I had just finished two half marathons within two weeks of each other in 2010. The first,
The Walt Disney World Wine and Dine was a complete disaster. This was my second half, I had completed one about a year earlier. Attending only because a friend was on the race committee and it supported a great cause, our county’s Healthy Start Coalition. I did not train at all and walked a good portion of that race. But I TRAINED for the Disney Half. and it was at night, so that had to be easier right? WRONG! I am not a night runner. I fit perfectly and annoyingly into the definition of “morning person.” What was I thinking? Who the hell knows. So needless to say, a race starting at 10pm and finishing just minutes before 1am was not a good experience for me. (That’s me on the left in the picture with my running partner, about an hour and half before the Disney race.)
But then for the second year in a row, I ran the Healthy Start Coalition Half Marathon. In the morning, beautiful weather, my hometown, flat and fast race course that I was familiar with. It was fantastic. Every time I looked at my watch, I was ahead of my goal pace and feeling better and better. I set a new PR (personal record, for any non-runners out there) by almost 30 minutes. I was elated after that run. And then we started getting emails from Disney (remember the Wine and Dine Half was only two weeks earlier)… “You finished the half! You’re half way to a full marathon, sign up for the full marathon now!” They’re very peppy these little Disney marketing emails so, well, we considered it. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I was scheduled for foot surgery that November, making my decision for me.
But then we started talking about it more. Maybe we should do it in 2012. We all planned on running the Healthy Start Half Marathon again in October of 2011, which would put us right on track for a full in January. Besides, it falls on my BIRTHDAY, how cool is that. (If you’re actually contemplating that question, the answer is ‘not very.’) But it all seemed like such a good idea at some point (again, probably drunk) that we totally pumped ourselves up for it. We had picked up a new running partner along the way and suckered her in too. So now there were three of us. We were so excited, we signed up within days of registration opening. We were unstoppable. It was going to be EPIC!
Flash forward approximately one year….
Uh huh. Yeah, training for a marathon is fun. IF you love running, hate drinking and the idea of being sore for days after a workout sounds like a great accomplishment to you. I don’t love running. Well, I did, I think at some point. No, I really didn’t. I do it because it’s the workout that I hate the least. I love the way it makes my butt look. I love being outside. I prefer running by the beach to being in some cardio-sculpt class with a bunch of sweaty strangers. I do however love drinking (if you’ve read any other posts, you may have picked up on that…) and going out for drinks on Friday night and then running for four hours on Saturday morning makes for a rather tough start to the weekend. I guess I’ll give in to the last one, I do feel a sense of accomplishment when I’m a little sore from a workout. So marathon training for me is fun about 33% of the time. Uh. Not a great percentage.
But I will say this. Marathon training changes you. I’ve quit a lot of things in my life. I don’t like to call it quit, but really there are just a lot of thing that I started and never finished. I’ve always been pretty ok with that. Because I like to think of it as changing my mind rather than quitting (more on this topic in another blog…) My point is I refuse to quit this. I don’t know why. A few months back I was texting with a friend who asked me how my 14 mile run went that morning. At that point, 14 was the furthest I’d ever run IN MY LIFE. I told him. I told him the truth. IT SUCKED. It was a super hot, muggy Florida morning. I ran out of water around mile 8. I died a little out there that morning and at several points I wanted to quit or cry or both. I told him all of this and he responded with simply “Don’t Quit.” Well, truth be told I had no intention of quitting. I had already passed that point and I don’t know when or why, but it was too late for me. I was doing this thing. Short of a broken bone (which I’m kinda still kind of hoping for) I’m going to finish this marathon. It’s not going to be pretty. I haven’t been training enough over the past month. I haven’t tapered appropriately. I started training too early and got burnt out. But I refuse to quit. My only goal is to finish. And I will. Run, walk or crawl I will cross that finish line. And then maybe I can say I’m a marathoner. Maybe. One thing I definitely am: Crazy. Like I said, all marathoners are.
T-3 days to my first 26.2. Wish me luck.