My former college roommate commented that I’m definitely a runner since I refer to my distances in the hundredth of a mile… as in “12.92” versus what most of the population would refer to as “13.”
Truth is, I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, which is a bit strange, since I’ve been running on and off for the last 8-9 years. Seven years ago, I ran my first 10k. Two years ago, I ran a 10 mile race. Last year, I ran two half marathons with one month in between them. Yet, in spite of all of that, I still think of myself on the outside of the running population – an interloper – not actually a spectator – but more of a “don’t mind me, I’m just passing through” presence.
Is it because I’m not fast? Is it because I am only dedicated when I have a race distance that scares me? I tell myself that I’ve been coerced into the races, and that I can (and do) blame my running buds for getting me to register. Is it because they were a pair, and then they invited me in, and I always run behind? (They’re faster.)
I’m not sure why I haven’t given myself the credit that I apply to every other runner I see on the road… but today, I realized I *am* definitely “a runner.”
This is how I know:
1. I was up before the sun so that I could start the barn chores and still drive to Janet’s house by 6:30 a.m.
2. I put on shorts and a t-shirt even though it was only 48 degrees outside.
3. I rubbed silicone stick all over my skin in any place that I thought might rub against fabric.
4. I drank pickle juice to keep the cramps away. (I’ll come back to this one.)
5. I took 2 pit stops in the woods (this is Janet’s fault.)
6. I ran 16 miles.
7. I got back to my house, filled the tub with cold water, poured in three bowls of ice, and then SAT in it.
(I’ve just paused, thinking, “I only have 7 items – 10 would make a more legit list.” But then I just re-read my list of only 7 and I think those are enough highlights to prove the point. 😉 )
I’ve heard that runners, whether they know it or not, are part of what’s sometimes called “a closed community” – meaning that they bond strongly to one another through the shared experience of endurance and sacrifice, and are sometimes not in touch with how their extremism affects or impacts others. I disagree. I don’t think it’s a “closed community.” I think it’s Crazy Land. And I’ve just moved in.
Crazy Land is not a closed community at all – it’s wide open -everyone is invited, especially runners. And, what I realize now, is that anyone who puts on sneaks, puts one foot in front of the other, over and over again, despite the body’s readiness to stop, IS a runner, including me. The distance doesn’t matter. The pace doesn’t either. Stepping to the challenge makes a runner. And, the challenge is *always* self imposed. Sure, I freely point the finger at Janet and Margaret, but the truth is that I’ve always had the power to say “no”, but I never have. Even this morning, Janet was planning on running 17 miles. My training plan suggested 14. We agreed that I would shoot for 15 and Janet would keep going to get her 17. But then, when we got to the 7.5 mile turnaround, Janet said, “Let’s go for a full 8 before we turn back – can you do 16?” and I said, “Ok.”
I’m pretty sure that’s proof that I’m a runner and that I did it to myself. Janet just suggested the distance. I actually made myself do it. I am a runner.
NOTE RE CRAMPS: My 2 previous distance runs were really wrought with gut splitting cramps. More than one person suggested drinking pickle juice, which sounded a bit out of bounds, even for Crazy Land, but I Googled it and it does seem popular. This morning, I poured about 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice from the pickle jar into my 6 oz water container. I have to say, I only drank a portion of that concoction and I just couldn’t do more. At one of our water stops (shout out to Janet’s husband, Michael Griffin, for stashing water along the route for us), I poured out what I had and refilled with just plain water. Then I burped and sweated pickle juice for about the next 5 miles. Just not my thing.
BUT – this was a CRAMP FREE RUN. Maybe it *was* pickle juice, maybe it’s because I started taking probiotics, maybe it’s because my body has finally calmed down, OR, maybe it’s because I shared 16 miles with my friend, Janet, and in spirit with my friend, Margaret.
NOTE RE TEAMMATES: Janet is in fine form. She’s ahead of me in mileage and polished off 17+ miles this morning after a particularly grueling, sleep deprived week of work related stresses. Margaret is recovering from emergency surgery. She will be fine, but she needs some recovery time. Of course, some people in her situation might just bail on the marathon, but I’m pretty sure Margaret will be back to her training without a doctor’s note. Inspirational teammates for sure!