Hello, Salty runners! Greetings from the suburbs of Boston, where I live in Hopkinton, Ma., exactly 2 miles from the starting line of the Boston Marathon.
I know this, not because I measured it with my Jeep’s odometer like I used to measure mileage when I first started to run. Rather, I know because, like everyone who’s been running for a while, I know the length of a mile instinctively. It’s muscle memory, knowledge that resides deep in our pores.
An inner odometer, along with my amazing ability to predict exactly how much my groceries will cost at the cash register, is one of my many unmarketable skills.
My marketable skills include stall mucking (I wanted a horse, but somehow wound up with two donkeys), laundry (I’m a single mom with four kids) and speed-dog-walking (also, a Border collie.) Professionally, I’m a journalist, which in this day and age, translates to unemployed. I eke out a living as a freelance writer and editor, writing regularly for The Boston Globe and whatever magazines I can scam into publishing me. (And my publisher will yell at me if I don’t mention that Breakaway Books just released my first book, Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner.)
As you can infer from the name of the book, I look nothing like my esteemed fellow Salties. Nor can I run like most of you do.
Salty runs a half-marathon in her third trimester? I bow down before her. I struggle to just finish, and my youngest child is 10. Rosemary “plodding” at a 9- or 10-minute mile pace? When I break 10 minutes, I get out the party hats and confetti. Mint covering 43 miles in one week (her down week, no less)? I don’t even DRIVE that far in a week.
Where we are alike, however, is in the desire to be better.
I’ve been running for about 25 years, which means I’ve been on a plateau for about 20 of them. You don’t have to be as old as me, or to have run for as long as I have, to be familiar with that comfortable, safe place… the place where you don’t have to work too hard, or do anything scary, just keep on keepin’ on, at the same old boring pace.
Two years ago, I ran the Kiawah Island Half-Marathon in South Carolina, and finished 70th.
I should clarify. That would be 70th in my age group.
Room for improvement, don’t you agree?
So I’m so glad I found this community of runners who aren’t satisfied with good enough; who believe Faster, Higher, Stronger isn’t a slogan just for Olympians, but for all of us.
On a running blog recently, I read this analogy: Came in Last is better than Did Not Finish, which is better than Did Not Start.
And 70th in one’s age group is better than 700th, which is better than sedentary and inert, which is better than dead and buried.
But I’m neither dead nor sedentary, and I can do better than this. Way better.
Thank you for encouraging me, and for sharing your journey. I can’t wait to share mine with you!