This post is for you – and you already know who you are. You’re the one reading this hoping to learn more about us “real runners.” You might even be hoping to be one of us … someday.
I’ve met a lot of you already, some of you at pace team booths, some of you at parties, some of you when I used to work at the law firm. I meet you on airplanes, at the gym, at church. Honestly, it’s kind of like “The Sixth Sense.” I find you everywhere.
But you’re embarrassed to talk about running with me, or it’s actually a mutual friend who tells me that you run, much to your chagrin. And why?
Because you only run 5K’s.
Because you did a marathon once, but not nearly as many as I’ve done.
And worst of all – the cardinal sin – because you’re “slow.”
I’m fed up with it.
Yes, I’ve run an obscene number of marathons. And yes, I’ve run some of them pretty fast. And yes, I run unfathomable distances. You’re right. I have and I did and I do.
When I started running, I could only run a single mile without choking on air. During my first marathon, I stopped at mile 23, hugged a tree, and cried. And even today, I show up for runs with the fast people and I’m terrified.
And I feel like I’m not fast enough, not good enough to run with them. Like I don’t belong there.
If you’ve found yourself here, you’re probably familiar with Salty Running’s first “great debate” – the square-off between Ginger and Salty on what constitutes “running” a marathon. Guess what? We’re not going back there. But I do have a few things to say, and I shall say them now.
When we use pejorative words – I “only” do this; I do this “but” I haven’t done it a lot; or I do this really awesome thing really “slow” – we immediately make our effort “less than” someone else’s. So in spite of our challenges, our lifestyles, our own mental and emotional demons – all of those we have overcome to get “here” – we still hang on to this feeling that we still aren’t good enough or that we don’t belong.
I want you to imagine, for a moment, how ludicrous it would sound if someone were to say to me “Well, I’m not a real runner like you. I only do marathons.”
Or what about this? “I just finished chemo three months ago, but I managed to run-walk Race for the Cure.”
These are real live statements. This is what we do to ourselves.
Yep. I run fast(ish) marathons and close to 100 miles a week and place in 100 milers.
But I’m not as fast as Krissy Moehl. Or Nikki Kimball. Or Ellie Greenwood.
And the times I placed it was only because the faster runners had to drop.
Doesn’t that sound awful?
I run fast(ish) marathons and close to 100 miles a week and place in 100 milers. But you know what two of my favorite races were? 45 and 50 minute 5K’s. One was with my friend Amy, who, like Salty’s friend Tim, had recently quit smoking. Three months later, we lined up for the Jingle Bell 5K together. Amy cried at the finish. I would have too.
The other was with my mom. My very overweight mother who had lost almost 100 pounds, and after years of traveling to marathons with me decided she would run-walk the companion 5K at the Mardi Gras Marathon. I was so proud of her that I switched from the full marathon to the half marathon so I could do the 5K with her, then pick up the half marathon course at the start/finish line of the figure-8 course.
I’ve never fought the weight battle. Sure, I dropped some lb’s (and my boobs) when I started running. But that was just a bonus.
I don’t know what it’s like to balance training with a family. Hubby and I don’t have to work around school and day care and quality time with the kids. And he runs too, so if we feel like we’ve been disconnecting, we just schedule our runs at the same time, even if we run separately.
I haven’t experienced major illness. I don’t know what it’s like to fight through three miles during chemotherapy, or how to make my body work again after cancer. I pray I never have to learn these things, but other women do it every single day.
Work, family, illness, weight, depression, fear of failure. Divorce, miscarriage, parental death. Women are out there fighting these demons every single day.
And I dare any of them to say “but,” “only,” or “slow.”
Webster’s defines the verb “race” as follows: “to go, move or function at top speed.” You will note there is no mention of pace; of running or walking or combining the two; or even of specified distance. It is merely “to go, move or function at top speed.” It is a moving target.
So keep moving, move proudly, and most importantly, own it.
Have you ever tried to “race” while hanging your head?
It’s not easy, is it?