I am a runner. That has been my athletic identity since high school. Running didn’t require any flying objects, no deep water, nothing complicated. It just required a decent pair of running shoes and a place to run. I have never been a fast runner. In high school I was generally last. I placed once in three years of high school track (we didn’t have most sports my senior year of high school due to a failed millage). I continued running for a while in college but I didn’t have a goal or purpose so I gave it up. I returned to running when I met Sam in 2010. I recall telling him that I wanted to run again. I recall thinking he was looking at me like I was crazy but he didn’t say that. I have written about starting running already so I won’t repeat my first attempts. I’m back to that place again though. I have finished a number of races since 2011 and I have even earned a couple of awards, not just finishers medals.
Running is not easy. It wears on my knees and my ankles. I have had running injuries throughout my life but I always come back. Running, no matter how slow, is one of my happy places to be. I have heard a lot of condescending remarks about my running, especially over the past five years. People seem to think I should feel awful and like a total failure because I am slow and because I am generally last or near last. I don’t though, for the most part. Running has given me gifts. It makes me feel good. It has provided an opportunity to hang out with family members and friends. It has allowed me to meet some really great people and run in the streets of some very cool cities.
Augusta 70.3 in 2014 was the race that almost ended my running. I made it 9.1 miles in the run at Augusta. I was so very close to finally crossing the line but I knew that my body was not going to make it across the finish line. My ankles just were not going to last on that day. For a few weeks I tried to act like it did not defeat me. But it did. I had trained but my training got interrupted by family issues so I had several weeks of almost no training at all. It was too much and it cost me the race, the finish line that I had worked for over the previous two to three years. Since September 2014, I have not wanted to run. I tried to begin again a few times. I talked about running. I looked at races and I was registered for a few triathlons that I did not do. I made a few attempts on the treadmill, thinking I would build up to where I had been. But it didn’t last .
Three weeks ago I began Iron Tribe 101. Most of the workouts include a run. I wasn’t happy about that at first. None have been long – 100-400 so far. I’m always last. I’m slow. I’ve had some pitiful looks thrown my way and some “you can do it” remarks thrown my way. What no one (except maybe Sam) knows is that I don’t feel all that pitiful as the last one. Yes, I’m slow. I’ve always been slow. I will probably continue to be slow by everyone else’s standards. But I am running again and not stopping. There will be days when I hate running even 200. But there will also be days like today when I felt a personal accomplishment from running again.
Don’t count me out just because I am slow, just because I am last. I began again. I will keep running, one foot in front of the other. Last doesn’t bother me for the most part. I grew up being told that someone has to be last so it might as well be me. I never quite understood the point of the remark, but somehow it helps me when I am out running. I’m not sure where my running will take me this time but I am looking forward to finding out.