For those of you who have never run for 1 hour and 43 solid minutes, let me tell you that once you cross the finish line and you’re finally allowed to stop running, not much is going through your head besides sweet, sweet relief and an immense amount of pride. Certainly, there are people who are capable of running for hours and then going about their normal business as if nothing ever happened — I’ve read reports of multiple doctors who finished running the Boston Marathon around the time of the explosion and then ran back into the disaster area to start treating victims — but I am not one of them. In fact, back at work on Monday, my head and muscles were still in a fog; I felt like I was half-asleep.
So forgive me for the delayed response, but I finally got there, nonetheless.
I’m not positive when the “ah-ha!” moment occurred: maybe it was while watching footage of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday with stinging eyes and one of my first thoughts was, “Why do this to runners? What did we ever do to anyone?” Maybe it was when I mentioned to a co-worker that I went for a four-miler on Thursday and he said with a hint of disgust, “Really? You went running? Most people finish a race and then stop for a while.” Maybe it was mid-week, when a friend mentioned inviting me up to watch the Fargo Marathon and I thought, “Yeah, I should visit–she could watch and I could run the half-marathon.” Maybe it was this morning, when a guy I haven’t seen in a couple months asked me what I’ve been doing to lose weight and though I haven’t lost a pound in years, I instinctively responded, “I’ve been running.”
Maybe it was a combination of all those things. Regardless, for the first time since I started this journey five years ago, I finally feel like a runner.
Up until this week, even though I’ve logged more than 1,500 miles in the past three years alone, I never really felt like part of the “running crowd.” I’m not fast enough or I can’t run far enough or I don’t have expensive enough shoes or I just run for fun, not for competition--these were all things I thought kept me out the not-so-exclusive group. There might be some truth to them: there are definitely people who can run a certain distance in a certain time but really aren’t runners. And I’m still not exactly sure what qualifies one as “runner” — is it regularity of your runs? Is it the feeling you get while running? Is it how many others you’ve encouraged to join you? Is it the number of races you’ve completed? Is it the constant drive to improve your time or distance? I don’t know, but I do know that I have it, whatever “it” is. Which, for a girl who was never part of any team and struggles daily to define her place in the universe, is a wonderful feeling.