Wednesday, September 2, 2009

At what point did you call yourself a runner?

This question was brought up in our car during the Wasatch Back by Tall Girl. I've been thinking about it lately with the half marathon this last week, and I wonder- can you still be called a runner if you run for fun and not time? It took me a really long time to call myself a runner. Even after completing my first marathon I didn't feel like I could call myself a runner. Not because I didn't love it- because I did. The answer was simple. I didn't feel like I was fast. I know that fast is a relative term and those people that I admire and wish I was like are not fast when compared to the elite runners. But man, I'd love to be as "fast" as them. I did speed work religiously. But I never seemed to really get as fast as I wanted in the time I wanted. It was easy to overlook just how far I had come in that pursuit of some elusive time. And getting pregnant or injured every single year and having to quit running didn't help. It felt like I was starting over after each break. So when did I actually consider myself a runner? I don't know if there was a big moment when it happened. No fireworks in the sky or ribbons pinned to my shirt. Maybe it was when I quit doing so many other things in the cardio arena and ran more than anything else. I'm not sure. But I'm happy to say that I am a runner. I'm still not fast but I'm out there doing it and loving it. I run for fun. I still care about times. I can say that I don't all I want, but deep down I do. It's not because I'm in competition with anyone else. I don't even consider myself to be competitive. It hard for me to run with someone who IS competitive. I don't ever want to hold someone back. And it's not so that I can say that I run a "so many a minute" mile, but it's tangible evidence that all my hard work is indeed working. Will I ever be satisfied with my speed? Probably not. Because no matter where we are, I believe it's inherent that we want to be better. It's what drives us.
So, back to the half. I ran it last year. I ran faster than I had ever run before. It was an amazing race with a finish time of 2:02. I was so shocked and happy. And I felt like I pushed as much as I possibly could. I also ran it injured and really trashed my IT bands. I was out for months after. But that time made it all worthwhile. I knew that I would probably never do a repeat of that time. It was one of those fluke things. So even deciding to run it again this year was hard. I mentally prepared myself to not be disappointed. I knew I was leaving the watch at home and somehow I was going to make this a fun run. Heather and I wore some fun socks and had a great time. We got lots of comments from other runners as well as spectators and it made it fun. We even heard the comment at the finish line from a guy saying that he had seen those socks pass him up in the last miles. My calf hurt almost the whole race, but never really bad. We stopped at each drink station and stretched a few times during the race but tried to keep the pace up. At the end we were really pushing it. Heather knew I was o.k. with whatever time we ended up with, but being the great friend that she is, she pushed us through and our time was 2:00. It was pretty awesome. I honestly couldn't believe the time clock as we passed it and I made her give me a dorky high five across the finish line. Really, really awesome. Now I just have to worry about being faster next year. Ugggg.
So now it's your turn. When did you consider yourself a runner? And talk to me about speed.

(thanks to Mel- our unofficial photographer for hanging out and documenting our totally awesome socks!)
So for this week:
Monday August 24th- 6 miles with hills Calf was good until the very end of the last hill. Wasn't just sore this time. It hurt like an injury. Went in and had it worked on.
Tuesday August 25th- 8 mile bike ride
Wednesday August 26th- 7 miles speed work Calf was sore after the second mile of speed work but didn't really get worse. Stretched really good. Hope it's o.k. for the weekend!
Thursday August 27th- 11 mile bike ride
Saturday August 29th- Top of Utah 1/2 Marathon!


Tall Girl Running said...

I didn't know you were going to run the TOU 1/2! I would've sent you a good luck card or something. Congrats on the AWESOME PR... there's something special about reaching that two hour mark. And the socks are simply rockin'!

I'd forgotten about that conversation we had about when we each considered ourselves to be a runner. I can't even remember if I answered my own question that day, but for me I think it was when I finished my first 5K. Up until then I would say that "I run" but once I got that medal around my neck I graduated to considering myself a runner. I still bristle a little when people call it "jogging". I don't "jog" marathons, even if my pace might be indicative of it. I RUN them, dagnabbit!

I'm a lot like you when it comes to competitive spirit. I see others my age who are just plain better and faster runners and it makes me wish running came more naturally for me too. But I'm too much of a realist to dwell on it long or let it bug me. In the end, if I know I've given it all I've got, I'm content. It's those personal hard-fought victories that motivate me the most. Beating someone else's time will never be as satisfying as beating my own.

Dragonslayer said...

great socks and congrats on the PR.

I am not a runner yet. I'm in my first running season and I've made great strides since I first laced them up back in April. I've lost weight. I feel good. Running is one the best things that has ever happened to me. Still, I'll wait until the season is over, before I can even think about applying the label.

I hope I feel worthy of it.

B.o.B. said...

Great socks and congrats on the PR! Can't wait for the UT race report. BTW - doesn't matter your speed, you my friend are a runner!

Michael said...

Jen, from one runner to another.. congrats on the PB!

Like Tall Girl I bristle when people refer to me as a "jogger" (or when people call 5 or 10 k races "marathons" but that's a whole other story). From my perspective we become runners the moment we register for a race and train for a goal whether it be 5, 10 k, half-mary, full mary or whatever. It's the race component and the training that separates the jogger from the runner. The blood, sweat, and tears so to speak. You also mentioned the elusive PB as a driving force. I've never met a runner who is completely satisfied with their time (me for instance!). This too defines us as runners. The need to do better, run faster, run longer, run stronger. The need to run as opposed to the jogger who shuffles about goalless.

Good post Jen.


PS, Dragonslayer, you are worthy! Go run.

anna jo said...

I like to think that I became a runner back when I first trained for and ran my first marathon. up until that point I had never ran just to run. {well, I had and was enjoying it more and more over the years, but I didn't do it regularly} I had always been athletic and active, but running was a means to an end -- chasing after a ball, chasing down a person. I remember in college at soccer practice once, our coach had us run three miles and I thought she was crazy! lol

after that first marathon, though, I was hooked. I had passion for it. I was a runner. I don't like the terms "jogger" or "jogging" either, maybe it just conjures up an image of out of shape, old people in tacky jogging suits. I don't know. but I do think that no matter your speed, your attitude is what qualifies you as a runner.

if you're out there every day, rain or shine always trying to improve yourself, then my friend, you are a runner. and it's a beautiful thing.