“So, tell me, who are you as a runner?”
Runner, coach, and author of Run Tall, Run Easy, Gerard D. Pearlberg asked me this question while we were chatting over some java last week. I stumbled for an answer as Georgie was squirming on my lap, eager to explore. I gave him an answer that I was unsatisfied with, so I committed to writing an in-depth answer as a blog post. When I couldn’t decide how to begin, I scrolled through my pictures for inspiration. What you see below is an organic stream of consciousness that flowed from my memories onto the keyboard, without edit. It’s certainly NOT my best writing- it’s quite atrocious, actually- but it IS an accurate portrayal of who I am as a runner. Enjoy!
I’m the kind of runner who loves to talk about running, who enjoys subtly dressing up for certain races. I love to talk about running shoes. I love to buy running shoes. I love returning running shoes when they don’t work for me. I’m the kind of runner who likes to talk about races. I like that I’ve checked off a few bucket list races. I don’t love that my bucket list keeps growing. I’m the kind of runner who will PROBABLY never qualify for Boston. I’m the kind of runner who decides on a Tuesday night after PLYOGA that she’s game to run a half marathon the following weekend. I’m the kind of runner who used to log enough miles to be able to do that without a problem! I’m the kind of runner reads Runner’s World cover to cover the day it comes. I’m the kind of runner who needs a bagel and coffee (or beer) after a long run. I’m the kind of runner who needs to poop before she runs. I’m the kind of runner who runs throughout most of her pregnancy and starts again only a few weeks after giving birth. I’m the kind of runner who will stop to take pictures of cool stuff along the way. I like running through the woods, up hills, and around cities. I like to look at my surroundings when I run. I like running in my neighborhood where I will see a dozen people I know pass by logging their own miles. I like running in places I know I won’t see a soul. I like to run fast. I like to run slowly. Apparently, I like to run through the mud. And away from zombies. And while pulling trucks behind me. I like to run for good causes. I like to run with a team. I like to run to remember people, to remember fallen heroes. I like running to inspire others to keep- or start- moving. I like to run with friends. I like to run with kids. I like to run with my husband (despite him not always wanting to run with me). I like to run in the cold. I like to run in the heat. I don’t mind running in the rain, but I do NOT like running in the wind. I like traveling to run and running where I travel. I LOVE running in Disney World. I like running on holidays. I like running in the morning and at night. I like running races and crossing the same finish line as elite athletes, like Meb and Shalane and 94-year-olds, like Harriette Thompson (RIP) alike. I like running before weddings and parades. I like gathering people to run before parades. I like running to breweries. I like running places I’ve never run before. I like running with people who can tell a good story. I like running with music, though I like running without music more. I really, REALLY like coaching running of any kind, whether it’s the 20M dash of beach flags, navigating a graveyard on a middle school cross country course, training a group of kids for a local 5K, or helping a friend redeem herself and finish a marathon without #cryinginaportapottie. I love to coach running…and I think I’m pretty good at it.
I’m sure when he first asked the question, GP was looking for something more along the lines of “I’m a 1:52 half marathoner and I can rock out a 24 minute 5K right now if you want me to,” but, especially after having a baby and having my schedule knocked upside-down, I find numbers to be deceiving. My “training” is no longer consistent …and maybe I never really trained to reach my full potential as a runner to begin with. My high school track coaches love telling the story of the <insert expletive> Memorial Race circa 1997, when I finished a middle distance race able to laugh and yell at them for torturing me. I bring this up, because never, in my life, have I completed a race with an empty tank (unless you count that time I emptied the contents of my stomach inches shy of the finish line at the Belmar 5 a few years back). In other words, I have never run as fast as I could. Therefore, I don’t actually know how fast I CAN run. When I revealed this truth to GP, he suggested perhaps I have a fear of success- that being successful would be too much pressure to keep achieving. Maybe he’s right. But that only depends on how you measure success…