I was talking to someone at work today about exercise and trying to stay fit and the conversation turned to running and they said "oh, well...you're a runner". To which I instantly said "oh, no... I'm not". To me a runner is that gazelle-like creature that floats effortlessly by me on Lawrence Avenue while I plod up the hill. I'm the tortoise that doesn't ever really catch the hare.
Yet, as I rounded kilometre five on my run tonight, I started thinking about the conversation. At the end of May, I'll be doing my 10th half marathon. The first couple I walked, then I did walk/run..and then mostly run/walk. I do my races so that I will train - without a goal, the couch will win everytime. I can find a million excuses as to why I can't or won't or shouldn't go. It's the thought of running 21km without any training that gets me out the door.
I read a headline on the Toronto Women's Half Marathon Facebook page (my next race) that said "How to get that elusive runner's high". I didn't bother reading it. I don't get runner's high. The best I can hope for is feeling moderately good in the middle of a run. There is no doubt I feel better afterwards - it's the before and first 5 minutes that I don't love. The after is always good.
When I was younger, I ran in my public school's Kilometre Club, which was essentially a bunch of kids running around the school yard before school started. We got popsicle sticks every 500 metres that we redeemed to count our mileage every day. I ran my heart out every morning and amassed (what I remember to be anyway) hundreds of kilometres. I think it was there that I began my journey with running.
I've run in Quebec, Namibia, Kingston, London, Toronto, England, Florida and many more places. The great thing about running is that you can take your shoes anywhere. I've run when I'm mad (makes for a fast run), sad, happy and bored. I've run in rain, snow, sun, sleet, hail and wind (and in one special run this spring - all of the above).
So maybe I'm not the fastest, the most elegant or certainly not the most fashionable runner. My face goes flaming tomato red and after really hard runs I get a layer of salt on my face (attractive, I know). My knees hurt and if my shadow hits the right exact angle I can sometime see my cellulite jiggling. Oh yeah, baby.
But I get it done. I huff and puff up the hill on Blythwood Ave all the while doing finger dancing along to the music coming through my iPhone. I convince myself not to take shortcuts (keep going keep going keep going) and play concentration games to make the time go faster (run to the mailbox, then to the green car...keep going past the red bush). Sometimes I feel fast, and other days I feel really really slow. But at the end of the day, most days anyway, I get the run done. And I guess all of that makes me...a runner.