Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Am a Runner: Unabridged

I started running in 2008 a few months after a gluttonous pregnancy and difficult birth of my daughter.  Once I got my groove I was hooked.  I ran a few small distance races and decided to try my legs at a half marathon.  In April of 2009, I pushed my plump body through a cool drizzle ultimately finishing in 2:31.  I experienced so many feelings from the moment I signed up.  Dread, drowning, fear, joy, excitement, anxiety, pride, sadness – the list goes on.  At times during my run I may have even felt all those emotions, but some of those details are a little foggy (perhaps I should re-read that post).  Okay…now I remember…  I absolutely cried when I crossed that finish line.  I cried for so many reasons – I accomplished a major feat of physical and mental grit; I was done; I needed water.  My journey, my half marathon project, had ended, successfully.  It was over.  Everything I did, or didn’t do, everything I ate, or didn’t eat, and every mile I ran, or didn’t run, got me to this proud moment.  I needed to feel it again. 

I am a runner. 

As I have developed my running ‘career’ I continue to push myself.  I consistently shave time off of all my race distances while I change the terrain and the complexity.  Training for a big race gets my ass out of bed at 4:30 am (some days) and focuses my mind.  A good run sets the tone for my day and keeps my head in check.  I have strengthened friendships and picked up new buddies along the way; I lost some weight and gained a hell of a lot of respect for myself.  I fail to find any negative in this situation.  I run to be free.

I am a runner.

The Boston Marathon begun in 1897 and continues to be the 'pinnacle' of races for runners.  Not just anyone can run it...most must qualify.  There's a crazy matrix of sex and age related to times.  There's no wiggle room.   You're in or you're out.  Sure there are charity slots, invitations and the elite group, but for Mr. Joe Blow, there’s the qualification (Boston Qualifier – BQ).  People spend months training to run a marathon to qualify for Boston and then they train to run Boston.  It's really amazing how much these people dedicate their lives to getting to this point.  After running the 2012 Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon relay last year, I chatted with a runner at the finish line.  He, beside himself with devastation, had just missed his BQ by one minute.  ONE MINUTE.  Like I said, no wiggle room. 

People run for so many reasons and all those reasons were taken away yesterday.  A race finish is so exciting…maybe you’ve been there.  All those fans band together to cheer on the finishers.  Pride rocks the crowd and feeds energy to the runners that carry them across the timing mat.  The buzzing of cheers, accented by cowbells and clapping, unifies everyone.  It’s strangely magical. That was taken away.  Lives were lost.  Lives were shattered.  No one feels safe. I don’t know how to help in this situation, but I want to do something.  I do know that I will keep on running.  Maybe I’ll even be so crazy as to try and qualify.  I never wanted to BQ – never had a desire to run Boston.  Strangely, now, more than ever, I’m interested.  Why?

I am a runner.      

Philly Pride