Posted on | January 16, 2013 | 14 Comments
Like a lot of women, I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m not nearly good enough at nearly enough things: I’m not as thin as I was in high school; I don’t mother the way I think I ought to every time I read about someone else’s mothering style; I don’t eat healthy enough; I am not as well-dressed, well-coiffed, or well-made up as this that or the other person. But on Sunday of this week, I was just perfectly perfect. Just as I am.
Let’s rewind just a bit, shall we?
If you’ve been reading, you may remember that I decided to pick up running again after my boss bought us all a gym membership. At first, it was a struggle… I hated going in there with the petite “run girls” and feeling out of place and huge. I was embarrassed by my work out clothes, embarrassed by my weight, embarrassed by what I imagined each foot step must sound like to the people around me. I imagined that every whisper was about me, every joke made was at my expense. But I went. I went religiously, sweating out my frustrations with work and single parenting and bank accounts and dating and everything else under the sun. I walked a lot. I jogged a lot. I refused to call myself a runner.
Then my friend convinced me to sign up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February of this year. I did it, but deep down the fear of failure was growing like a cancer in the pit of my soul. 13.1 miles is a really long way and I’m that girl in high school with the “asthma excuse.” I’m not a runner, I told myself, time and time again. To the people who said “Oh! A half-marathon? I could never do that!” I quickly responded “sure you could… if I can do it, anyone can because I’m not a runner.” To the people who tried to encourage me, I deflected, telling them that it was likely I’d die because, I reminded them, I’m not a runner.
I spent the better part of three months convincing everyone, including myself, that I am not a runner.
Because runners are thin. Runners are petite and tiny and they sweat pretty. Runners have matching outfits and cute shoes and perfect pony tails. Runners are coordinated and competent. Runners are people who ran in high school… people who still look like they could BE in high school, with their perfect figures and prancy steps.
I am none of those things.
But on Sunday morning, I got up with three of my (now) sisters, and drove down to Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia, at 5:30 in the morning. I pinned a brown race bib on my tank top, a tank top I wouldn’t have worn in public three months ago, and I stood behind a rope until a man on a platform pulled the trigger on an overly loud bull horn.
And then I ran.
I ran 9.3 miles, up and down hills through the city of Atlanta.
Nine. Point. Three. Miles.
And when I finished, with a big smile on my face, there were only two things I could think of: (1) that high school me could have never done what I just did…. and (2)?
I AM a runner.
No matter what else, no matter who laughs, no matter who questions it… because deep down, all that really matters is how we see ourselves. And as I run through the next five weeks, finishing up my training, I’m going to do it with my head held high. Because I am 100% sure that no matter what else happens, I will finish that race. I will smile for pictures.
And I will keep right on running, long after the half-marathon is over.
Because that’s what we runners do.