This week I have been asking myself a lot of questions. Or maybe just lots of questions that basically boil down to one question.
What qualifies one as a "runner"?
I ask myself this because one day I want to be a "runner".
I enjoy running. It makes me feel powerful and amazing and brilliant and dynamic and proactive and accomplished and just about every other synonym you can find in a thesaurus under the word "awesome". I run three days a week. I have finished a 5K and a 10K race. I am already registered and paid for a half marathon in September. In the back of my mind I have this craving to finish a full marathon some day.
The desire is definitely there.
But if I were to videotape myself running and post it for others to see, I imagine "others" wouldn't classify me as a "runner".
I weigh over 200 pounds.
My shoes should have been replaced ages ago.
My workout clothes consist of ratty T-shirts and worn-out exercise pants bought on clearance 5 years ago.
My mile time is probably well over 10 minutes.
I've only run in two races, a 5k and a 10k.
I didn't run consistently through the fall and am just starting to run routinely again with the new year.
And when I say "run" I probably should say something more like "wog" (walking/jogging).
So, am I a "runner"???
It's not a rhetorical question. I want to know what a person must do to become such. Tell me.
At the same time, I don't want anyone to figuratively pat me on the back with lovely words such as "No worries, mate. You're a *cough* runner."
Please. Don't "Sweet Spirit" me. I know I'm not the prettiest girl at the ball, but I want to know that I belong at the ball. And if I don't belong at the ball, how do I get in? Without sneaking through the back exit that is.
Never mind how un-"runner" I am now. I can buy new shoes, new clothes. I can train more. I will be under 200 someday and someday very soon.
But...There are people walking amongst us that you just know. They run.
They are lean and long.
They carry water bottles.
They wear spandex. Confidently.
They rock a messy ponytail.
They drive Subaru's.
These people, these runners, migrated in concentrated masses at a hotel the day before my 10K race back in September. The runners had come to pick up their bibs and to mingle with like-minded people.
I knew it from the second I stepped out of the car. I didn't belong.
I tried not to hunch and hide as I stood beside my sister who was running the half marathon the next day, who is a "runner". Many people simply ignored me as they immediately embraced her as one of their own, animatedly talking to her about things like "stride" and "pace" and "PRs".
I knew what they were talking about. I had read several books on running. I had trained. I had lost 50 pounds in the process. Yet, I wasn't a runner. Not that day. And maybe not even this day that I write these words.
This year, while I don't intend on wearing spandex or purchasing a Subaru, I will walk amongst those runners as one of their own kind. This year I won't be ignored. This year I will become a runner.
Whatever that is exactly.