Saturday, November 13, 2010
Today I got a call from a friend of mine. After talking a few minutes she laughed and said “So, I see from your status on Facebook that you are a runner now?”
She knows me well, and knows my story. My weight loss, and also that I've run 4 5ks. So I thought it was odd she was saying something like that, but I knew she was kidding – mostly.
So I said “Yeah?” And she pushed the issue. So I said “Well, I am a runner.” But I didn't sound as firm as I would have liked. I kind of said it softly. Then I followed that up with “I think anyone that runs 1-3 times a week is a runner.” and she laughed, as if that didn't define a runner to “her”, but OK, she was going to let it go at that.
Now, like I said...I'm pretty sure she was kidding. She's a joking kind of person.
It kind of pissed me off.
Now I know there are different “levels” of runners. There are marathoners, of which I have some friends who run marathons. They rock. There are people that run 10Ks, 8Ks, 5Ks, 3Ks and those that run just for fun. Those that run to get in shape, keep in shape, or just because they like the feel of the pavement under their feet.
All of these “types” of runners has got me a little dizzy. How about you? WHY does there have to be a “class” or “type” or “intensity” of runner anyway? Why do I feel like because I "only" run 5ks that I'm not an “official” runner???? What is wrong with this picture?
I told my friend that if you run 1 – 3 times a week you are a runner, but the truth of it is, you are a runner if you RUN. If you just RUN out the door and take a run down the block, you are a runner at that point in time.
I am also a writer, and this sort of “defining what sort of runner I am” reminds me all too much of a writer who is unpublished. Oh, the unpublished writer is always having to justify him or herself at parties or gatherings. The conversation goes something like this:
“What do you do?”
“I'm a writer.”
“Oh, really? Where have you been published?”
Now, funny enough, and yes, this is usually the question at the top of the list, sometimes they may ask “what do you write” before the “are you published” bit, but they always ask if you are publlished, funny enough, most people that ask this are NOT writers themselves. Actually writers hardly EVER ask this question of another writer because it is RUDE.
Yes, I am a published writer. But even if I weren't, I AM a writer. I write. That is the definition of a writer.
Same with a runner. Do you run? Then you are a runner!
There is no magic certificate that you get to officially pronounce to the world that you are a runner. Yes, there are medals. I know there are medals. Yes, some people get them. And some don't. Just because you don't receive a medal does NOT mean you are not a runner.
Back to that conversation above. After a while, writers will usually not tell other people they are writers. Or they sort of whisper it. They certainly don't go about shouting it.
Same with my “running” status. I am allowed to post a quote onto my Facebook page with a running quote. There isn't any sort of law against it. I can associate myself with runners. And the quote I wrote is very appropriate to my little rant in this blog here.
The quote that I shared on my Facebook page was this:
"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." -Author Unknown
So that means it doesn't matter how many people have gone before you. How many others have crossed that finish line. What matters is that YOU cross it. That I cross it, at some point.
There is nothing stopping me from sharing an inspirational quote. Now if it makes you feel weird because you aren't a runner, skip it. Don't comment on it and pass it by. It doesn't care. I don't care. I'm not trying to make anyone feel bad.
Because I have runners as FB friends, close friends of mine, and I know they will appreciate it. And I'm not going to edit myself for anyone.
Funny thing about that comment from my friend, which I'm sure I am making WAY BIGGER of a deal than it is. I know I am. BUT. It made me feel a certain way. Like I didn't have a right to quote something about being a runner.
The funny thing about that is, like I said earlier...it pissed me off. Well, the funny thing about being pissed off is...it makes you do things. Sometimes crazy things.
I drove my daughter to her dance class at 10 a.m. this morning. It was pouring rain. After running her into the building, I had my book and was sitting along the wall, along with all the other parents, and bored off my butt. A little nagging voice inside my head was replaying that conversation over and over. And I kept thinking that you are what you do. So..I threw down my book, went out to my car and got my gym bag out of the trunk. I brought it inside and changed into my running clothes and shoes. I slapped on my HRM. I got my iPod set. I put my gym bag in the locker at the park district where Lucy's class was being held, and I pushed “play”. “Rock your body” remix came on. It was so appropriate. I was pissed off and needed to move.
I walked out of that ladies room like Wonder Woman. I strutted down the hallway, everyone looking at me. I meant business. Bondi band? Check. Thermal long-sleeve shirt? Check. Gloves? Check. I reminded myself of the Frog brothers from the Lost Boys. I was Corey Feldman, except his red ninja head band was replaced by a Bondi band embellished with flowers. I was ready to go. I was fierce. (Did I ever tell you than an alter ego comes out when I run? It was in full force!)
I slammed open the door and let the rain in. And I started to run.
I am a planner and if I do run outside (and I don't normally, see my prior blog "Love poem to my indoor track") I map out my route before I go, but not this time. I felt half crazy, running in the rain and not really having a destination. I ran down a path, but it stopped short. I ran through a park. I ran on the grass. I ran up and down some blocks and you know what? I felt great. I felt like a RUNNER. You know why? Because I AM a runner. Who else would be crazy enough to do this? I burned off steam and about 200 calories. I only ran a mile because by that time I had to get back to pick Lucy back up. I walked back in the building and everyone along the wall stared at me again.
Yes, I'm red, my throat is burning, but I am alive and I ran while you all just sat there. Not that there's anything wrong with that :) I'm just sayin'.
But I ran.
Let's say it all together. Feel free to say it with me and scream it at your computer monitor.
I AM A RUNNER!!!!
And I will scream it to the world.
I AM A RUNNER!!!
And don't let ANYONE tell you that you aren't.
Now watch me go.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."
~ Will Rogers
"Someday you will run so fast and so far your heart will feel like FIRE...."
~ from the book "Someday" by Alison McGhee
A picture of my track, my love.
Due to financial reasons, last week I considered dropping my gym membership. Lately all I've been utilizing is the indoor track, not the classes, not the pool. Just the track. I wondered, is it worth it? Can't I just run outside? Yes. I can. But WILL I run outside? I'm not sure. Yes, maybe...sometimes...but a little voice inside my head says perhaps I'll forget it. When it's cold out I might just stay under the covers...
Don't get me wrong, I admire all of you who do run outside. You are super heroes to me! I do want to run outside some time during the winter, but to keep my schedule of running 2-3x a week I KNOW me, and I will not get out in the cold snow that often to run. Once a week? Maybe. Once every two weeks or once a month? More likely. For me.
And the thing is, if that what will help me, I deserve an indoor track if that's what I need to reach my goals, to continue running in the winter, to get healthy. I will just have to cut from other areas of my life. I'm already downgrading our cable and looking for another cell phone provider. I already bring my lunches to work and that's how I justified this gym membership in the first place.
So I'm keeping it!! I'm happy now. I already missed my track in the week I've been away due to my back. My track may not be 100% necessary, but it's my comfort blanket right now. I love it and I'm not ready to let go. Not yet. I wasn't looking forward to figuring out how to run outside in the winter. Although I AM going to start running outside, I won't do it all the time now that I have my safe, cozy indoor track that I LOVE.
Here's a poem to you, trusty and warm indoor track.
My feet hit the black track
It always pulls me back
It there when I need it,
quickie at lunch
late evening after the kids are asleep.
It's there when I want it,
It never lets me down.
Its there for every stride
It holds me up
helps mold me
Its my track
I hope I never lose it
It's my track...
and I deserve it.
NOW my goal is to get up early twice a week and get my butt to the gym to get those runs in. On the weekend I can sleep in - a little. And I may just take a class or two...
Monday, November 08, 2010
"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." -Author Unknown
As some of you may know, about a week ago I woke up on a Friday morning and my lower back was hurting so badly that I couldn’t even sit in my desk at work and had to call in sick. It hurt to move, let alone walk or run. The first thought to cross my mind was “What about the Hot Chocolate??” I was devastated and couldn’t see me running a 5k anytime soon.
I went to a chiropractor that came highly recommended and she took tests and x-rays and to make a long story short I need to see her a lot over the next 6 weeks. She gave me an adjustment and told me that I would be OK to run if I felt ok, that I should stop the moment I was in any pain.
So I knew it was all in God’s hands, and that I would do my best. I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I had to walk any of it, but I would be let down and disappointed. I started to view the race as not a “timed race or event”, but just as a nice run along the lakefront. Seeing it this way in my head made it seem like it was a short distance and something that was more casual than a “race”. 3.1 miles? No prob!
The day started out cold, I had my newly purchased “Will Run For Chocolate” hat on, winter gloves, and a wind resistant jacket. I had spent the night in the city at my sister Kara’s house so that we would be ready for the 5 a.m. wake up call, and to get on a Metra at that time of morning would just be brutal and insane.
She was so sweet and even laid out my cereal for me that morning, with a banana on the side – my race day breakfast of choice. I felt loved and nurtured and later she told me it was to get me to hurry (I tend to be a slow riser), but it still was such a sweet gesture.
We got on the Blue Line and I am used to the suburbs, so to see at least 50 people at the stop – all in brown Hot Chocolate hoodies was just amazing! Then once on the El it was packed with…you guessed it…hoodies! The race had 30,000 participants, so I guess it makes sense. It was just surreal to be getting on the train in the dark with all of these other people, all going to the same place. But it made me feel like a part of something, and also made me feel like an athlete – it was pretty cool.
Me (right) with my sister Kara
We met up with fellow Sparkers Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick. I missed Mel (MELMEI), I must have passed her on the street. I also met Shelley (FARLEY_GIRL) and another Sparker, I don’t remember her name right now (I'm terrible w/ names)…I had to leave the group to meet up with my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) because I had safety pins for her, but we stopped to check our gear first. It was already past 7:30 and the race started at 7:40. The gear check lines were LONG. We ended up check all of our gear (mine, Kara and Jan’s) together under my number because for some reason the line was MUCH shorter, we’re talking 3 people vs. 40. By the time we got to the race corral it was so packed we had to wait outside of the corral and wait for the line to move up and then we all herded in. It was 10 minutes past the official start time of 7:40.
Official picture from RAM Racing to give you an idea of how dark it was.
Official start picture from RAM Racing.
And we’re off! I started off slow and easy and kept that pace most of the run. I saw my other sister, Kris (STEMMEFATALE) a few minutes after we started running , which was great because she is the one who inspired me to run a 5k, and we usually run together, and I wasn’t able to find her before the race to give her the safety pins, and it made me sad. I saw someone that looked like her pass me, and I looked at Kara and said “I think that’s Kris” and it was! So I ran up to her and we ran for a bit together, but her pace is naturally faster than mine so I told her to go ahead.
I did speed up to go around walkers at times. I didn’t mind the walkers at all, but I do think they need to have a later starting time. There were so many of them that they weren’t all off to the right, many were on the left and at times the path was narrow and it was difficult to pass. They had entertainment on the route, there were cheerleaders and I thought that was pretty awesome.
I kept running, stopping for some water at the break station, and because this is where the main traffic jam happened. I had to stop for a second anyway, so I might as well grab some water. Then I kept running.
As I turned the corner, looking onto the lake front the sun was rising and it was just gorgeous. The song from Bedoin Soundclash “Mountain Top” came on my iPod and it was so appropriate. I felt kind of like I had climbed a mountain during this journey of mine from a couch potato to a runner. I felt a calmness wash over and a voice inside of my head said “Don’t forget this. Don’t ever forget this.” It’s not every day that I get to run along the lake front. The sun was shining and it was just a gorgeous Chicago day.
At this point traffic along the path slowed down to a halt. Almost everyone in front of me was walking, and the other runners took to the slope of grass that was above the path so that they could run. I followed suit, but then soon regretted my decision when I saw we’d have to jump down in order to get on the next stretch of slope. Jumping was not in my plan of keeping my back and knee healthy. So I remained on the path along the lake and it slowed me down, but I kept running.
My sister Kara and her boyfriend Jan pretty much ran by my side, sometimes I would lose them but they would catch up and we crossed the finish line together. I had never ran a race with my sister Kara, so this was very cool to me, an experience I will cherish forever. As I neared the finish line a song that I wasn’t aware I put on my workout playlist came on. It is a Christian song called “Unrestrained” and it was just perfect to have that be the song as I neared the finish line. The song is from a compilation album called "Pure Worship" and it starts off with "Lord, I worship you, most Holy Lord, you have my attention." - I certainly did have His attention as I didn't know this song was on my workout playlist. It is about honoring God in every way, and pouring our love on him and my whole life belonging to Him. Even in my running, I am worshiping God, and as the song here, giving him my heart unrestrained. I couldn’t have done any of this without God. It was really a wonderful moment. I keep my Christian music separate from my workout music, and it was just a happy “accident” to have that song come on!
Overall I finished in 41 minutes and 38 seconds. This was my slowest 5k time to date, but you know what? This was the best race experience I’ve had so far. My back injury forced me to relax about the race and also to just enjoy the scenery. I wasn’t nervous like I normally am. I think I learned a lot from this experience, most of all to just enjoy the race! That could be applied to life, too. Sometimes I tend to be a worrier and instead of enjoying the moment I worry it to death. From now on I am going to try and take things one day at a time.
I also finished 43rd out of the 100 entrants in my age class. So I was in the top half, not too shabby for someone who a year ago would never have thought of running a 5k.
After the race with my sister Kara
After the race with my two sisters - Kris (STEMMEFATALE) on my left and Kara on my right.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) after the race
Then it was onto the hot chocolate and fondu! The fondu was a very nice set up. The elements were all in a dish and then fresh, hot chocolate was scooped into your tray and you were ready to dip!
After that I said goodbye to my sisters and headed off with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick for a photo shoot at Buckingham Fountain. My camera was acting up, so only one of those came out, but Jenn took several great shots, one of us posing as Charlies' Angels, it was hilarious!
Jen (JENJESS48) and her husband Patrick.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)
Patrick, Me, Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and Jen (JENJESS48)
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID) and my Family
Then we walked about a mile to go to brunch at Yolk, a restaurant I had been dying to go to since I saw it on Check, Please. It was worth the 45 minute wait (where we all stretched out as we waited).
I ordered the Eggs Benedict and ate half of it. It lived up to its name of the best in the city! The coffee was also excellent.
Me with Jenn (KITHKINCAID)
Jen (JENJESS48) with Patrick. They walked their first 5k, I'm so proud of them!
Then it was off to catch my train.
I had a great time and it was so much fun to meet fellow Sparkers!! It’s a day I won’t forget soon. I am so very proud of Jenn (KITHKINCAID), who ran her first 5k and to know that I inspired her to do so. To have a friend that inspired me to try a new dance, Zumba, and to have inspired her back is just amazing. Kind of like a fitness "pay it forward". There isn't any gift greater than that. And to run the race with her was an experience that is just priceless.
If you think you can't do it, YOU CAN. Just put one foot in front of the other.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
"The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for 30 years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found."
-- Calvin Trillin
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
My daughter couldn't muster the willpower to lose unwanted pounds. One day, watching a svelte friend walking up our driveway, she lamented, "Linda's so skinny it makes me sick."
"If it bothers you," I suggested gently, "why don't you do something about it?"
"Good idea, Mom," she replied. Turning to her friend, she called out, "Hey, Linda, have a piece of chocolate cake."
-- Doris E. Fletcher
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