-Jen Rhines, U.S. Olympic marathoner
"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race; it's to test the limits of the human heart."
- Bill Bowerman
Let's be clear, I am not a runner. In college I ran because the AF made me. When we switched to the bike test, I was elated. Now, I only run to the store or the bank or after a small one. I own a hat that says, "I thought they said RUM."
The logical question then is "Why in the name of all things holy would you chose to run a 1/2 marathon less than a year from back surgery when you haven't run in nearly a year and a half?" Because my friend asked me to. Yes, it is that simple of an answer. My friend lost her husband in Afghanistan. So, when she asked me if I was running the ½ with her, my mind drew blank of all the reasons I can list for why I would never do this and the only thing I could think to say was "Sure." You see, she doesn't ask people to do things for her, she asks how she can do for others. She is a doer. She is amazing. And with that, we started to run.
But this is not the only story, although it would be enough. The rest of the story is that I found out that I am a runner. For the fact is that simply stepping onto the track makes me one. I don't need to be fast, or strong, or the best, or anything. I simply must move forward to be a runner. In college, I thought if you walked at all, you failed. But that is untrue. There is a whole strategy that involves running/walking in intervals. And no, you don't look weak doing it. In fact, we gave it a cool name, ‘juffling’ (that’s where you jog and shuffle) so now it is a thing, and we are awesome because of it.
I learned that the company you keep makes all the difference. The women I run with are fabulous. They are crazy, and funny, and overwhelmed, and inspiring, and uplifting, and crazy (that bears repeating). I love it. I look forward to it. They make me believe the impossible...that I am capable of doing this. Moreover, they are worth the trip to do it again.
And finally, I learned that even though I am not the runner in this family, I can teach my kids to run. We had a blast running the kids race. My oldest is hooked on getting medals (I am assured this is normal in the running community). They learned that a mile is a long way, and more importantly, that running 13.1 is a ridiculously long way. They were allowed a glimpse of the woman I am and not just the mom that I am.
"I am a runner because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far. I am a runner because I say I am. And no one can tell me I'm not." -John Bingham In the end, running is the answer to so much. It is how we all find time for each other without kids. It is how we solve our problems…one mile at a time. It is how we reach out when it has been too long. It is more than a step, it is a journey.
My running story is unique…and completely average. I have never met a runner without a story. A story of how this run is overcoming an obstacle, or helping someone, or helping him/herself, or finding him/herself.
Do you have a running story? Please tell me.