category: Running

I am a runner, part two.

In June of 2013, I declared myself a runner. Yes, I was only running occasionally, but I’d been doing it for long enough and enjoyed it enough that I felt it was OK to stop putting air quotes around “runner.”

A year later–almost to the day–Rasine was finishing up first grade and I realized I’d gotten used to rising early to get her to school. After school finished for the year, I figured I’d try an experiment: I’d keep getting up at the same time but instead of getting her ready and walking her to school, I’d grab a light breakfast and head out for a run. And, what do you know: it worked.

A few weeks passed and I was knocking out between three and five miles, five days a week. A few more weeks passed and I got the crazy idea in my head to sign up for a half-marathon, one suggested to me by a friend from middle school. This particular race was a notoriously hilly one, one that snaked through the battlefields at Antietam. I had three months to prep myself for a race that was three miles longer than that one time years ago I ran ten miles on a training run.

Here’s the weird thing: I did it. And it wasn’t that hard.

My half-marathon time.

Now, a year has passed since I’ve started a regular running routine. In that 365 day period (which I’m marking as starting on the first day of my morning running routine, Monday June 16, 2014), I:

  • Ran 1002.86 miles, more than quadruple my previous best calendar year
  • Ran over 210 times
  • Averaged 83.57 miles per month (19 miles per week)
  • Ran 3 races (5k, 8k, and half-marathon)
  • Am on my third pair of shoes (started in Brooks Ghost, then Hoka One One Cliftons, and now Mizuno Wave Runners)
  • Was bitten by one dog
  • Took one week off in January to rest up and get rid of some nagging knee pain
  • PR’ed the Poplar Spring 5k (which I’ve run all 12 years it’s been in existence), running the semi-hilly course in 23:27 (7:33/mile pace) and finishing 28th out of 354
  • Suffered one injury, a sprained ankle at mile 1000.25 during a nighttime run that put me out for the last three weeks of my one-year experiment. Probably shouldn’t have run that extra 2 1/2 miles after spraining it.

Year two has begun, fresh off my ankle injury, and while I have no plans for any half or full marathons, I don’t plan on letting up. I probably won’t hit my 1000 mile goal for 2015, but I’m going to keep at it and try to knock out as many 100-mile months as I can from here on out. I turn 40 this year and I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, so there’s no stopping now.

After my first half-marathon with Tara (a friend from middle school who told me about the run) and Sue (who forced me to think about running a half in the first place)

After my first half-marathon with Tara (a friend from middle school who told me about the race) and Sue (who forced me to think about running a half in the first place)

I am a runner.

Running shoes, desert

There, I said it.

Even though I’ve been running pretty regularly for over nine years, when people have asked me, “Oh, you’re a runner?” I would always reply, without fail, “Runner, in quotes.” I had all sorts of reasons for referring to myself as a “runner” rather than a runner: I only run 5 or 6 times a month for between 20 and 30 miles, I run at an unremarkable pace of 8:30, my form’s not great, I’ve never placed very well in races, I don’t have a runner’s body, my GPS is almost a decade old…

But recently, I started to reconsider the quotes. After all, I’ve been running for over nine years. I’ve run almost 20 races (5k, 4-mile, 5-mile, 10k). I’ve run as far as ten miles in a training run. I can do a mile in about seven minutes, if I push it. I’ve run in bitterly cold temperatures and I’ve run in 120 degrees in the desert. Those are all good reasons to call myself a runner.

The big one, though, was pointed out to me by a stranger I was talking to at a Loudoun Veg tabling event a couple of months ago. When I gave her my typical “runner in quotes” line, she responded with, “Do you like running?” I said, “Yeah. I do.” She said, “Then you’re a runner.”

So, there you go. I’m a runner.