Five days ago I ran my fourth half marathon of the year. In this space, I’ve only spoken about one of them.
There are a lot of reasons I have kept quiet about them, and many of them really have nothing to do with running. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind year, to say the least (hey guys, I’m married!), yet being busy was only part of it.
This was the year where I had to decide what the definition of “abject failure” was when it comes to running and where my line in the sand was. Talking about it (here, anyway….sorry, select friends who did have to hear about it) made it worse.
This was the year that I hit my breaking point. This was the year that I felt absolutely like a running failure, like I had no business even calling myself a runner. This was the year where 75% of my half marathons were the catalyst to second-guessing myself and physical pain. This was the year where 50% of my half marathons were finish lines I crossed with nothing but tears in my eyes and disdain for the sport in my head.
This was the year I ran my slowest half marathon ever as well as the worst race of my life, which incidentally were not the same races.
This was the year that if I hadn’t already been signed up for a fall half marathon, I’d have quit half marathons after April’s race.
And then there was Sunday. Perfectly temperatured, adequately fueled (guess who finally found a Gu flavor that doesn’t make her want to hurl?! Bless you, salted watermelon). It was a really good race, even if it wasn’t what I set out to do.
You know, maybe running isn’t so bad.
If this feels a bit disjointed, trust me, it’s far more eloquent than what’s been in my head.
This is why runners are insane. Because once you are a runner, you don’t just stop being one because you’ve had a rough year (or years, as the case may be). What do you do? You sign up for another race. And another one. And another. And you keep setting goals and learn how to bounce back if you don’t meet them.
You find training plans that work for you and running partners who you adore and you go out there on race day with nerves in the pit of your belly just like you had on the morning of that very first race. You make a decision to rededicate yourself to the sport more often than you buy new running shoes, which may or may not be a good thing.
It sounds cheesy, but you keep going and keep working and keep racing because deep down (sometimes so deep down you don’t believe it’s there) you love it.
Running is hard. It’s stupid and it’s challenging and it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring and it’s all of these millions of different things to each different runner, which makes it perfect. My running is not your running or Ange’s running or my mom’s running or anyone else’s running.
And that’s why I can’t quit. I can’t walk away from something so delightfully and explicitly MINE.
Because I am a runner. Because I will always be a runner.