I am one of those runners who run for the sole purposely of running. Those who refuse to let gravity win unchallenged. I run to stay one step ahead of my aging process, but mostly, I run because I love the way I feel when I do.
I am a runner.
I am a middle of the pack runner and as injuries and age take a toll, even further behind on the race field.
I am part of that growing family of runners. Those who smile as they pass one another. The ones who sit around a table stretching their calves and talking about shoes, races, energy drinks.
I don’t worry about my pace or anybody else’s and nobody cares about mine even if it makes part of our conversation. Pace, I’ve learned, when not in the elite status, is a matter of perspective. My PRs are somebody’s slowest time. Yet, a benchmark to others. My milestones in marathons, even as a Boston qualification, came so far behind the front pack that by then the Overalls had collected their award and were on a plane back home.
That is the beauty of running.
The sport that appreciates the effort and the struggle of all. I am the master of my own races, faster than some, slower than many. Like most runners, I run against my own insecurities and that is okay.
It was not always that way, though. 30 to 40 years ago runners my pace wouldn’t dare compete. Today’s winning time at a local 10K would barely make the middle of the pack in the 70s and the field was much smaller then than it is now. The average runner was faster, a lot faster. An implied statement that it was reserved, with exceptions of course, for the gifted runner. I am grateful that I found my passion for running now in an era when a runner is accepted, regardless of their pace, for their conviction and determination and yes, their guts.
I am one of those runners. Accepted, respected, sought after, and appreciated by race organizers. I am part of that pack that makes up 80% of the race field. I am who makes a race big.
I am a runner.