Eight years ago, I overcame my insecurities and lined up for my first timed race in decades. I had decided to become a runner after indulging in too many chips and margaritas, waking up hung over and seriously questioning my unmotivated self. I had just gotten borderline news from my primary care doctor that implied if I wanted to continue indulging in chips, I needed to start moving more. A plus size gal in my early 30s, several acquaintances raised their brow at me when I declared I was going to be a runner. The only logical response for this Fin was to sign up and complete a half-marathon because the best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t. My time was mediocre at best but I finished.
Thirty plus races later, I’m currently carbo loading for another Whistlestop Half Marathon. I’m still insecure. I’m still overweight. I still enjoy too many chips and margaritas. And, my finish line time is still mediocre. My health indicators, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, are better but in every other realm I have failed at running. And, here’s a dirty secret, I don’t even like running.
There, I said it. I actually hate running. I love buying shoes, socks and stretchy black running pants. I love checking out new trails, reading inspirational running stories, posting selfies from gorgeous vistas, and runner swag. I love the running culture—the kind strangers you joke with on the trail or catch a ride with on the shuttle bus. The ultra-fast marathoners who pass me on the trail and take time to tell me I’m doing great, even though they’ve ran 13+ more miles than me and can run 2-3 miles to my 1. I love traveling to new places and meeting the volunteers who dedicate their Saturdays so I can run.
It turns out you can do all of that without actually running. When push comes to shove, though, I absolutely hate running. I’m sure this is partially due to my size. But, if I’m honest, I realized that deep down I hate running because I’m mediocre at it. And, I’m mediocre at it because I’m not willing to put the work in to be a good runner. I’m not willing to do the stretches, train regularly, eat healthy and lose weight so that my legs aren’t carrying an extra hundred pounds.
Why after 8-years do I keep showing up? Who knows. Who cares. I certainly don’t. Because at the end of the day, something keeps bringing me back to the trail. Perhaps it is my inner Sisu—this gritty hustle deep within me that says I’m running for me and that’s enough. It doesn’t matter if I’m first or last. That instead, this run reminds me that you get out what you put in. And that at times, that needs to be enough.
I’ve had one of the most lackluster trainings in the past 8-years. I haven’t run 13-miles since I crossed the finish line at Grandma’s Half-Marathon in June. I’ve done minimal training and thoroughly enjoyed a summer of over indulging. In all tangible ways to measure my training, I have failed. Except I haven’t, because I keep showing up. I’m not willing to let the dream of someday being a good runner and everything I could have, should have done, prevent me from just being a runner today. I’m not willing to let the part of me that longs to finish first or to be the best, prevent me from doing something folks said I couldn’t do. Call it cliché, I run because I can folks, and for someone who had a one-legged dad right now, that means something. And come Saturday, I’ll cross that finish line—not for him but me. It won’t be pretty but it’ll be me doing me.