Monday, March 14, 2011

I am a runner

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run." 
- John "The Penguin" Bingham

My name is Valeka and I am a runner.  Anyone that knows me (and if you don't, you soon will) knows that I am passionate about running.  I have run several half-marathons, many 10k's, loads of 5k's and countless fun runs/walks.  Heck, I have even put in MONTHS (literally) of training for a marathon (but didn't get to participate in the event because of a death in the family).  I hope to some day run an ultramarathon (a race more than 50 miles) and one of my dreams is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  If I had my way, I would run every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner - come rain, shine, snow or wind.  In my heart (and sometimes in my head), I am a Kenyan that runs gracefully and efficiently.  I have had a subscription to Runner's World and Running Times for years and read them from cover to cover (and more than once, I might add).  I am not an elite runner like Kara Goucher, Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebrselassie or the great Steve Prefontaine.  I know that I never will be.  I can (sorta) accept that but it doesn't diminish my passion for the sport.

What does a runner look like when you visualize one?  Slim?  Long limbs?  Sinewy body?  That is not me.  I'm a chubby, slow runner but I have just as much heart and enthusiasm when I line up at the start of a race as any of the "regular" runners.  Being slow limits some of the races I can participate in and what I can qualify to do (the Boston Marathon is a VERY elite race and has strict time qualifications) but that doesn't mean I'm going to stop doing what I love.  True, there are some days where I struggle to get off the sofa to even walk around the block but once I get out there, I can run all day long.  

Running is my "ME" time.  During the hour after I lace up my running shoes and smear sunblock on my face, I reconnect with myself.  The troubles of the day (or week or month!) melt away and I am absolutely joyous.  Yes, my legs eventually begin to feel like cement pillars and yes, I get tired but it makes me happy.  When I started running again about 5 years ago, it would upset me when people would pass me during a race or out on the running trail.  I felt inferior as a runner because I wasn't as fast.  I now reject that school of thought.  I now look at every run as an adventure and something that I am very lucky to be able to have the good health to do.   

I plan to get out and run this week.  I haven't run in a while and I have missed it the way I would miss a dear, old friend.  My shoes are begging to get dirty out on a dusty trail.  I think I will have to oblige them.  

Happy Trails!


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