A few weeks ago, I was at a photo shoot for work. We were shooting our July cover girl, who is the super-successful daughter of two beyond-successful parents — both Broadway superstars and Tony Award-winners.
I sat at the shoot being totally charmed by this effervescent young woman. She seemed to have everything going for her: She’s a true triple threat who can sing and dance circles around most people I know. She’s also a knockout with killer style.
But she caught me off guard when she said that although she had been dancing since she was little, it took her until college to truly consider herself a dancer.
“That’s crazy! You’ve been dancing your entire life,” I told her. “Why wouldn’t you call yourself a dancer?”
“Uhh, do you know who my parents are?” she asked me. “They are dancers. When I was growing up I saw what they did and compared it to what I was doing. I wasn’t even close to their level, so I didn’t think I was a real dancer.”
I’ve written before about how I never really feel like a real runner, and I have a hard time identifying myself as one. Usually when people ask me what I do I’ll say I’m a former dancer or I’ll say “I like to run.” I rarely say “I’m a runner.”
I can really relate to what our cover girl said that day at the shoot. I look at superstars like Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan [insert girl crush comment here] and I obviously don’t compare to them. They are competitive, serious runners.
This morning, I woke up at 5 am. I followed my morning routine (bathroom, abs, dynamic stretching), and then, per Coach Cane’s plan for the day, I headed up to Central Park for a few loops around the Bridle Path (covering 5 miles total).
As I finished my run — which was a little rough due to the exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately — I saw Megan, Kelly and Maria at Engineer’s Gate.
“Want to come run with us?!” Megan asked.
My verbal response was, “Aw, I just finished my run, thank you though!”
And in my head I was thinking, “Is this chick crazy? I can’t keep up with these speed demons.”
But I also felt like the new girl at school who gets invited to sit with the cool kids at lunch. These women, ones I admire for their dedication and badassery, wanted me to run with them.
As I ran back to my apartment, I realized something: I’m a runner now.
I wake up at 5 am to put on sneakers and run while many people are still out drinking from the night before (and power to them). My apartment is littered with sweaty workout clothes that have been laid out to dry (and that I will definitely wear 2–12 more times before washing them). I spend my days thinking about my latest splits, my next race and when I get to run again.
I know I’m not the only one going through life that way.
I finally feel like I’m really a part of the amazing running community, both in NYC and beyond. I’m not the fastest runner and I’m certainly not the most stylish…
…but I’m a runner now, and I accept it. I’ve run five half marathons and a handful of shorter races. I’m also training for my first full marathon. It’s an exciting time to be a runner!
So now, in addition to the other labels I’ve given myself — Gym Rat, Neat Freak, Overachiever, Grammar Nerd — I’ll add one more.
I am a runner.
Thanks to the Central Park morning runners for helping me come to terms with that.
I suppose part of being a runner means being smarter and not doing dumb things, like two-a-day workouts every single day. Turns out, that doesn’t impress Coach Cane, and my body doesn’t really appreciate it.
I’m so glad I took yesterday off from work. It was amazing being able to relax, run some errands and even take in a spin class at night with my favorite teacher. Miraculously, once I left the gym I felt a million times better. I walked all the way home while catching up with my mom on the phone. It was a great day and I feel a bit more human today than I did on Monday.
Maybe I should also add Rule Breaker to my list, because yet again I’m wearing white today and Memorial Day is still a few days away.
I hope my sweet, traditional grandmother doesn’t mind my rule breaking. I swear I never break any other rules.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Do you call yourself a Runner? Or have you ever had a hard time putting a label on yourself?