What Being A Runner Means to Me

I am in a running group on Facebook, Keep Calm & Run On, we have 221 members all who I would call runners. In our group we have Ultra Marathon runners and first time beginners who are working their way up to a mile but, they are still all runners. I find them to be my biggest supporters, even though I have never met most of them in person. They are constantly motivating me to push harder, especially the ones who are just starting their running journey because I like them was once at a point a mile was hard for me to finish. I dreaded the thought of running and didn’t understand why anyone would every want to put themselves through such torture. Then I ran my first 5K and I was hooked!

One of the fantastic ladies in my running group posted this story today and considering that I recently decided to sign up for my first full it struck a nerve with me.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/sports/23marathon.html?_r=2&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com

I am by no means what someone would consider an “elite” or even fast runner but, I am still a runner. No time clock can take that title away from me. When I read this piece some of the opinions people had about not allowing people who couldn’t run the whole marathon in disgusted me.

I know for a fact I will not be able to run 26.2 miles with out walking, that is something I’ve accepted because my body will not let me physically do that. However that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try or give this marathon my all AND that certainly doesn’t mean that once I’ve completed my 26.2 gloriously torturous miles because my clock time wasn’t “elite” I can’t call myself a MARATHON RUNNER!

To the person who said slow runners are ruining this sport I strongly disagree I feel we are the best backbone and support system for this sport. It is a sport where I have constantly felt encouraged and welcome by all runners not put down because I was slower than some. I support the marketing of slow runner T-Shirts, bumper stickers and water bottles because things like that make us feel that it is okay to be slow and that we are still part of the running community.

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Will we be trying out for the next Olympic games hell no but then again neither will some of those people quoted bashing slow runners. Just because we can’t complete on an elite level doesn’t mean we can’t participate. If that were so beer league softball or football games should be banned because how dare you have fun and not compete on an elite professional level. THAT’S JUST STUPID! We are not all out there to complete against other people some of us, like myself, like completing against me! I want to improve me not you.

However I will say that I agree with course time limits. I think that as long as the time limit reflects that effort is being put into your effort on the course a limit is okay. Every race I’ve ever been in has them and they are typically very reasonable.

I also fully support the Boston Marathon and New York City Marathon where you have to qualify! That is something I won’t ever be able to do but does that make me less of a marathon runner – HELL NO!

In the article I read that one race the runner stopped for lunch on the course, this to me isn’t running a marathon. I believe that in order to run a race you have to give it your all and if you need to walk there is nothing wrong with that. If you are putting forth the effort to finish I commend you.

While reading this story two of my own experiences popped into  my head and with the views that these people had saying people aren’t “runners” would have robbed two wonderful people of an experience of a lifetime. So what if it’s a bucket list item for some people, I’M ONE OF THEM!

My first ever half in Disney my friend and I watched the marathon runners finish from Epcot. I will never forget this older woman who was running the Goofy Challenge (completing the half and the full). I would have to guess she was in her 70s. Two men on a golf cart were picking up the last of the stragglers or injured runners before the course time maxed out and they tried to pick her up and convince her to let them take her to the finish line. I’ll never forget her power walking with all she had left saying Nope, Nope, Nope I started and I’m going to finish. She IS and inspirational RUNNER!

Or Dave, the man who runs the Pittsburgh marathon every year in FULL FIREFIGHTING GEAR! Yes he walks and yes he is typically the last to finish but he does it for a wonderful cause raising money for Volunteer Fire Departments. Last year the Pittsburgh Marathon left the finish line open specifically so he could finish and the video of him crossing the finish line and the support everyone who waited there for him showed him is bringing tears to my eyes as I type this.

So to all the closed minded “elite” minded snobs – I hope you think about these stories and experiences you would rob someone of because you don’t think marathons should be open to all!

Get to know some of the runners who are there for fun or to cross it off a bucket list because I guarantee to you their stories will motive you and change your life!

 

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