I am a runner.
I am done referring to "real" runners as someone other than myself, even when I try to funny it up, as in "real runners, whatever THAT IS."
This is not because I've done any official event. I haven't yet.
It's not because I reached any distance or speed goal. I haven't yet.
Not because I've reached peak fitness and *look* like a real runner. I haven't yet.
I am still Karen, who barely picks her feet up when she runs (and thus is in constant danger of tripping and falling over a sidewalk crack). Still Karen, whom the power-walkers passed easily on the Chicago lakefront path - and I expect more of the same, come Bix time. Still by any doctor's definition "morbidly obese" - I'm guessing the scale would STILL report I am at least 75 pounds overweight at this point, if I wanted to sabotage myself and step on it.
Still a long, long way from any finish line.
So why am I calling myself a runner NOW?
A friend who has been a HUGE encouragement for my writing and for my running stamped me with the "runner" title quite awhile back. I was encouraged when she said so. But I didn't feel it yet.
But yesterday morning I woke up to pouring rain at 4:45 AM, and I joyously slid into my running clothes and out the door, excited to be out there. I ran my full 40+ minutes, 2.6 miles, in rain and some wind. I got soaked clear through - clothes, hair, shoes, the whole shebang.
I realized that not so long ago, on a rainy day I'd have taken the day off and tried again tomorrow. That wasn't even a thought that crossed my mind before yesterday's run. I just had to get out there.
I thought about that while I ran. That I have run for a full year as of later this month. I have run in every kind of weather. I didn't let winter push me off the street. I didn't let moving derail me. I'm not doing this because I "should." I'm no longer in the place of having to dress quickly and go, to trick myself into not skipping it.
I'm running because I love it. I'm pushing into the wind for the joy of the challenge. I'm choosing to run up hills just to prove I can. I'm totally grooving on the way my leg and butt muscles feel when I move.
I don't know if I'll ever get better than a 15 minute mile. And since that's not the point of the story, it doesn't tax my love of being out there.
I am a runner.
I thought I never, ever, EVER could be.
What if you're a runner too, and you just don't know it? What other unknown passions might be there in you, just waiting for a bit of stirring?
In other news, another pictorial celebration. Today I was in a "thrift store style show" for an organization I'm in. I got to wear a smokin' hot dress. I bought the thing. Where will I wear it? I HAVE NO IDEA. My daughter tells me to create an occasion, if necessary. Hey, I'm willing!
Check this out: here I am in August 2009 at my daughter's wedding. I was all dressed up. I felt pretty darn great about the way I looked (I mean, other than totally hating and being ashamed of my body):
Here I am today at the style show:
It ain't only POUNDS falling off.
It's years falling off.
It's self-hatred falling off.
It's doubt falling off.
And get this: tomorrow, I get to wake up and run again!
How cool is THAT?!