Monday, November 21, 2011

The Giving of Thanks

I'm in the middle, in between Thanksgiving Day races. On Saturday I ran the Clear Water Outdoor's Turkey Trot 10K in Big Foot Beach State Park in Lake Geneva,WI. It was a trail race with rolling hills. I enjoyed the trees and the trails. I was thankful that the tree roots on the trail were painted white so we wouldn't trip on them. I was thankful for the weather, the wonderful company of the Grayslake Running Club (GCR) and the other runners who inspire me to run faster, specifically to the lady in brown who ran/walked the whole way and would sprint up the hills because she could.

On Thanksgiving day I will be running the Mayor's Turkey Day Run in Kenosha, WI. It's another 10K, but this one will be on the road. Yes, I am using it as an excuse to eat. Most likely, I would eat the same amount, but this at least means I get a workout in before I put on my elastic pants.

I've never done either of these Thanksgiving Day races before. I'll be honest. One of the reasons I'm doing these races is because they were cheap. However, one of the other reasons I am doing the Mayor's Turkey Day Run is because Jenny Crain holds the women's record for it. I first read Jenny's story in Runners' World. Jenny Crain is inspirational and reminds me to be thankful. Jenny Crain was an Olympic hopeful runner that was hit by a car. Today she struggles through physical therapy to walk and talk. I ran the Milwaukee Marathon this year along with the Jennipede. The Jennipede is now the largest number of runners to finish a marathon together, and the record was set to raise money for Jenny's therapy costs. She's an amazing fighter.

It can all change in an instant. I know that. There is so much to be thankful for right now; my family, my friends, my home, my health. The list is a long list. This Thanksgiving count your blessings or at least try.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Admitting I'm a Runner is the First Step

I turned a corner recently. I don't know when I did, but something changed. I think now I'm ready to admit that I'm a runner. Previously, I would have just said that I run. Why? It was because I thought if I professed to be a runner then I would most likely stop being one. Runner suggested a title rather than a constant doing. I figured if I became a runner I'd then sit on the couch eating bon bons. My card would be punched, and I'd have arrived, sat down, and stopped running.

I've run for a long time. I've never been on a track or a cross country team. I took a running class in high school. I don't think I threw up in class, but I'm sure I threw up sometime in the semester. At the end of the class we had to run a 10K. I had wonderful friends who paced with me at the back of the pack and talked about what kind of food there would be at the finish line. At the end of the semester, I got the "Most Improved Runner Award." I called it my "I Don't Suck as Much Medal." Same def. I thought the runners were the kids in the class who ran a half marathon instead of the 10K.

In college I took a 10K running class. I also took dance classes and ice skating. My 10K class was taught by a wheelchair runner who came in third at Boston that year. There were plenty of runners in my class. No throwing up here, just a good in class dry heave. When asked what my favorite distance was, I defaulted to the two mile because others had said it, and it was the shortest. Our final was a 10K. I'm not sure why, but I had to take my final at a different time than everybody else. I ran my 10K on the indoor track alone, which for me was nice. When I finished, my instructor told me that he was glad that people like me took the class. Me, the running nonrunner.

There have been periods of my life that I ran a race every weekend. It has always been theraputic, even when being passed by an older women in polyester pants and Rockport shoes. Even when I had to ask the high school kids on bikes following the last runner in the race to move back a little to give me space, it's been good. I was running when I met my husband and have been running through the birth of our three girls.

About that corner, I noticed that I've rounded it twice recently, once when talking to my husband and once when talking to a friend. I asked my husband about buying gear. It was something I felt I needed at the time, and it seemed like a bigger purchase. He said, "You've been running since I met you and you're still running so I think you'll use it." Oh. I guess I do have a running history. And when talking to a friend about a race, I realized I didn't really care about the swag. I know. It was a shock to me too. Maybe I run because I am a runner.