Athlete, Identified.

"I'm not a runner.  I don't run".  I told him.

Earlier this year I popped into Second Sole to get new running shoes from my friend Tim.  I'd left mine in Bali (intentionally), and two months later thought it might be time to get new ones.  The fact that i can go 8 weeks without running shoes is indicative of how often i need/use them. I was telling Tim that I don't run and i can't run.  I listed my excuses about asthma, how I'm German and built to carry things not float around like a gazelle, that i was a gymnast (when i was THIRTEEN) so endurance was never introduced, blablabla.  I've never run a mile under 14 mins, I told him.  Tim said, "this is like someone telling you that they're not flexible enough for yoga". 

Oh Shit.

I texted Hal from the store that because of this, I was now considering a half-marathon.  I'd finished one 10k, and a handful of 5ks in my life, so why not.  I'm not one to shy away from a bold decision.  Tim outlined a few options; mentioning Columbus as a great crowd and less hilly course.  Then Halle committed, sent me a screen shot.

Shit again.  Now I have to.

Hal and I vary in experience, skill set and reasons for committing to the 1/2.  So we used the same training app, talked about and supported each other through training, but rarely ran together.  For accountability, I tried to join Second Sole's running group on Tuesdays.  Showing up to this group was scary for me; I am a slow runner.  But bigger than that was the other fear; the fear of saying something totally awkward or being weird, or not wanted; the adolescent fear.  But I found the group to be kind, inclusive, supportive and diverse in age and ability.  People remembered my name, as they run with you or past you, they say great job.  Every week!  Great job!  Along the way I made a new friend in Claire, who came to meet me on Tuesdays.  Claire didn't mind slowing her pace to match mine, even if it meant we were the last ones in, chatting away about life and goals.  I am so grateful to Claire, the first person I ever ran over a mile straight with, who could always run faster, but never judged my need to walk or pre-run sandwich eating.  Look at me, a non-runner with a running buddy.   

Growing up, I wasn't the "athlete".  I was drawn to more creative endeavors; dance, music, art.  In retrospect there were times I was scared to try sports.  I was shy, so I stayed away from groups.  I was scared to let people down, so team sports intimidated me; what happens if the team loses and it's my fault.  On the other end of the spectrum, I was scared to win, because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  Long story short, I never played a team sport.  However, in an effort to not rewrite history, my natural ability doesn't involve anything with a net, a ball, or a stick.  But maybe it does, honestly I don't know that I ever gave it chance.

There were many firsts in this training for me. I'd never run more than one mile straight, or under 14 mins.  I ran over 7 miles straight Sunday without needing a walking break.  My running app (because I have one of those) says i went 13.74 miles yesterday, and my average pace was under 12 mins (11:57, but ill take it).  During a training run i ran a 9:30 mile.  I share this because I am proud.  But I also share this because often times it isn't other people that limit us.  In my case, I'd created this identity of not being athletic or capable of running, or competing.  I'd kept myself back from joining because I was afraid of not being the best, or of winning, even. 

I don't know what's next.  It's often a question after a big event.  Will you do it again?  Maybe.  It didn't feel crazy to me, I can walk today and I got to eat carbs for 3 months straight without analyzing it (glorious).  But this training for me was more about dropping limitations and labels I'd placed on myself.  It was about getting out there on days I didn't feel like it, and exploring a new identity.  Me: the running group-going, 1/2 marathon training, sleep early on a Saturday to run long Sunday, person.  I showed up.  It's amazing how much can be accomplished, by simply placing one foot in front of the other.

-xo, your athletic sister,