This question has been asked of me countless times, and it’s usually the result of the necklace I wear constantly. I purchased this necklace almost four years ago during the midst of my marathon training. I loved its simplicity, symbolism and meaning. From the time I put it on back in 2008, I can literally count on ONE hand how many times I have taken off this necklace.
It has come to define me. You see, it is literally in almost every photo taken of me:
So, yeah. The necklace has been with me for some time now. I don’t see us parting anytime soon.
I get the question a lot from friends, family, strangers and patients: “Are you a runner?” To which, depending on what phase of running I’m in, I’ll answer either, “YES!” or “Well, I’m on a bit of a hiatus right now, but yes.”
The bottom line is always the same.
I. Am. A. Runner.
I’m not fast. I’m not going to break any land/speed records. I’m not particularly competitive on the race course. I run for a myriad of reasons, none of which is placing in the top three in my age category.
In 2005, I found myself severely overweight and decided to finally do something about it. Friends at work were training for a local race and convinced me to join them. Prior to this, I was always the person who would say, “Yeah, I’ll run if someone is chasing me.” That statement soon changed, and within a few months, I had shed nearly 50 pounds and was entered into my first race. A 10-mile road race, no less. I was eating better, feeling better and completely transformed my body and my life.
I always look back on that time fondly. That time reminds me of where I am today. Still a runner, albeit not as consistent, but still a runner nonetheless.
Recently someone close to me inquired about a hamstring injury that I suffered as the result of overzealous attempts to waterski this past August. The hamstring is tender, torn and stretched, but as the result of the concern shown, I finally went to the doc to have it checked out. (FYI: nurses truly ARE the worst patients). Turns out the hamstring will get a little PT, an ultrasound and perhaps a little electrical stimulation to see just how damaged it is. Honestly, if the inquirer hadn’t been so persistent, I would have most likely put off any visit altogether, but there was always that little voice…..
“We need to get you healthy, so you can run again and keep running.”
Only when I view myself through the eyes of those closest to me do I really get it. Yeah. I AM a runner. It IS what I do. It’s not about a stupid necklace, but about a state of mind, a state of being and a lifestyle that means more to me than anything else. This body has endured six marathons, a handful of half marathons, 15Ks, 10Ks and 5Ks. I can’t let her down now. She has more left in the tank. There are more marathons just waiting to be tackled.
So, I suppose if I’m gonna continue to wear my beloved necklace, I gotta walk the walk, talk the talk and
Run the run.