Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Running with Pride

My struggle to be a faster and more consistent runner is nothing new.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have been a runner for 25 years and am in no way a beginner.  I've come to terms with the fact that I'm not going to win races (even though occasionally at less popular races I have placed in my age group).  No one is going to mistake me for a runner when they just see me walking down the street.  On a day when I'm wearing shorts they might notice my muscular legs and think that I workout but my 40 inch waist and big boobs make me look more like a burlesque dancer than a runner.  

In the fall I took a leap of faith and responded to a post about women in my area looking for running partners.  My closest friends have always been men.  I have struggled to make a connection with women for my entire life.  Most women I meet aren't interested in the same things that I am and I tire of their company pretty quickly.  When I first moved to Syracuse I joined a few groups in meetup and through them developed a social life.  I now know a lot of women but I would consider very few of them friends and, outside of meetup activities, don't spend time with them.  

I was very nervous the first day I went to meet my new running partner.  Was she going to be skinny?  Fast? Was she going to be shocked that someone that looked like me responded to her post?  What were we going to talk about for three miles?  Was she going to talk about her kids the whole time?  Would I be able to run and talk? Would I feel okay running without my Ipod?

Kellie and I hit it off right away.  She looked as nervous as I was.  We had a great run and easy conversation.  There are definitely girly things about her that I don't enjoy but I don't let those things get to me.  Having a running partner is worth overlooking a few personality differences.  I know I'm not perfect and that there are plenty of things about me that people don't like but put up with.  I need to extend that same courtesy to other people instead of writing them off so quickly. 

I have run with Kellie once a week since Halloween.  We have not done a race together but we plan to next month.  My running pace has increased to a 10:45 mile for a 5K and stayed there.  I have not run at this pace since 2006.  A few years ago I blogged about my excitement about getting down to an 11:04 pace and my hope that I could get back under 11 minutes.  Now here I am and it happened fairly easily.

I make sure I run three days a week consistently now.  When I travel for work I use the hotel gym.  When the weather is bad I bundle up and brave the cold, snowy weather.  I used to drive pass those people running in arctic temperatures and think how great it must be to be so dedicated.  Now I have become one of those people.  I know that if I don't run during the week, my weekly run with Kellie on the weekend will not go well.  I don't want to hold her back.  

I am still struggling to lose weight but I am getting faster even though my weight hasn't changed.  Imagine how much easier running will be when I can finally get rid of the 20 lbs that I've gained over the past few years.  My joints won't ache.  My thighs won't rub together.  My biggest fear is that I'm going to develop a serious injury because of the stress my weight is putting on my joints.  But that's a different battle. Right now I'm basking in the glow of feeling like a runner again.

I have attended more running events in the past few months than I have in several years.  I have consistently run on my own and participated in road races but I never went to group runs or events at local athletic stores.  I always felt like people would judge me.  That a bunch of elite skinny runners would be in a room talking about their running experiences and I would sit in a corner by myself, left out.  Kellie and I have joined the local running club and attended these meetings together.  And even when Kellie went on vacation I attended these meetings by myself and I survived.  Yes, I felt uncomfortable and isolated at times but I also felt like I belonged.  

My confidence has increased as a result of this newly rekindled running passion.  I talk about running with elite runners without make self deprecating comments about my pace/size.  I accept that I will never be as fast as them but I have been running for just as long, if not longer, than they have and have a  lot to contribute to the conversation.  People recognized my face because I had been coming to events for months.  They accepted me as a runner and I guess, finally, so did I.        

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