Wednesday, November 5, 2008

He doesn't look like a runner

"He doesn't look like a runner, good for him"

That comment was made to me yesterday by a good friend. At the time I didn't think anything of it, in fact I thought it a nice compliment. Then I thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it some more.

Flash back, well more years than I care to admit, to Willie in High School. I ran cross country and track since the 7th grade. I was hooked at an early age and I was pretty good too. It was the only sport that I had any success with and I took a lot of pride in the fact that I was a runner. In my Sophmore year my gym teacher/track coach/football coach pulled me aside and said, "You're too big to be a long distance runner, you should come play tight-end for me." Well I was crushed. At the time I actually respected this guy and looked up to him and here he was telling me that I didn't have the correct body to do what I really wanted to do. I had always known that I was heavier and bigger than the elite runners. I wasn't a skinny little bean-pole like the runners that won the state meets and that I saw on TV. But I was also pretty good at this running thing and had won a few meets in my time. None of that mattered to a young, impressionable, still forming my self-image Willie though. My whole world came crashing down! Was I just wasting my time at this running thing? Should I change gears and try something that "everyone else" thought I would be better at?

I didn't stop running because of that comment but I did struggle with my self image for many, many years. In some ways I still do I guess since I'm writing this entry! Eventually I came to what is probably an unhealthy attitude toward it. "Screw you if you don't think I'm built like a runner, I know I'm not! Bite me!" If I want to run I'll run, and I apply that to everyone else equally. So when I heard that comment yesterday I should have responded, I feel like I owe it to all of us non-runner-built runners out there. Are the only "real" runners the ones who race at 4 min/mile and weigh 90 pounds?? If you don't fit that mold you're not a runner? Fuck that! A runner is anyone who, well, runs! That's really the only requirement. If you get out there and put one foot in front of the other you have joined that small, elite club of athletes who should be respectfully called "runners". You can kiss my big-boned ass if you think otherwise, I don't care, I'll be out running.

{Willie steps down from his soapbox}

Tuesday was speedwork. I got home from work late and was informed that our waterline had burst out by the sidewalk that the city had just rebuilt. Gee, I wonder how that could have happened??!?! The city says it's just a coincidence and that it's my responsibility. I'm obviously stupid because I feel differently. Go figure!

Oh yea, speedwork. So I hit the track late and the sun was almost set by the time I started. I ran an 800m warmup and then did my 1 mile, 2x800m, 1 mile workout. I did them all at 6:20 pace and it didn't hurt too much. I did feel tired and struggled to keep my focus but I got it done. As I was finishing I noticed a security vehicle looking around my truck. I got over to talk with him and he said I was about to be locked into the track parking lot and I needed to leave NOW! Ok, don't have to tell Willie twice! I'm outta here. So I left.

Oh the plumber just showed up. Gotta go, I'll finish this later.

Ok I'm back. Bad thunderstorms are overhead so I told the plumber he can wait until tomorrow to fix the leak. Don't want him working in the rain/hail/tornados. I know, I'm nice like that.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, How could I forget this!!!

Paula Wins (another) NY City Marathon!

She is amazing. One day she will wake up and figure out that Oklahoma is so much better than England. I just know it. Is stalking illegal in England? Maybe it's not even considered stalking over there? One day I will go see her run live. It's now on my to-do list. Maybe I'll run London next year! She says she wants to challenge her marathon world record at that race, I could pace her (for a few yards)!

Oh it's nice to dream. Now let's wake up and go separate the children before they kill each other or tear my house down. Is it bad when they chase each other around with clubs and I hear breaking glass coming from the other room? No crying yet..... Maybe I can keep blogging until I hear some. Here are some sounds from Willie's house tonight: Is that blood? Get your brother down! Don't bend his arm like that! "I didn't do it". Ouch! Daddy! Bang! Dad do we have any Bandages?

Oh the joy of boys.

P.S. Honey if you're reading this I'm exaggerating, the boys are fine..... sorta.

Thanks for listening.


Reese said...

I was wondering when you would mention Paula's victory. And it's funny that you assure your wife that the kids are ok, but make no effort say you're kidding about Paula. And to the "looking like a runner," comment, when I see your back fading into the distance, you look like a runner to me.

Calyx Meredith said...

I agree with Reese's comment - you most definitely look like a runner to me - but I love that you posted about the damage someone's projection can cause! It's stunning to me that anyone could have said that to you. Ever. (Sure would hate to hear what someone like that would say to short, curvy, slow me!) Thank you for sharing your internal struggle and pushback - it helps me get stronger with my own. Peace.

JenZen said...

The one thing I have learned from all the races I've done is that there is no true definition of what a "runner" looks like. They come in all shapes and sizes and that is why I LOVE this sport. ANYONE with a desire to put one foot in front of the other can be a runner.

I can totally feel your pain. I struggled with sports as a kid. Bad coaches (REALLY bad coaches) pretty much convinced me that I was non-athletic and should "stick with the books thing". I dropped all sports and didn't start running until much later in life to help cope with a bad break-up. Some friends encouraged me to try to run a half marathon and from that race I became HOOKED. I love the sense of self worth and accomplishment I get from running.

I really wish there was some "asshole" screening process for coaches in education. So often, they do so much more damage than good.

But on my own, I broke out of that "non-athletic" mold and am proud to declare myself as a runner.

Great post!

Oh and ryc: Brooks are great, but the toe box is too wide for my foot. Maybe I just need to go down a size....