This weekend I finished my first half marathon. At the end of the race I didn’t feel triumphant or accomplished. I felt exhausted and slightly nauseous.
I’ve never been a runner. In fact, I can say with almost absolute certainty it is NOT one of my favorite things to do. My knees hurt, my feet hurt, sometimes my back hurts. My lungs burn, my hands swell, and my nose runs. If it’s warmer than fifty I get seriously close to having a heat stroke. If there’s snow or ice on the ground (to which there’s been both throughout my entire winter training season) my stride changes causing more joint pain and the possibility of busting my tushie on the asphalt. But can I call myself a runner? Why? Because I run? I joined a running group with some BAMR’s (Bad A** Mother Runners) who for all intents and purposes are psycho in their ability to get out in negative wind-chill temperatures, run a 5k or two, at zero-dark thirty in the morning. I am clearly not a BAMR. But am I a runner?
I had to ask that of myself today, three days after my race, as I watch the BAMR’s sign-up for their next races or chat excitedly about the ultra-marathon their about to run, or the PR they hope to break (I believe that is personal record…I still don’t understand all of their acronyms or terminology. What the heck is a fartlek???). But as I crossed the finish line, no, as I pounded the hills, I asked myself, “Would I ever do this again?”
A comparison has been made between running and writing. There’s a period of self-convincing. Can I do it? Do I want to do? I’ve never done it before. What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? Then there’s the training. For runners it’s short runs, intervals, sprints, long runs, and cross training. For writers it’s courses, books on writing, critique groups, writing short stories, long stories, any stories, and reading. You may not see similarities in the two but the pain of receiving a marked up manuscript is as real as a pulled hamstring. I assure you.
At the end of it all I ask myself the same thing. Am I a writer? What I’ve learned is that I am both. A writer and a runner. Because what makes me a writer is my drive to sit down in a chair and type for several hours a day and then do it again the next day only to have to rewrite, delete, or throw out everything I just did. I’m a writer because I dream about my characters and think about where they came from, what their struggles are and how they are going to overcome the challenges I throw at them. I’m a writer because the thrill of writing story is so overwhelming within me that to not write would be close to not breathing.
And I’m a runner because I spend hours a day in a chair typing with a very bad habit of
snacking on jellybeans, or Girl Scout cookies, or Halloween candy. I’m a runner because with each stride I take my thoughts become clear and I can see characterization develop. Dialogue forming. Plot thickening. I’m a runner because the perseverance it takes to run a mile, a 5k, 10k, or 13.1 miles requires dedication. It requires heart.
Am I a runner? Yes! Am I a writer? Yes! But more than that, I’m a person who is dedicated to being strong, persevering, and thriving when the dreams of written word become reality with every keystroke.
*****What are you dreams? Struggles? Do you want to know the biggest secret in achieving your goals and dreams or overcoming your struggles? A cheerleader, or two, or three!! Who are your biggest supporters? Give them a shout out in the comment section!!