This morning, in the cool, foggy London-like air in Chicago, I hit a total of 500 miles run. (I had publicly shared the 300 miles run mark back in July of 2013.) When I hit 300 I reflected on the fact that I never thought I would enjoy running, but I came around and gave my mind and body the respect they deserved for this. I also said more than a few things about numbers.
There's a part of me that is disappointed that 500 didn't happen sooner, to be honest with you. There is a part of me that really wanted to be farther along by now according to some invisible measurement that I totally made up. That part doesn't see this as enough.
However, there are plenty other parts of me, and frankly those closest to my true self, that are very proud of this. (I mean, I'm writing a blog post about it.) Over the past 200 miles, the thing I struggled with was this: at what point do I no longer call myself a runner because I haven't run “enough”?
Last July, I had my biggest running month ever and I capped it with my fastest 5k ever – all done outside. But after that, I mostly stopped running until this year. I talked about being a runner. I ran a couple times a month, maybe. Yet there was that very real struggle inside of me, and I wrote a bit about it. I was not wanting to be seen as a phony baloney, or someone who used to do something and no longer did, but still wanted all of the fringe benefits of it. But this is something that, for now, is a part of who I am. It has been this way for about five years now.
This month's runs have been landing more in that fun space I wanted to explore. A few days ago, my bus to work zoomed by a large park in my neighborhood. I found myself thinking, “It'd be a lot of fun to run over there.” So that's where I've been running. And I've been paying attention to my breathing, my endurance, my pace. Noticing that my pace is back around 9 minutes per mile, nearly at my peak. Noticing that my endurance is coming back. Noticing that the so-called runner's high afterwards feels really, really good.
So when I finished my regular run this morning and saw the overall counter at 499.3, I had a brief choice to make. Do I call it a day? I was kinda tired, and very sweaty, and just stopping sounded good. Or, I could knock off another .7 miles and get to a nice, fat round number – I knew I had it in me. I chose the latter. I did my best today.
I guess that makes me a runner after all.
Here's to the next 500 miles.