Today marks the halfway point for my Six Mile July Challenge. It was a little painful at first, but I've learned over the last two weeks how to balance running with walking so that I am not crying from shin splints and runner's knee. Overall, I have found it to be easier than I expected. It's become part of my routine; just like I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I also do my 6 miles.
While I have no trouble finding a purpose for running, (speed, distance, conquering hills...) I find walking to be so slow, that after noting all the minute details of my neighbors' homes, I was lacking a purpose. In an effort to put some purpose behind my walks, I have done some berry picking. Conveniently, all the wild raspberries in and around my town have ripened over the last few weeks! My many adventures on various trails and back country roads have led to an extensive knowledge of prime berry-picking locations, and I've been enjoying these on cereal in the morning.
Aside from enriching my breakfast, all this walking and running has apparently made me a bit faster than I was before. This weekend I participated in a 5K race whose starting and finish line were within walking distance of my front door. I hoped I could run as fast as I did in the last race I ran, which took place six weeks ago. It was much hotter this weekend, but I still had high hopes. I pushed hard, and as I ran toward the finish line, the clock came into view- I couldn't believe what I saw. I finished the race in a personal best time- beating my time from six weeks ago by more than a minute! I can't describe how good that felt, the only thing that would have made me happier was winning the whole race- but I'm not that fast...yet.
Since the race, I've been thinking about a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago. When I told her about my Six Mile July Challenge, and asked her if she wanted to do a run with me along the piers in NYC where we were for the weekend, she commented that I've become one of 'those people', meaning one of those crazy runner people. Normally I don't appreciate being called crazy, but this was an ultimate compliment. Me? A real runner? Could it be that I have reached the level of not just being a person who runs, but one of those runner people who are defined by their love of running? Yes, I think I have. After all, I have been doing this for nearly three years. When I'm asked by anyone what I 'do', I start with my profession, and the next thing out of my mouth is, "I run."
I'm not sure at what level of dedication I get to call myself a real runner, but it is definitely a defining part of me. I love running more than I have loved any hobby, probably because running is more than a hobby, it's a way of life...Or at least that's what the crazy runner people are saying.
Hope. Love. Run!