I ran occasionally and infrequently for years. Whether it was enjoyable or just something I did to get my body moving, I’m still not sure. I remember wanting to be a runner because some of them looked so graceful out there pounding the pavement. Seeing the final two-tenths of the Boston Marathon in 2008 filled me with a passion to run that I’ve seldom had about anything in my life. After a few false starts, I made it a regular thing. There were a good few years and then a giant hiccup and over two years of injury.
This path has been littered with the ghosts of relationships; with others and the one I have with myself. Much like a writers block, my running suffered when I wasn’t confronting issues.
The realization in January that I had finally given up the ghost on the bullshit I used to think about myself is what really turned around my running (and my writing).
I remember thinking after the injury happened, “what if I can never run again?” and being terrified. My identity was so tied up in being a runner, and it’s one of the few labels I will put on myself beside human being. I never felt defined by my gender or sexual orientation in the way that so many people do, or an artist as my educational background would predispose me to… but runner? That was the label I so wanted to wear outwardly. That was such a big part of my identity and when I couldn’t run, I wondered could I still talk about running or call myself a runner. Could I identify and label myself a runner if I wasn’t actually lacing up my shoes on a regular basis?
My identity being so caught up with this one small percentage of my life could be so silly to most, but I’m proud to call myself a runner. I love the miles even when I hate them and when my body hurts and when I question my own sanity for signing up for a race.
So I’m not the most graceful runner, nor am I fast, but I’m grateful and for now, that is enough.