I’m going live today. I am posting my first blog. I’ve been writing here and there for a month now, but I haven’t been confident enough to go public. After all, finishing one marathon (which I managed to do last year) is a bucket list achievement, not an identity. Today, I finished my second marathon. Now I feel I can call myself a marathoner. I wasn’t fast or pretty. Still, I made it from the start line to the finish line, all 26.2 long miles.
If you want to get a sense of what that means, try this little experiment. Head out for a Sunday afternoon drive, hit the reset button on your car’s odometer, then drive the length of a marathon. You’ll be amazed just how far we marathoner’s can travel in a morning. I’m amazed.
I’m not a little sprite of a human being. I’m nowhere close to the superhuman specimens, with long strides and 10% body fat, that you’ll find on the cover of Runner’s World. In fact, though I’ve jogged for years, and I ran my first half marathon over four years ago, I’ve only ever referred to myself as a jogger. My first full marathon gave me the courage, the accomplishment, to own my new identity. (No, it isn’t my only, or even my primary, identity. I’m a mom, a wife, a believer, a teacher. But now I’m more too.) I am (gasp) a runner.
In this blog I’ll relay some of my experiences as a runner, and I’m going to focus on my below average status. I don’t do this because my self-esteem is in the toilet. On the contrary, I feel freaking awesome about myself. I just finished a marathon, for flip’s sake! I want to be entirely honest about how good it feels to be at the bottom of a heap that still sits on top of a much bigger heap. Approximately 1% of the population runs a marathon at some point in life. If I walked into a room filled with 200 random people, I would be likely to meet just one other marathoner. Who cares if that person is probably twice as fast as me? I’m gonna gaze around at the other 198 people who haven’t finished a marathon, and my self-esteem will balloon.
So why all the self-deprecation? Why all the talk about how slow and heavy and ugly with sweat I am when I run? Because I want to focus on how easy...probably the wrong word...how doable being part of that elite class--Marathoner--is. I don’t look like a part of the 1%, but I am. So maybe a few of you could be too. For most of my life, I didn’t participate in sport or exercise of any kind. My parents encouraged, supported, and paid for opportunities for me as a kid. However, when I hit puberty and gained a little weight, and a heavy sense of shame, I figured such things were not for someone like me. How happy I am to know I was wrong! Exercise is for everyone.
If I have an ulterior motive, besides the obvious glory I’m heaping on myself, it is that I’d love to see more runners like me out there. We have more blob than bounce in our butts, and our abs resemble the jiggle of jello not a six-pack. But if I can do it, maybe so can you. I’m done leaving the thrill of victory to the jocks and gym rats; I want to lead an army of fat marathoners!
Oh, and in case you are wondering, I ran my first marathon (Top of Utah, September 2010) in 5:00:43; I ran my second marathon, (Colorado Marathon, May 2011) in 4:46:21. Go me!