I Don’t Run, I’m a Runner
“I’m a runner,” I said. “What?” Ashley responded. “I finally consider myself a runner,” I said with a smile.
I’ve enjoyed running for all of my life. Way back in elementary school I would look forward to doing the mile run as part of The Presidential Fitness Test. The best time meant that your name would be added to a plaque on a wall of the gym. My name was, and could possibly still be there for all I know. Throughout middle school and high school, I would challenge myself, always striving to improve on my fastest mile.
Later on, my running became a hobby, a way to get out there and get some exercise. It also became a way to expend built up energy, in addition to clearing my mind. But all along, when people would ask about my running, I would respond with a simple, “I run.” Yes, I run often. Yes, I have dedicated running gear. Yes, I belong to a running group. Yet I had never really considered myself a runner.
So what changed? Years ago, on New Year’s Eve, I happened to stumble upon the Midnight Run held in Central Park. The run is held yearly by the NYRR. (New York Road Runners) I looked in awe as thousands of runners danced to live music to keep warm until the start of the race. They were all laughing, dancing and having a great time. It was right there that I told myself that I would take part in this race sometime soon.
Each subsequent New Years eve turned out to be filled with fun parties, or some sort of get-together. Yet I always had the thought of taking part in the midnight run. So this year, I decided to skip a party and crazily head out to the city at 8pm on New Year’s eve. I looked like a crazy person, decked out in running gear while the other Metro North riders from Connecticut were all decked out in fancy party regalia.
Leaving Grand Central Terminal turned out to be a fun experience. People would stop me and ask me if I was taking part in the race. I even had some New York City cops stop me on the sidewalk to wish me luck. The atmosphere became more fun as I noticed many more runners beginning to gather near the park.
In Central Park, I met two Polish brothers who had come all the way from Chicago to take part in the race. I also met two cute Brazilian women who hung out with me until midnight. The race turned out to be a challenging four miles due to the hilly terrain. The race was fun, featured many wild characters dressed in costumes and was attended by thousands of people who cheered us runners on from the sidewalk. Somehow at the end I managed to post a respectable time.
On the train ride home, I reflected on my crazy night which started out in Connecticut, continued in Manhattan, and saw me in bed by 4am after a four mile run in the middle of winter. The fact that I went out of my way to attend such a race, experience the fun, and take on the course with complete strangers finally convinced me to call myself a runner. Yes, I’ve always been a runner. I just needed to convince myself that I was worthy of the label.
So I want you, the reader to reflect on your hobby, your pastime, or your activities and see if you label yourself a train collector, a cook, or a runner, like myself. You might label yourself as someone who collects trains, someone who cooks, or just someone who runs. But in reality, if you’re passionate about the things you do, and they bring joy and satisfaction to you, you are definitely worthy of the label.
Ever experience something like this? A sudden realization that you are defined by all the different aspects of your life, personality and actions? Leave a comment below!