Since my sophomore year of college, I've been defining myself as a runner.
My husband and I had been dating for about a year and a half when he suggested that we train for our first half marathon together.
"I could never do that," I told him. "No way."
Then, in May 2008, I did do it.
I haven't stopped running since.
I guess there is a bit of pride that comes with typing "Distance Runner" into an "About Me" section of a profile. I've always known that most people will never run a marathon, so that makes me one of the few. (That probably makes me more crazy than awesome.)
Part of me loves running because it is healthy and stress-relieving, but a bigger part of me has loved running for the way that it defines me.
Lately, I've been able to let some of that go. Yes, I am a distance runner. But that's not all that I am. I'm also a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking writer, momma, wife, student, business owner and friend. I am more than the sum of my parts.
This past weekend, I ran another half marathon. I stuck with my training for the most part. However, I also learned to listen to my body and to modify when necessary.
And it was all fine because sometimes, to be great at the other things that I am, I can be just an okay runner. I'm not less or more of a person because I did or didn't run for one day (or a few, or a lot).
All of the above is where my head was before the Prairie Fire Half Marathon last weekend.
At that race, I set a new PR. I had the run of my life. But about halfway through, because I was feeling strong, I decided to revise my longstanding goal of crossing the finish under 1 hour and 50 minutes. That goal was somehow not good enough anymore, and I started dreaming about a 1:47 time and about catching up with my friend who was a mile ahead. At mile 6.5, I threw my training out the window to compete against everyone else instead of against myself. It was also at mile 6.5 that the race was no longer fun. My final time was 1:49:44, and I finished 6th of 93 in my age group, but I was angry and disappointed.
I'm going to take a step back from running, which is uncharted and scary territory for me. I saw the number I've always wanted to see on the clock this past weekend, I saw my friends on the podium instead of me ... and I let those things tell me who I am. Until I've gained a healthier perspective and am able to appreciate running for what it is instead of who it makes me, I'll be on a break.
For everyone's sake, hopefully it won't be a long one. :)