Looking the part.
About a week ago I found myself standing with a colleague (who is also running Boston) and another man. It came up in conversation that we were both running the marathon and the man looked the two of us over (She happens to be incredibly long and lean) and then turned to her and said “Well, you look like a marathoner”. I instantly felt my face turn 15 shades of pink. I tend to reaction to situations like this in one of two ways: I either immediately spit out whatever slides onto my tongue, or I pinch my arm and keep quiet. I chose to go with the small bruise inside my elbow.
Of course when I replayed the scenario to my husband later that day I was all riled up. “How could he say that? How could he make that kind of comment? And what does HE know?!”
“Exactly babe” replied my always calm, always rational husband. “What does he know? You’d probably lose him in the first mile.”
It occurred to me then that after 2.5 years, 4 half marathons and a few dozen race bibs later, I STILL feel like I have to prove myself as a runner. But why?
The thing about runners is that you never know their full story. When you drive past someone chugging down the street you don’t know if they’re a quarter of a mile into their run or if they’re pushing through the last of 12 miles. Unless it’s tattooed on their body you don’t know how many marathons or 5Ks a person’s completed. You don’t know if they started running a week ago or if they’ve been a runner their whole life. The person you judge at the start line could pass you on that hill in the last mile. You just never know.
So I guess I have to let it go and cut the guy some slack. He has no idea that I am (about to be) a marathoner. He hasn’t seen me push through a double digit run, legs aching but determined not to quit. He couldn’t see the definition in my legs, the muscles I’m starting to discover. He didn’t get to look at my weekly schedule which besides running includes strength training, yoga, chiropractor visits, and swimming – all just to get me to the start line healthy. He hasn’t seen my feet, which are starting to require a larger than normal tip at the nail salon. He didn’t get to the hear the conversations that go back and forth in my head on a daily basis “Can you do this? You can totally do this. Are you crazy? You can’t do this!” He doesn’t know that 50% of the time even I’m not quite sure I look like a marathoner.
At the end of the day I don’t need to look like a marathoner to anyone but myself. And even if I don’t see it at times, I feel it inside of me. I feel that desire to push myself further, to run new distances that both excite and frighten me at the very same time, to see my feet cross that finish line, to feel that medal slide over my head.
And don’t worry buddy, after April 20th it will be hard to see me and NOT know that I just ran 26.2 miles. 😛