Real Runners are Just That

I told myself I would contemplate the “I’m not a real runner” quote as I ran my half-marathon this past weekend (I’m Not a Real Runner). So I let the question roll around in my mind for a couple of days–while camping, during the 13 mile run, and at the post-race party and awards.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t run many races, but when I do, I invariably encounter and interact with many members of my local running club. I started running about five years ago and joined the running club about a year after that. I was nervous, for sure. I didn’t know much about running in general and I knew nothing of running clubs. What did they do? Did they all go out and run together? It was going to be impossible for me to run with a group, to move along at their speed and stay with them. At the time, I didn’t realize that there are several different paces within any group of runners. I thought it would be their pace–the pace of the group–and my pace. But I heard about it and I wanted to meet some other runners and I wanted to stay motivated, so I showed up, out of the blue one evening, to a weekly trail run.

I think it may be the bravest thing I’ve ever done.


Race Morning

I awoke the morning of the race (I call it a race, but I think of it and treat it as just another run) cozy between two down comforters. The temperature was to be 29 overnight and there was no reason for it to be anything but that in the camper. An alarm was set, but that’s not what woke me. The dogs danced around the linoleum floor, antsy to get outside. And pre-race music was already cranked up and making its way across the river.

Well holy moly me oh my

You’re the apple of my eye

Girl I’ve never loved one like you

Man o man you’re my best friend

I scream it to the nothingness

There ain’t nothing that I need  (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Home)

We were camped just past Dewey Bridge, which is where The Other Half half-marathon starts. Most runners were in town, at the other end of the canyon, and awoke much earlier than I to take a shuttle bus to the start of the run. Camping near the start eliminates that. Plus, for me, this weekend is just as much about the camping as it is about the race.


I’m Not a Real Runner

This weekend I will drive to Moab, Utah and run a half-marathon called The Other Half. The course starts at the top of a canyon carved by the Colorado River and ends, 13.1 miles later, at a beautiful guest ranch situated along the river among red rock buttes and towering spires. I’ll incorporate a night of camping into the trip. It’s the perfect time of year to be in the desert country of Utah, no longer too hot and not yet cold.

Sorrel River Ranch

Photo credit:

While packing a bit ago, I realized a couple of things. First, I’ve been blogging for nearly four months now and I have yet to write about running. I don’t even think I’ve mentioned that I’m a runner. In fact, I know I haven’t. I may have hinted that I go out running sometimes, but to have referred to myself as a runner? No.

I cut this quote from a running magazine a few years back and it’s still stapled to a bulletin board in my office:

I often hear people say, “I’m not a real runner.” We are all runners, some just run faster than others, that’s all. I have never met a fake runner. –Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer

This quote hit home with me then and it’s still relevant today.

Another thing I realized tonight is that I can replace the word runner and the word faster in that quote and it becomes meaningful in other areas of my life as well.

For example:

I often hear people say, “I’m not a real writer.” We are all writers, some just write more often and with greater impact, that’s all. I have never met a fake writer.”

I’ve written two books and I’m blogging and I’m working on a memoir and I love the process of writing, but still I do not consider myself a real writer. A real writer is someone like my daughter. A couple of days ago I reminded her that she better get busy on her personal essay for her college applications. She grudgingly agreed and worked on it for a couple of hours and then said, “Okay, do you want to hear it? It’s just a rough draft, but I think it might be a good start.” And she proceeded to read this incredible orchestration of emotional, passionate words that showed, beyond a doubt, how deeply and fully she has grown and now understands herself, her strengths, and how she fits into this world. I struggle to even describe the beauty of that essay and how it touched me. And I could never write anything near that significant. She is an emotional being and can easily bring that into her writing. I, on the other hand… well, I’m not a real writer. I can’t do it like she does and I’m sure I’ll never be able to.

I often hear people say, “I’m not a real musician.” We are all musicians, some just create their own music, that’s all. I have never met a fake musician.”

I took piano lessons for nine years growing up, ages 9 to 18. I also played the flute and the oboe. I quit playing the piano when I went to college, when I found myself among real musicians. Surely I wasn’t in the same league as they were. And then there’s my brother. He took a couple of months of piano lessons as a kid. That’s it. But he picked up a guitar in high school and taught himself to play. He can’t read a lick of music, but he can listen to any song and pick it out on his guitar and have it sounding like the real thing in a matter of hours. Or, he’ll just write his own songs. I don’t have an ear. I can’t play anything unless I read the music. I think you’ll agree, he’s the real musician.

I often hear people say, “I’m not a real cook.” We are all cooks, some just put care and time into it, that’s all. I have never met a fake cook.

Well, then, let me introduce myself.

The running quote will be on my mind this weekend. I’ve run this race a few times before and I always have mixed emotions afterwards. I’ll have a few hours to contemplate this as I trot down the canyon and a few more on the way home as I leave Utah and cross back into Colorado. I hope to think through these feelings more deeply this time and come to some newer, and truer, realizations.

If I do, I’ll get back to you.

Running The Other Half in October 2011.

Running The Other Half in October 2011.