For my 10 miler this evening, I chose a route that includes a well traveled country road. Usually, people pass on by without incident. Today, I was surprised when a truck slowed down. At first, I panicked a bit, but then saw it was a couple with three children, all looking very concerned. In broken English, the man said "You ok? You need help?" I replied, "I'm fine, thank you." Then, he said, "You car problems?" and motioned in the direction from which I'd run. I remembered there was a game warden vehicle parked on the side of the road. "No car problems," I answered, "I'm just going for a run." "You are running?" The man looks at me like I'm crazy. "Yes, I am, but thanks for stopping!" I took off running. The truck passed me with the entire family staring out the windows, the man shaking his head.
I was amused, and it got me thinking. I realize that we runners, especially ones who like the trails, are often looked upon as strange. I no longer mention to non-runners that Danni is going to run 100 miles this summer, or talk about long runs or upcoming races, because it normally starts the lecture of why long distance running is bad for a person. Next, the person usually asks "You don't want to run 100 miles, right?" Of course not, I say, because I don't want the inevitable knee discussion. How many times do I really need to hear that my knees are going to give out?
At the same time, I recognize that we runners are not always so fun to be around. Without realizing it, our running chatter can be a guilty reminder. Guilt for not exercising. Guilt for eating junk food. Guilt for the extra pounds put on over the winter. Guilt for perhaps just leading an unhealthy lifestyle. I've been there. I remember (pre-running days) watching people, usually from my own car window, looking all fit and trim as I gained the double freshman fifteen -except not in college, but after a couple years of marriage. I remember using 'The Beginning Runner's Handbook' and the difficulty it took to walk/run my way to a consistent 30 minutes of jogging. I remember several starts and stops due to discouragement from side aches, breathing problems and shin splints.
I have no idea when I officially became a "runner," and my thoughts today lead me to believe it doesn't really matter. I'm just glad it happened. I also need to remember not to try and "sell" the idea to others - I doubt that it's helpful. I can only hope that others out there might find something they really enjoy that might make them a healthier and happier person too.
On a completely unrelated note, I want to congratulate Frank on completing his doctoral thesis and nabbing a job in Massachusetts. And, congratulations to Melissa, his wife, who has waited so patiently for this day. I wish I was there to celebrate with you, but I'll call soon!