I’ve been debating writing this post for many reasons, and the main reason being the fact that so many people have already touched on it lately. (It may even begin to feel like we’re beating a dead horse here.) Yet, it sits in the back of my mind, because I have personally experienced it. I’m finding it hard to figure out where to start on this topic, so I’ll just start it bluntly.
People who steal the glory out of anyone’s accomplishments really piss me off.
About a week ago, I ran my first half marathon in an official, sponsored race. The Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series made my first 13.1 an incredibly fun and unforgettable experience, and it’s a day I have been replaying in my head for a week. However, for a few weeks prior to my big race and even for several days after, I noticed comments, tweets, and blog posts regarding what makes a runner a runner…what miles count or don’t count…who’s really a half marathoner and who’s not. Do you know how discouraging that can be!? It has made me doubt myself before, and it’s made me wonder if walking just for a few seconds makes me less of a runner than someone else. Luckily, I’ve grown so much as a runner over the past year that I’ve learned that it doesn’t take a certain time or distance to make you a runner. I’ve learned that the initial feeling of not being worthy of calling yourself a runner comes from the negativity surrounding the entitlement of others, and that’s got to stop. I’ve made myself clear on the topic of what makes someone an athlete before, and I’m getting sick and tired of other people stealing the glory out of others’ accomplishments.
Miles are miles, people. My legs, your legs, her legs, his legs…they all do the same amount of work to log those miles. We all face our days of terrible runs, perfect runs, and mental runs. We’re all our own biggest critics…until someone else decides to take steal the reigns on that job. Someone goes and opens his or her mouth regarding whose miles are more “official”, and what should be the amazing feeling of being healthy and fit and able becomes the feeling of doubt and unworthiness. Let me ask you something: if I ran a race, wearing an official race bib, and you ran the same race with me, just unregistered and as a running buddy, do you honestly think I’m going to look at you and tell you that you’re not really a half marathoner because you didn’t wear a bib?? Do you think I’m going to forget the fact that you just ran the same miles as me? No. A bib, a medal, and a finisher’s certificate do not make you more of a runner than someone who doesn’t own them, and just because someone doesn’t own them doesn’t mean they haven’t earned them.
So where in the world do people get the audacity to turn around and consider someone’s hard-earned miles “null” because they can’t pull up their official time on a website? Where does this entitlement come from? Why do people have the nerve to shoot others down? Shame on you. Race, no race, slow or fast, we all come from the same place: the first step.
There’s another side to the story, too, though. It’s almost the exact opposite of the “I race, therefore I am better than you” perspective. It’s the “I don’t need that shit” perspective. I realize that the larger, sponsored races are expensive. (If it weren’t for the help of two amazing moms, I couldn’t have afforded to make it to Chicago. Just a little FYI. I am in school and I am a stay-at-home-mom.) I realize that many runners don’t live in an area that have half marathon races to run, so being in a race would require travel – additional expenses and even more time. I realize that some of you don’t love the race atmosphere for various reasons – too competitive, too stressful, too crowded, too whatever. I personally love races for the mere fact that I’m surrounded by other runners. It’s a change from solitary runs, and I love the atmosphere!
But let me set something straight – just because I race, it doesn’t mean I’m materialistic or whatever you consider “one of them”. Not all racers are in it for the “bling”, the photos, the official times, or the grandeur. If you’re finding that you can’t or won’t attend a race for whatever reason, it’s just as wrong to turn around and steal the glory from those that can and have. What makes you think that racers require all of those things? Sure they’re awesome! I love my medal! I couldn’t take my eyes off of it, and it wasn’t because it sparkled. It was because I earned that bad boy! I worked my ass off for it! I loved the feeling of sprinting to the finish line, despite the pain I’d been in, and having people cheering for me and taking photos. But, is it a requirement for me to feel like a runner? No. Does it make me pompous? No. Should I be put in a category of people who have to have those things in order to feel like a runner? Absolutely not. Don’t take your personal (and very legitimate) reasons for not running a race and “justify” them by saying you don’t need all of the above in order to feel like a runner. It makes those of us who have run a race feel like materialistic assholes – like you should be placed on a pedestal for not requiring anything more than shoes and pavement. Neither do I, trust me. Most racers don’t, actually, and the ones that do and walk around rubbing it in are the same ones that probably tell others that they’re not runners until they race.
We all work damn hard for the miles we put on our legs. We all share common traits: determination, perseverance, patience, and strength. Run your runs. Log your 5K’s, your 10K’s, your half, full, or ultra marathons. Bask in the glory of what you’ve accomplished, because you deserve it!!! Running is hard work and requires more than a pair of good shoes and the ability to move. Yes, there are situations that set some runners (or any athlete) apart from others…that’s why they’re called elite athletes or Olympians. (Would you call the Olympian that placed 4th less than a runner than the guy that placed 1st? Would the 4th place Olympian say “I don’t need that shit anyway” after losing to the top 3? I didn’t think so.) Play nice, guys. Play nice. We’re all in this for the same reason.
It’s too bad we can’t just put an end to the poor sportsmanship. I am constantly inspired by other people, whether they race or don’t race, win or lose, whatever. Their accomplishments bring me joy. There is glory in everything we accomplish and on whatever terms we chose to accomplish them, and remember: