Monday, September 2, 2013

Am I a "real" runner?

We recently returned to St Thomas after a few weeks in Michigan to visit family. I have to admit that I wasn't very serious about running while on vacation. I did manage to get in my three long runs during that trip. I needed to have run more, but I didn't. Back to St Thomas. I'm facing the realities again that I have to train here in this oven. Eventually I will have to run 20 miles here. I keep telling myself that it will be OK. But I need to get out there and run. Period. I have no more excuses. I've written about the heat, the humidity, the lack of running routes, etc. Nobody wants to hear about that anymore. It can be done. People from St Thomas run in marathons. They find a way.

My problem is that I keep telling myself "you are not a real runner."

On Sunday I was supposed to run 10 miles. I ended up running 9.8 miles. I just felt that I couldn't go any farther. I ran with my friend Charlotte. She has great form, runs a faster pace and just simply looks like a runner. I run next to her complaining about everything. I blame my slow pace on the heat, the humidity, the road, my shoes, my clothes, the sidewalk, that small hill, my excessive dehydration that is one minute from killing me; I just complain.

Am I a real runner? A real runner is someone who runs regardless of...well, anything. They run, without complaining, while on vacation, in rain, heat, humidity, snow, sore legs, etc. They enthusiastically say things like:

"I just HAVE to run!"
"Running makes me sane!"
"Running is my life!"

I have never said those things.

A real runner reads books about running and nutrition. A real runner definitely has a pace of less than 10 minutes. A real runner has at least one black toenail and several blisters.

Nope, this doesn't describe me, either. Must not be a real runner.

Ok, I just need to shut up.

This morning, I finally got frustrated about this. I have to stop that inner negative voice that seeps out to bring me down. I have to stop complaining, comparing, compromising, cursing...etc. I am a real runner. So what if one of the reasons I run is so I can justify a second (or third) glass of wine or a bigger piece of pizza because I'm carb-loading. I still get out there and run. I run because I love the feeling I have AFTER I am finished. I feel alive and healthy...sore, but alive. I love how my body is changing, getting stronger. Even after bitching and moaning at 5:30 a.m., I still get out there and run. I wish I had that "rah rah" cheerleader feeling in the morning when I have to get up; I just don't. But that's OK because I still run. I'll never qualify for Boston, but that's fine.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am running the NYC Marathon to raise awareness of aortic aneurysms and dissection. I am running to inspire people to donate money to the John Ritter Foundation. But I am also running this marathon as a gift to my family and to myself on my 42nd birthday. I'm running because four years ago as I was slowly pushing a wheelchair holding my oxygen tank around my little section at the hospital, I wondered if I would ever cross "run a marathon" off my bucket list. Really, I did think about that. I remember kind of laughing about it because it seemed impossible. Back then I could barely move the little ball up in my incentive spirometer (Google it!). Today, a 10 mile run is now considered a "short" run. Instead of beating myself up about my slow pace, I need to feel a sense of accomplishment for where I am today.

I'm running whereas a lot of people do not run. Some people will tell me things like, "you are crazy...26 miles is FAR!" They are right! But I'm in this thing to finish. I'm in it to celebrate life. I'm in it for a cause. I'm in it for more than just crossing off a bucket list item. Am I already planning my next marathon?? Hell no! ;-) But I will continue to run after the marathon...for exercise, to justify carb-loading and that third glass of wine, and I will run because I can.

I guess at the end of the day, I am a real runner just because I run.

Here are some pictures of my running route downtown. Narrow sidewalks at times. But at least there are sidewalks!


  1. Hi newbie,
    It sounds to me like you are indeed a real runner, and you're doing just fine. I've been at it a very long time and often have the same doubts. I'm the grand dad of cardiac athletes movement, had an aortic valve replacement in 1991 and have since run tens of thousands of miles and hundreds of races. It never gets any easier, but you do gain confidence with each event.


  2. Hi Amy,

    Just found your blog - LOVE it!!!! Yes of course you're a real runner!!! I had my surgery about two years ago to replace my BAV and repair my AA - I just ran my first half (since surgery) last weekend - COOL!

    I live in Michigan - so I know what it's like when you talk about being too hot in St. Thomas....all those thoughts cross my mind too....and I'm in Michigan!!!! LOL

    Keep writing and keep running girl!!!