For a long time since I started running, I did not consider myself “a runner.”
To be a “runner” was to be one of a rare breed of elusive gazelle hoping gracefully around the world.
No, but in all seriousness, I thought my running didn’t count. Sure, I ran. Sure, I did races. But I wasn’t super fast. I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up doing track and cross country and knowing enough running terms to fill a dictionary. Funny thing is, when I tell people I’ve only been running 1.5 years, they’re surprised. Most people say they assumed I’d been running since high school.
I was just a girl who had discovered running and was passionate about it. I was just a girl who tried midfoot striking and realized that it worked for her. I was just a girl who realized she could run 1 mile so she ran another.
And that is enough.
There’s a simple test for whether or not you’re a runner. Ready for this?
Do you run? Yes? You’re a runner.
It doesn’t matter if you’re fast or slow. If you know what a fartlek is. If you have black toenails. If you run 10 miles a week or 80.
When did we make the identity of a runner based on performance? What happened to celebrating the joy of running? If you’re passionate about running, you’re a runner. Of course, that assumes that if you’re passionate about running, you’re actually going to run. Talking about running, thinking about running, dreaming about running, on it’s own, doesn’t count – although runners do have a tendency to do all of that too. If we’re not running, please, PLEASE, ask us about running. And then patiently listen as we talk your ear off. And then go out for a run. And then come back wanting to talk about how that run went.
Sometimes, I know I want pancakes for breakfast. Sometimes, though, I don’t know how I want to dress them up.
I’ve learned an important life lesson. When in doubt, do both!
My creations include:
1) Chocolate chip pancakes made with peanut butter swirled into the batter while they’re baking. Then, because you can never have too much peanut butter, heat up some peanut butter and drizzle it on top. Finally, top with chopped peanuts. It’s like a Reese’s in pancake form. Aka – it’s like heaven.
2) Ordinary pancakes made not so ordinary by adding sauteed pears, golden raisins, roasted pecans, unsweetened shredded coconut, and maple syrup.
Every time I had a bite of one, I’d think I preferred that type. Then I’d try the other and switch my mind. Then I’d go back to the other and switch again….. all until each delicious bite was gone.
On Tuesday, I didn’t feel like running my usual route. I ran about 3.1 miles of it, and then had a moment of inspiration. Kinda sick inspiration when I think about it now….
I generally run from Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, but Tuesday I decided to run UP THE MOUNTAIN. This was so hard and I went so slow. But that reminds me how with running, sometimes it doesn’t matter how fast you’re going. There are those days when the victory is lacing up your shoes again, when the victory is taking that extra step, when the victory is pacing each person walking up that mountain.
Plus, the view was gorgeous. And the run down the mountain was one of the most fun I’ve had in a while, despite my quivering legs.
Then on Wednesday I got to catch up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in about 2 weeks. Sometimes schedules just don’t overlap, but we were both missing each other and decided to make it work.
We went to Tijuana Garage, this cute Tex-Mex place that served chips in buckets! Hello carbo-loading….. Seriously though, salty tortilla chips are the best thing after a run. I inhaled these.
Then we split an order of fajitas, plus rice and beans. I always pack my fajitas too much, which means I end up looking like a 5-year-old with food spilling everywhere. But it also means that I look like a very HAPPY 5-year-old. There was also this cute fountain we sat by, and when the day darkened, festive lights came on. You wouldn’t think you were in Atlanta. It felt more like the Riverwalk in San Antonio, TX. Tijuana Garage was a perfect retreat mid-week.
By the time Friday rolled around, I had had a long week at work. So, keeping it classy for the evening, I treated myself to a St. Germain cocktail, some salmon, and a good book.
To make a St. Germain cocktail is really easy. Start with 2 parts (a part is an oz) dry white wine or champagne. Add 1.5 parts St. Germain (which is elderflower liqueur). Top with 2 parts club soda (the order matters), and stir. I didn’t have a lemon, but it should really be garnished with a lemon peel. (Note: don’t put in lemon juice. The juice dilutes the flavor, whereas the peel brings it all together).
For the salmon, I got really fancy. Simply take a filet and season it with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook it in a skillet on both sides, skin side up first. After turning it over, top with pesto. Simple, easy, and delicious.
I got a little more involved with my post-run sandwich today, but not much.
I put Dijon mustard on one side (a ton!) and Greek yogurt on the other (just enough to keep the bread moist). Then I layered in a mix of spinach and kale, red onions, and then enough beets to turn my teeth pink. I’m a firm believer in hot sandwiches, so I did this one on the stove top just long enough to turn the veggies tender and perfect. If you try this, it would be even better with some feta sprinkled in there, I just didn’t have any at the moment.
After eating this and popping in a load of laundry, I promptly fell asleep for 2 hours. That is a day done right.
Here in Atlanta, the AJC Peachtree Road Race is a big deal. Actually, across the nation it’s a big deal. It’s the largest 10K in the nation – averaging about 60,000 participants!
This summer marked my first….. hopefully of many!
But before the race comes the expo – and this expo did not disappoint. The beginning, where you picked up your packet, was marked out by a road-styled carpet. Forget the red carpet, this gets me more excited any day!
After picking up your packet, then the fun really begins. The expo is designed to mimic the race – there are start and finish signs, and mile markers too. Good thing there are plenty of samples of CorePower, coconut water, and frozen electrolytes to keep you going!
Not only is there running apparel and gear everywhere, but there are displays to help you get in the spirit – both of running and of America!
As if that weren’t enough, I got to meet Jeff Galloway!!
Jeff is well-known for his training programs, a lot of which feature a run/walk method to covering long distances. He’s 69 years old and has done over 200 marathons. That’s something to aspire to! Not to mention the fact that he is completely nice, down to earth, and helpful. If you’re in Atlanta around December 13, consider doing the inaugural JG half marathon! https://jeffgalloway131.com/
As for the race itself…….
When I woke up dark and early Saturday morning, I could hear the sounds of rain peppering the roof and filling the drain. For one brief, weak second, I thought, “I wouldn’t have to run.” Then the thought was banished by ten louder thoughts, including, “Of course I do,” “I already paid the race fee,” “I’ve been looking forward to this for months,” and “This will be my first race in the rain – what fun!” Particularly the last makes me question my sanity.
Still, if that’s insanity, then at least I’ve got some good company. Marta (Atlanta’s public transit system) was packed with red-white-and-blue-decked runners. Outfits ranged from running gear to tutus and costumes of George Washington. I don’t get bored while running a race, but if you were to do so, it would be impossible at this one.
PRs are also hard to get at this race because of the sheer mass of people. I did PR, but I think I could have been a lot faster – especially at the end where it gets congested. I like to throw all my energy out of the tank for a sprint at the end (or as close to a sprint as I can manage), and that just wasn’t possible here.
Also, for what it’s worth, the infamous “Cardiac Hill” isn’t that bad. It’s a hill, but if you run in Atlanta, you’ve probably run up worse. Not only that, but you have the energy of the race pushing you forward. I ran it but kept waiting for the big, bad, and ugly cardiac hill…… I didn’t realize til about mile marker 5 that I had already passed it.
Over 54,000 people raced this year, despite the rain, the lightning, the early morning. In addition to the weather, I was hampered by some GI issues and being in the midst of a stressful move. But it struck me as I was running……. THAT’S the American spirit. It’s to be indomitable even when everything is going against you, when you could give up, when other people might give up. It’s to keep going strong. It’s the broad stripes and bright stars yet waving through the perilous night.
Ending the day with friends and some bbq and cherries jubilee was just right.