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YOU! ARE NOW! A RUNNER!

12/01/2011

Last night The New Very Good Run Fast Shoppe (not its real name) hosted a graduation for one of its learn to run programs. After a 3.5 mile spin around town, 45+ plebes and their coaches filled the store for some cake (more on that later) and their official send-off into the world of running.

The owner of TVGRFS/TNVGRFS called each person one at a time to the front of the room and had everyone yell “YOU ARE NOW A RUNNER!” at them. She told me that this idea harkened from her sorority days. I told her that if it came from my sorority days the initiates would be kneeling on a basement floor blindfolded while we yelled at them for not carrying enough tampons and cigarettes in their pledge binders. We then giggled over how SDT (Sigma Delta Tau) was nicknamed “STD.” I miss college!

My pledge class headed to an 80's mixer! Can you find me?

Anyway, the yelling was a little corny but I loved it! I don’t know how many times I hear new(ish) runners lament “I am not a real runner” or ask “When do you become a real runner?” and my answer is always “If you run, you’re a runner!” Putting one foot in front of the other, makes you a runner. It’s that simple. There’s magic mileage marker to hit or pace to set–a runner is a runner is a runner no matter how fast or slow, how long or short.

Back in my snobbier running days, I considered anything under 10:00/mile “running” and anything over “jogging.” But then I met a breast cancer survivor who had completed about a half-dozen marathons since going into remission. Her pace was around 11:00-11:30/mile. Would I really be that much of a jerk to say she wasn’t a runner? After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy–which is tougher than any physical exertion you can put the human body through–she was covering distances that (at the time) I was terrified of, so who I was I to label her based on some ignorant, imaginary line of demarcation? Then I started reading more about ultrarunning and races like Leadville and Badwater. The best runners in these grueling 100+ mile runs rarely post single digit mile splits en route to completing these events. Was I really going to call someone who just finished 135 miles across Death Valley a jogger? Not if I didn’t want my ass kicked.

Coming back from my own 3-year layoff made me realize how stupid my previous notions of what was and wasn’t a runner were. I had a new appreciation for all runners–not just the “fast” ones. Every person that gets out there in the sun, the wind, the rain, the snow, before the sun rises, mid-morning, at noon, or after dusk, clocking a 7:00 minute mile or a 14:00 mile is a runner. It’s a shame they all don’t have a great group of people to shout it at them, because I think everyone deserves that kind of welcome in to the club!

Now the side note on the cake: We had a big sheet cake from Wegmans. I cut it into 49 pieces (supposed to be 50 but I am no professional cake cutter or even someone with a basic grasp of math). Why wasn’t there enough cake for everyone to have a slice? BECAUSE SOME SELFISH PEOPLE TOOK 2!!! I mean, really? You are graduating from a running program–let’s try to dial it back on the processed sugar and blatant gluttony for at least one hour. Really!

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/01/2011 10:18 AM

    Ohhh…I’m GUILTY! Even though I run, I always say that I’m not a runner. Not totally sure why, though. I think it is because running is just something I do, not who I am. Perhaps I don’t identify with it? Interesting. To do: discuss “identity” with therapist.
    Hmmm…who would have thunk that your blog would stimulate deep thought? ;)

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/01/2011 11:26 AM

      Pft, forget you. My blog ALWAYS inspires deep thought. I’m like Descartes, Ghandi, and Coldplay all rolled into one.

  2. 12/01/2011 10:31 AM

    I loved this post because it was filled with all sorts of positive vibes and feel-good endorphins and memories of wearing my hair in pigtails while meeting at the steps at midnight to rattle off the names of our sorority’s founders.

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/01/2011 11:26 AM

      I’m not always an asshole. What sorority were you in?

  3. 12/01/2011 11:32 AM

    Alpha Gamma Delta. Our mascot was a squirrel and our colors were red, yellow, and green. Beyond that I can tell you NOTHING about it. Our sorority was sorority for girls who didn’t really want to do the whole stuck-up snot/squealy-voiced girl sorority thing but still wanted to have cool parties with the fraternity boys. Hence, my college relationship that at 18 years old I was convinced would end in marriage.

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/01/2011 11:39 AM

      I was in D Phi E. Our mascot was a unicorn (I shit you not) and our colors were royal purple and pure gold. We weren’t squealy either but we did have the annoying habit of singing “We are D Phi E!” to “We are family” at bars. And then I failed out of college.

  4. 12/01/2011 11:34 AM

    P.S. I would have spotted you more easily in the photo if a)you’d been wearing a black UA hat and b)you weren’t wearing what appears to be a denim shirt. Awesome!

    • Suzanne permalink*
      12/01/2011 11:40 AM

      And those were sunglasses on my head because I wore them at night!

  5. 12/01/2011 4:25 PM

    I want to work at The Very Good Run Fast Shoppe or The New Very Good Run Fast Shoppe even more now. That’s awesome. I was not cool or pretty enough to be in a sorority at Penn State so I missed out on all “sisterhood” stuff – not the going to bars stuff.

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