Three months ago I joined a Facebook group called Meg’s miles. I never met Meg. Didn’t know anything about her until she died. She was a Richmond road runner killed by an oncoming vehicle. A virtual race was started shortly after her death to ‘finish her run’. People from all over the world ran that day and posted their miles. It was a day I wasn’t planning to run but every time I saw a post with a number I needed to. So I did. I think I posted 4 miles for meg that day. A blip in the thousands that were posted.
Since then people continue to post to the group about why they run or how their run was inspired that day. I don’t always find them that heartwarming or motivating. In fact, I’ve thought about leaving the group a number of times. But I don’t. Because every now and then there’s one that reminds me that, because of this group, I am a runner. Before this group, I was just a girl who occasionally laced up and jogged around the neighborhood. But when I joined… during that four miles I ran for Meg… I found myself wondering why I refuse to accept the assessment – the label of definition – as a runner.
It all came from not feeling good enough. I’m not especially athletic. I’m not fast. I don’t get runners high and I assumed that was something kept from me as I did not meet the criteria for being a runner. But yet, the death of a member of the running community hit me hard. Why? Because, despite my grappling with imposter syndrome, feeling unworthy, or being an outsider, I am a part of that community. I am a runner.
And why do I run? I run because I can. Not because of the sheer joy of running (I still don’t get a runners high), but because of the celebration of being able to run, to appreciate the moment, and to be a part of this worldwide community. A community that was hit hard at last year’s boston marathon. But as runners, we became stronger through tragedy. Runners hold each other up. Runners cheer each other on. Runners keep running, and keep others running. Because we can.
And yes, I also run for exercise and weight management and to demonstrate good practices for my children. But even then, it isn’t just because I want my kids to be involved in heathy activities, but also because I want them to feel a part if this great community. Because wherever they are, there will be runners. There will be a community of runners. And when I can’t, those runners will be there to hold my kids up, to cheer them on, to keep them running.
That’s why I am a runner.