As I look at the list of fellow 2012 San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors, I'm left with a bit of an impression. Well, two actually.
The initial impression: wow, these people are fast.
Which leads to the next one: do I belong?
I know it shouldn't really matter, deep down inside I get that. Everyone runs at their own pace and as long as you're running and taking control of your health and fitness, that's what matters.
But this is a little different, this group of Ambassadors I'm in. We're not trying to win a race or trying to recruit fast runners to participate in an event or anything but it seems like, at first glance, many of the ambassadors are fast. Super fast. Boston fast.
One ambassador posted to our Ambassador FB page that he'd just run a 2:48 Sunday in New York. Another said she'd run Boston a few times and knocked out a 3:30 recently, and other fellow Boston runners said they'd see her in Beantown next year. And I know a few others have run Boston and have set these amazing marathon PRs. Most seem to have run multiple marathons, as in double digits.
Hi. My name is L.B. I've run four marathons and my PR is, uh, 4:23.
Compared to many of the others, my stats don't match up.
Hell, I don't even look like a marathoner. You know, the typical marathoner is thin and lean and... well I'm not. (a lot of that though is skin... when you lose 100-plus pounds, you lose the weight but keep the skin, good stuff).
After my initial elation of being chosen as a San Francisco Marathon Ambassador subsided, I was left with these feelings. Do I really belong? Am I out of my league with all these other runners? Have I gotten myself into something that's better suited for a veteran marathoner, a real runner?
See, I have a bit of a character flaw. In the past I always minimized my own accomplishments. If I did something it must not have been A) that tough and B) that meaningful. Since I didn't think too highly of myself before, it just seemed like a natural conclusion.
You ain't crap so whatever you do ain't crap.
I've worked on that. A lot. I obviously have a different frame of reference now. I lost 120 pounds. I have run four marathons. I have done things that are deemed difficult, that I used to think were impossible. I did those things by myself. Nobody ran the miles for me. Nobody held a gun to my head and told me to change my lifestyle. I did that. LB did that. I had help and support, of course, but I did that.
I gained some confidence along the way, gained some self-esteem. Long ago I changed my lifestyle for the better and somewhere along the way I also changed my mentality.
But.... there's always a but, isn't there?... but these were the feelings that came up the more I learned about my fellow Ambassadors.
Now, I do think I'm working harder at being a runner. I've run for 31 consecutive days through Tuesday's run. I've logged more than 1,100 miles this year. I had my first 50-mile week recently and my last four weeks I've logged 44, 48, 50 and 47 miles, respectively. I'm registered for the LA Marathon, I am a pace leader with my running club - which happens to be the biggest running club in two counties...
I've built myself up quite a bit, so these feelings that arose sort of caught me off guard.
I'm convinced though that I do have a unique story. Not all runners have lost 100-plus pounds after all. And I really do feel that if I can do this - lose weight, run a marathon - anyone can do it. Nothing is impossible. I enjoy running because I am able to enjoy it, because I am fit and healthy and happy, and that wasn't always the case. I really do take as much pleasure as I do from a four-mile run as I do from a 14-mile run. It's all about the run, not the time. I firmly believe that.
I think I have an inspirational story and I want to share that with as many people as possible. As a SF Marathon Ambassador, I hope to be able to share that and, if nothing else, get the message across that the San Francisco course is not impossible. If anyone knows anything about what's possible and what's impossible, it's me.
So I think I came to a happy medium then with my fellow SF Marathon brethren. I'm not going to run Boston with anyone anytime soon, I may not run a sub-four marathon anytime soon and it will take me a few more years to get to 10-plus marathons.
But that doesn't mean I'm not in the same class as them (technically I am not - we won't start the San Francisco Marathon in the same wave - but let's just leave that aside for now). I'm a runner, a marathoner, and I'm just as serious about my running as anyone.
I'm honored that the San Francisco Marathon people felt enough of my application to bestow this honor on me, and as I work on these initial feelings, it's all good and hopefully smooth sailing ahead.