Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Out Of My League?

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.


tahoegirl said...

Your comment on that FB page can be: I have lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for X years. That to me is more impressive than someone running a 2:48. I would totally want to run with you vs the other guy. :O) (Are you running the full?)

Mark said...

My guess is that you were one of the only if not the only person who even applied who has a PR of over 4 hours and run so few marathons. My guess is they chose you because you will provide more encouragement to people who have never done one before to sign up than those who run marathons as if they were nothing. I think those worries you have are actually your greatest strength. It's why I keep reading your blog, after all.

Michael said...

They saw something they wanted in your application and that's what matters!! I'm sure lots of them are comparing themselves but at the end of the day you all have a lot in common.

Detroit Runner(Jeff) said...

Lb – it's an inspiring story. People don't care about Boston. They care to hear stories like yours. By the way, I'm not sure there is a runner look. I've seen many shapes and sizes out at a marathon. By the way, I personally hate that skin part too.

Megan said...

Damn, LB! How did I not know you lost 120 lbs? That's amazing! I do the same thing to myself. I always minimize my achievements because I don't want people to think that I think highly of myself. They chose you for a reason! Enjoy it!

Rose (Hacker Half Marathon) said...

You are amazing and have inspired me from afar, so I'm sure you'll be doing the same thing for people in SF. Stay true to who you are!

Tricia said...

confession: I really wanted to do this,but I didnt apply to be a SF Ambassador because I had those feelings. I didn't think I was a "good enough" runner.

Youre my hero for being brave enough to reach for that goal.

I love my fast friends but I gotta say, YOUR story will reach thousands. Its your story that will inspire others to run.

Monika said...

I'm excited to be co-ambassador with you!!! I admit, I compare myself to others, but I also remember that as fast as you become, there is always someone faster to compare yourself to. I've been chasing down a sub 4 hour goal for years. I'm honestly embarrassed (not proud) by how many marathons I've done trying (and failing) to break 4 hours. My faster friends want Boston, and my Boston friends want a sub-BQ finish time. No matter what we achieve its hard to stop thinking about what we could do better. Its amazing that you've lost all of that weight and focused on a healthy and inspiring goal. Be proud of that!! I think we were all chosen so that we could be relatable to different types of people. And there are a lot of different types of runners out there!!

The Jesse said...

I've been thinking about a lot this post since I read it yesterday. And when I saw this quote I knew I needed to share it with you:

"In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that."

Jim ... 50after40 said...

I wouldn't worry for one second about the time. We're all "out of our league" when we compare ourselves to others. You are a great marathoner ... and I seriously doubt that anyone will even give the time a second thought. If they do - screw 'em!!! The times are just something we use to measure ourselves against ourself, not others. At least that's the way I look at it. Have a great week!

Nelly said...

I agree completely with 50After40, we are all slow if we compare ourselves to the elite runners!

And I think you answered your own question above with this sentence:
"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."

I was considering applying to be a SF ambassador, but I've been battling injuries for a while now (I missed SF half 2011 because of it), and I didn't want to apply to be an ambassador if I couldn't run the race next July. I think I'll be healthy enough to run by then, but didn't want to take the risk.

Angelina said...

You have definitely earned your place with everyone else! Congrats!

samie said...

I know everyone has already said this, so just adding my voice to the others: but your story is truly inspirational and I think you will be able to inspire a lot of people to lace up their shoes, go for their first run, and run the SF Marathon or Halfs!! :D

Glenn Jones said...

I think you need to keep in mind that many other qualifications need to go into being an ambassador. Congratulations.