Medal Monday: Gasparilla

My favorite day of the week!

Medal Monday.

One of the best parts about running a half marathon, or any race in general, is the medal you get after crossing the finish line. The symbol of all your hard work, determination and the endless miles you’ve put in.

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My name was on a poster the size of an entire wall and all I had to do was run a 5k!

I spend a significant amount of time on Monday’s scrolling through the Medal Monday tag on Instagram admiring everyone’s gorgeous medals and reading the stories behind them, which has inspired me to share the stories behind each of my medals every Monday. Until I run out of medals that is. This won’t last very long because I only have six so far (more to come!).

My first race actually wasn’t a half marathon. It was a 5k that was part of Tampa’s Gasparailla Half Marathon Weekend in 2015. I was in the midst of my half marathon training when I realized that I had no idea what to expect at the starting line, on the course or at the finish line. So I signed up for the 5k hoping to get the pre-race jitters out of me and feel more comfortable in the racing environment.

When I’m working towards a goal or when I achieve something big I often struggle with feeling like an impostor. I struggled immensely with this when I first started running, and I still do from time to time. Even though I had run 5k’s on my own more times than I could count, I was nervous everyone there would be able to tell I hadn’t been a runner for very long and that I was still figuring this whole thing out. I thought they’d be able to see through all my appropriate running gear and game face right to the girl that was always picked last in gym class. I even worried about being the last person to finish even though I always finished my 5k’s within 34 minutes.

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I like to commemorate every race with some form of a hair toss at the finish line.

Instead of my nightmares coming to life, I realized that day that no one knew I was new to running and most importantly even if they did…no one cared. Everyone was excited to be there and in high spirits or just too wrapped up in worrying about what pace they had to keep to break a PR.

Since I picked up on that quickly at the starting line, I was able to run carefree and enjoy the experience of my first race. At that point in my running journey, my best time for a 5k was 33 minutes. When I crossed the finish line at Gasparilla I realized I finished in 29 minutes and 45 seconds. I know that’s not fast by any means but for the girl that couldn’t do a single pull up in high school it felt pretty damn good. IMG_4162

Once I stopped worrying about whether I was worthy enough of running a race or living up to the expectations literally no one had for me as a runner (seriously, I made them up in my head!), I was able to run my best and run faster than I had before. That, my friends, is EXACTLY where the magic happens and that’s why every time I look at this medal I remind myself that only when I stop worrying about being good enough will I succeed and pass my own expectations.

Make sure you subscribe to my blog right over there on the sidebar so you don’t miss the story behind the medal I got after running my first half marathon!

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Why Do We Struggle to Call Ourselves Runners?

Why would you tirelessly put in the effort and hard work into running consistently and deprive yourself of identifying as a runner? There are no rules to running! You don’t have to be great at it to call yourself a runner.

I totally get not wanting to call yourself a runner when you first start. It’s still new and you don’t really know where you stand with it. I

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refused to call myself a runner when I was at the starting line of my first half marathon, even though I had just run 5 days a week for 12 weeks straight, and when I crossed the finish line I still didn’t want to call myself a runner. I knew I really enjoyed running and it did so much for me physically and emotionally, but I wasn’t sure I would remain dedicated once I finished my race.

Well, it’s been two years since I crossed that first finish line and here I am still running. The first time I called myself a runner was in my head while I was running my third half marathon last May. I was on mile 11, so incredibly miserable and I thought “I’ve been running for a year and a half and I just ran up treacherous hills for six miles in the rain and I want to quit but I’m still going. I’m a runner.”

I think many of the reasons why I didn’t call myself a runner for so long are the same reasons why so many other runners struggle with it as well.

“But I’m not an athlete!”

Not having an athletic background is probably the most intimidating thing ever when you decide to start running. It still kind of lingers in the back of my mind sometimes when I’m at the gym or even at a starting line.

When I was in the midst of my training for my first half marathon, everyone at my job knew about it because someone would always see me outside running. They started identifying me as a runner simply because they saw my consistency in it. They didn’t think about how long I’d been doing it or how fast or slow I was. They definitely didn’t think about me hiding in the bathroom during gym class. The longer I ran the more I realized I wasn’t an impostor, and neither are you. If we’re putting the time, miles, dedication and hard work into running we deserve to identify ourselves as runners.

I think not being athletic makes you even braver for deciding to run. Putting one foot in front of the other when you have no idea what you’re doing or if you can even do it is the gutsiest and most awesome thing in the world to me. Stop selling yourself short!

“I don’t look like a runner, so I can’t call myself one.”

Okay. Put yourself at the starting line at any race and you’ll realize whatever you think the stereotypical runner’s body is doesn’t actually exist. There are people of all shapes and sizes making it across the finish line, not one of them looking identical to the other. The only runner’s body that I’m familiar with is the one that’s strong enough to finish a run. Take the focus off of what your body looks like and focus on what your body can physically do.

“I’m not a real runner because I’m slow.”

I’m calling myself out with this one. I’m not fast by any means. I’ve worked up to being comfortable holding any where from a 10:54 to 10:00 pace. That’s not the point though. Running is a part of my routine and it’s a big part of who I am. You don’t need to be an elite runner to call yourself a runner. You just have to be consistent.

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Here’s me last week being a runner and taking a sweaty selfie after holding race day pace for five miles.

I don’t care how fast or how slow you run, what you look like or how long you’ve been running.

If you have an athletic background and now you run, you’re a runner. If you grew up getting hit in the face with a dodge ball in gym class like me but now you run…guess what? You’re a runner. If you’re 110 pounds with a six pack and you run, you’re a runner. If you’re 230 pounds and can’t recall ever having a flat stomach but you’re still out there running, you’re a runner. If it takes you five minutes to run a mile, congrats! You’re a runner. If it takes you 20 minutes to run a mile but you’re out there doing it all the time, you’re still a runner.

#MicDrop

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