"I'm not a runner, but I run." That was always my response when people brought up running in conversation. However, in the last few months (with a lot of extra time for reflection), I have changed my tune. Running has now been part of my life for over twenty years. After a long “career” in swimming, I graduated from college and could not run (pardon the pun) fast enough from the pool.
I dabbled with gyms and all sorts of classes but seemed to be pulled outside after working all day. So, while living in Atlanta, I bought some proper running shoes and hit the road. Despite the very hilly terrain and heat of Atlanta, I slowly gained endurance and entered a few races. My favorite race was the famous Peachtree Road Race with its 70,000 runners.
After running that road race, I felt not only a sense of accomplishment but was quietly thrilled by being part of something much bigger than me. Since then, my running has ebbed and flowed with my busy life but has endured. When I was having babies, it was my incentive to get out there and get back in shape, a few miles at a time.
When my children were little, it was the thirty-minute escape I so desperately needed at times. The 5k and 5-mile races I ran over the years were all about fun and participation for me, but the half marathons and 10-milers tapped my inner competitiveness. They came at a time when I needed a goal and a focus that centered on me and not my family. I could not resist that phone call from a friend getting a group together to run a race because it meant a fun weekend away with “my girls.”
In the last few years, I’ve dialed back my running to a few times a week. My focus, for the moment, has turned to longevity and overall health with my running. I’ve also focused more on running with my kids, especially since March! This seems to be just my speed for now.
I never qualified for Boston, nor did I ever try. I have not run a full marathon, but I still have time. I think that is what I love about running; it can be whatever you want or need it to be at any given time. There is accomplishment and camaraderie at every level.
With another LS 5K coming up, I look back at all the years my family has participated. My husband, who is a way more accomplished runner than I am, has run the race for years, and we are still drinking out of some of the “prize” glasses he won years ago. My older boys started with the kiddie dashes many moons ago and now are both running cross country with RBR. My younger girls are both graduating from the 1-miler to the 5k. This year, I am sure the men in my life will speed past me, but I will be very content to coach my girls through their first 5k.
So, to everyone running the LS 5K this year … GOOD LUCK, HAVE FUN, and remember, you are a runner!
By Kristin Richards