Today I am celebrating that I was finally well enough to go for a run last night. I have no idea what this virus might be named but it put me down for a solid ten days. In lieu of a clinical diagnosis I will call it New Year Blightitis or at any other occasion Ten Day Blightitis. I was able to go for a phlegmy walk on Sunday so I thought I’d try out a short run on Monday. I had to stop, drop, and cough several times but it was a successful re-entry. Whoo hoo!
While weaving around the park trail on Sunday, walking and spitting, I encountered one of my running buddies training for her next race. She is the first of all the running buddies with whom I’ve made contact recently who did NOT ask me, “So are you still running?” I have decided to crown her a Grand Duchess for this. She shall be known henceforth as Her Royal Highness Grand Duchess Alice Jones and shall be granted all honors, benefits and privileges thereto.
It seems that the running community at large, with the exception of the Duchess, assumes that because I no longer appear at races, I no longer run. Every long-time-no-see text, email, or chance encounter with another runner has included “How are you?” or “Thinking about you,” or “Haven’t seen you on Facebook,” or my favorite, “We miss you,” and then the inevitable question. Am I still running? Yes. I still run.
I run. I have run. I will run. I can run. I could, I would, I do, with green eggs and ham. As long as I am able to do so, random attacks of Ten Day Blightitis notwithstanding, I shall always run.
Until I stopped paying to run I never knew what it felt like to be questioned about an identity I assumed was a foregone conclusion. I regret times in the past when I asked it of runners I hadn’t seen in a while. I know how it feels now. It felt harmless when I have done the asking but I confess it gets under my skin now that I’m on the other side of the question. I guess the prevailing opinion must be that runners who give up racing are demoted by default. Haven’t seen her at any races so she must not be running anymore.
I don’t think anyone means any harm but the assumption chafes me nonetheless. It makes me miss the good old days when we were allowed to be runners without being racers, because racing was only for the elite. Back then (and I mean way back), runners who were not elite competitors ran because they loved running, and that was cool. Runners were weirdos to the rest of the population but there was no social running standard to which non-elites were supposed to conform. Now that racing is mainstream and ultimately inclusive, it’s assumed that something must be wrong if you run but don’t race. Once in the racing herd you must stay in, or it’s she must not be running anymore.
The only other time I’ve avoided the question was the day I met another running buddy at the gym. I was running on the treadmill so he didn’t have to ask. But he also didn’t act surprised. I didn’t get, “Oh wow, you’re still running?!” This fellow just happened to be the son of the Duchess. Coincidence? I think not. It’s obviously sovereignty in the bloodline. Those Joneses are upper crust. By virtue of his magnus dux birth and as heir of the Duchess, I guess this makes him His Grand Ducal Highness Cody Jones. And yes, that’s the same Cody as mentioned last week in the post about Cody’s Bible verse. All hail.
It will be a while before I’m running again at full steam and without gargling mucus but it is good to be back on the road, in the sun, on my feet, and ennobling the deserving. It’s a sassy/saucy feeling. And it is FUN; something I couldn’t always say when I was struck down sick while under the pressures of a training schedule for an endless series of races.
FUN — yes, let’s do more of that. If you just got here (or you assumed this was a running blog), I’ve adjusted my wellness practice to include the practice of having FUN. These daily writing prompts (explained last week) are delivered to me each day from South Africa. Peaco (my former racing companion) and I play with them.
Would you rather be loved or respected?
“And so I kept living”
— Dawn Thon Tourniquets
(run that question down)