Yes, You Are Who You Say You Are

Running Shoes


We all have a story about who we are in this world.

We all keep this ever present, running list that consciously (and not so consciously) guides our decisions in obvious (and not so obvious) ways.

As we get older, we add chapters and the list seems only to grow longer and longer.

I am no exception. The story that I carry, like everyone else’s began in childhood. It has chapters that have been added with each success, disappointment and heartbreak and I can sometimes feel myself getting entrenched in the tale of who I am until something comes along to shake things up.

A couple of weekends ago, I agreed to support a dear friend as she ran her first half marathon… 13.2 miles… a crazy distance in my mind because in my story, there is a chapter that is titled “I don’t run.” Maybe the chapter began when my military father decided that it would be a great idea to do family runs together. Picture an unhappy round and awkward pre-teen girl, being teased by neighborhood boys about thunder thighs.  Perhaps the story deepened with the added experience the same girl having to run a timed mile runs every Friday morning paired with the fastest boy who would actually lap her on the track as all of the others watched and played.

I don’t run. Period.

So I arrived early at a designated location on the half marathon route with a bag of supplies –  Gatorade, blister pads, baby powder, moleskine, Reese’s Pieces – waiting for her to reach mile marker 8. Not wanting to miss her, I stood there, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. After a bit, I began to not just see but take in the faces of the people running by. They were mostly women, some strong and fit – not their first run – types, some round and awkward – perhaps their first time – types. There were different ethnicities and ages and sizes and body types with much variation and variety yet I picked up on what felt like a common thread. There was this look of determination across each sweaty face.

A not so little voice inside my head say, “I could do that.”

Hey, what? Wait a minute! Remember, we don’t run, I thought.

The voice came back, clear as a bell “But you could.”

Hmmm. That got me thinking. Despite the story that I had been spinning since I was 11 or 12, despite my rote 3 word answer to anyone who asks me to join them on a run, despite the words heavily etched on the page of the chapter long since written I realized that the voice was completely right. I could do this. It would require a pair of running shoes and some proper training and it would require goal – like a 5K – to work towards and perhaps a friend or two to encourage me but I could do this.

I can do this.

Maybe, I will do this.

Why? Because while we are all most definitely who we say we are, we are also so much more… if we simply decide to be.