Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Accidental Athlete

Just finished the book, An Accidental Athlete, by John "The Penguin" Bingham. (Thanks Heather @ Runners North for recommending and letting me borrow this.)

I can SOOO relate to this book. I was not an athlete growing up. In fact, athletics were the furthermost thing from my mind!! I discovered my inner athlete February 2010.

I remember when I first made the decision to start running. It was scary. I registered and paid for a 5k. Then come to find out, it was actually a 6k! I was nervous. My goal was to finish. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just finish. I remember the day I stepped up my training and ran from one mail box to the next, then I would walk. I was so excited when I could actually run 1 mile without stopping! My friend Amy was training for the TOU half at this time, and she was up to about a 9 minute mile. She challenged me to see if I could run our 3 mile loop, without walking. I was so surprised---I COULD DO IT!!! I was so excited to tell her. I was running a little over an 11 minute mile, and Amy was so supportive of me. Even though she was faster, she was genuinely excited to see my progress.

I have found new best friends through running. As we are out on the road or trail, we are very vulnerable and friendship bonds develop very quickly. I treasure my new friends, and I, like Amy, am truly excited for each small and large accomplishment.

I have a few quotes from the book An Accidental Athlete, that I want to remember. So here it goes.

It wasn't much of a start, to be sure. But it was a start. Every day or so I'd lace up my shoes and try it again. Every time I ran I tried to go just a little bit farther than I had the time before.
What I knew for sure was that even though I was awful at it, I liked running. It was pure. It was honest. It was simple. It was just me and my feet and the road.

September 25, 2010, was the day I crossed my first official start and finish line. (Cache Valley Duathlon) I did this as a team. Me, Jan, and daughter Jacque. Jacque ran the first 2 miles, Jan did the bike 12 miles I think, and I did the last 2 miles. We placed 1st is our division. We were the ONLY ones in our division, but that didn't matter!! When I read this, I thought of that day. That was the day that my life changed forever. That was the day I discovered a part of myself that I didn't know existed. I was a competitor. And I liked it. I liked everything about it. I liked lining up at the start. I liked being out on the course. And I especially liked coming across the fish line. I knew than that my life would never be the same.

I liked this part of his book too: Being a runner has made me a fundamentally more honest person....I cannot lie to anyone about how fast I am. If they are running next to me, they will know. I connote lie to anyone about how far I can run. When I need to stop, they'll know. .....other runners are honest with me too. I can't lie about my pace, but neither can they. You can't pretend to be a runner. You can't buy something that represents speed and expect anyone to be impressed.

Running is a wonderful sport. Unlike nearly every other athletic endeavor, it brings every ability level--fast or slow, seasoned or novice--together to share in a common goal: to stand on the starting line and test our strength, courage and our spirit. ...the glamour of the sport belongs to runners at the front of the pack, but the glory belongs to any one of us, regardless ......If we face the obstacles, overcome our fears, and push our limitations, we can emerge victorious.

What I want most for myself as a runner, and for those whom I'm fortunate enough to encounter or influence as runners, is to learn to run inside our own light, to experience the transformation that occurs when we are no longer what we were and not yet what we will be. We are only what we are.
Being an athlete doesn't mean that you are athletic. Being an athlete means that you are committed to encountering the world around you with the courage and conviction of an athlete.
If you have that courage to think and live and feel like an athlete, then you will find, as I have, that you have more strength of will and body than you ever dreamed possible.
All it takes to begin is a single step.

A single step, that's all it took.

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