Do I have to be serious to run?

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As I counted down to my second half marathon I had a few thoughts not just about the race, but about perceptions of people who willingly chose to run 21K. I have had this run on my mind since January when I signed up and have trained a bit more seriously that I have in the past although I don’t qualify myself as a serious runner, I definitely have a few goals in mind for the weekend, the most important is to actually run across that finish line, not shuffle with seized up hips like last year. 😉 But isn’t running about more than just crossing a finish line?

As I started to pack for my trip, it occurred to me there really are differences in how people perceive runners and running and the “seriousness” of the sport. I walked into my local running store to pick up some anti-friction gel (lesson learned the hard way last year) and the sales clerk asked me if I was preparing for a race. I puffed out my chest and proudly told him, “why yes, I am running in the SeaWheeze half marathon this weekend in Vancouver!”. He looked at me a bit puzzled and said he wasn’t sure what that was but knew there was a triathlon coming up somewhere this weekend (because clearly, a 1/2 marathon and triathlon are exactly the same). I started to explain to him that it was in beautiful Vancouver and since it was sponsored by Lululemon it was always a fantastic weekend. Before I could finish my sentence, he interrupted with a huff and said “oh right, I have heard about that. It isn’t a serious race and people are just there to show off what they are wearing.” Um, pardon? In what world is running 21K (or 13.1 miles for my American friends) not serious? Maybe there aren’t prizes for finishing first, or elite divisions, or qualifying times for other elite races like the Boston Marathon, but how many people do you know can endure running for 2 – 3 hours straight? He continued to tell me about someone in the store’s running club that tried this very half marathon last year and came back frustrated because very few runners “took it seriously”. I was speechless.

I wondered as I walked out of the store what gave her the impression that the Vancouver SeaWheeze was “serious” (her term, not mine) when their motto is “yoga.run.party.” Having said that, last year 7607 runners crossed the finish line in under 4 1/2 hours so in my books that’s an accomplishment and I bet every last one of those runners felt they did something pretty serious to be in that much pain (or was that just me?). I suppose there are varying degrees of “seriousness” when it comes to running, but having the ambition to lace up runners and face 21K of pavement takes determination, dedication and can be quite sobering and emotional at times.

No matter what ones definition of “serious” happens to be, there is little room for arguing that the entire weekend is a whole lot of fun.

Maybe I am a serious runner, or just seriously in need of a new hobby.

~t.g.2014

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