This is how I feel when I try to swim. Only I don’t float that well.
This morning a friend posted on FB “Even after all this time I still get butterflies! *6.1* here I come.” It made me think, being a runner is like falling in love.
The theme right now seems to be Newbies. As administrator of the MRTC FB site I never know what reaction the posts will get; something I think is very interesting flops, other times I throw something up and it goes like wildfire. This week I posted a story from from a newbie and a photo I thought someone might like. I think they struck such a chord with the runners because we all remember being a newbie. Heading out the door in shoes from Target, wearing a cotton t-shirt and our old PE shorts, not carrying water, trying to figure out how far we’d gone by driving the course and watching the car’s odometer.
Somehow we made it. We saw a poster at the sports store, which we’d finally discovered for shoes, and timidly registered for a 5K. Feeling like a flashing blue light at WalMart, standing in the crowd at the start thinking OMG what have I just done?? we managed to get to the finish line. We met other runners; although we denied we were a *RUNNER* because we didn’t go as fast, or as long, or didn’t understand what a “negative split” was, we managed to learn the talk and start getting hints for shoes, hydration, shin splints. Runners love running, and they love to talk running. A newbie, to an older runner, is like Christmas. OH BOY! NEW! SHINING! MEMORIES! To share with a newbie is like crack. Feels so good (so I assume, about the crack, I mean) and the up side is, it’s legal, and it benefits everyone.
The FB posts were awesome, I’ve read them several times. I love the enthusiasm, the joy, the memories. I love the hesitant questions from the newbies, their excitement, their nervousness. I love how the runners cheer each other on, the incredible stories of overcoming illnesses, injuries, weigh loss and reclaimed health. If you can, read the links above. You’ll smile.
You only get to be a newbie once. Then you’re a runner. You may be a runner who is not running right now, you may be a runner who is injured, or a runner not training for anything, but you’re a runner. It’s like coloring your hair. You’re a blond or redhead now, and it looks great, but the roots are Runner.
I, however, have discovered the Fountain Of Newbie. You can be a newbie again. You just have to go back to the scared, hesitant, awkward, worried place.
This is what I feel like on my bike, only I look more worried. And I wear a helmet. Which, the first time I wore it, was on backward. Hey, it gave T1 and T2 a laugh.
This is how I feel when I go really really fast, like 14 mph. (Kristin Armstrong, Olympic Time Trials Gold Medalist, 18 miles in 37:34.81; if the online converter is correct that is 28.748890860692104 MPH)
It is a bit like falling in love. Shiny object: boyfriend. Shiny object: bicycle. Scary: first date. Scary: first ride. Revealing yourself: maybe you won’t measure up. Revealing yourself on the ride: maybe you won’t be able to keep up. Sticking with it the first time it gets rough: your first fight. Sticking with it the first time it gets rough: clipping in.
Thus I found myself early Labor Day morning enthusiastically donning the riding gear I’d carefully set out the night before. Newbie, checking: Shorts, gloves, helmet, water bottles… nervously excited I drove to B’s house and met H and Mr. B for a ride. I felt so official, pulling on my bike gloves, helmet facing forward, gleaming new white shoes. We took off. Well, they took off. I was facing the wrong direction! hahahahaha! I clipped in, too scared to try a tight turn on the neighborhood street, I went the opposite way and met them at the corner. It was a beautiful morning as we rode through the countryside. The ravens on the power lines laughed at me, but I knew they were wrong. Laugh away, I said, laugh away, and I rode on.
Maybe I’ll save swimming for awhile so I can be a newbie again, again.