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Making a Runner - Crystal Grove
by Crystal Grove on March 12th, 2016

‚ÄčI am not a runner.

I don't like the title "runner" because I'm not sure what it implies. (I have NEVER eaten a carbohydrate gel or peed on myself to avoid the delay of a potty stop.)

I am just a person who runs, and races, on a semi-regular basis. Running doesn't define me or my life, it is just a teeny tiny little part of it. But its a part that I like.

In the Fall of 2009 a friend asked me to run a half marathon with her in the Spring and I said, "Sure." I have no idea why I agreed to it. At that point I had never run further than 100 meters in my entire life. I don't know what came over me, but she wanted to run it (a first for her as well) and I decided to go with her, for better or worse. We registered for the Christie Clinic Half Marathon in Champaign, followed a training plan and set a goal of simply finishing the race. We ran the race together, until she fell back due to an IT band problem at about mile 9. I ran the rest of the race alone and as I got closer to the finish I could tell that it might be possible to finish in under 3 hours. I sprinted across that football stadium to the cheers of my family and hundreds of others in the stands and finished in 2 hours and 50 minutes. I burst in to tears and my love of running was born. I was 35 years old.

Since then I've completed the Christie Clinic race three more times, shaving over 30 minutes off of my original time, and the Indy Mini Marathon once. I walked the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon in St. Louis with an awesome group of "losers" and ran the full Go St. Louis Marathon too. I've finished second to last in a sprint triathalon and competed in multiple 5Ks, winning my age group once. But all of those races are just a small part of my running journey.

The real running takes place in the early morning hours, in the dark, in the cold, when the only human being you see is your running partner and the guy unloading the semi truck at Dollar General. Don't get me wrong, I've limped and walked and whined while running. I've climbed fences to escape vicious dogs. I've used a grove of trees in the middle of a field as my bathroom. I've stepped on unidentifiable roadkill. And I've taken a wrong turn, slid down a muddy, poison ivy covered hill and sprained my ankle the week before the big race too. All of that doesn't change the fact that I love it. The running I love is ALWAYS done with friends and is at a pace just slow enough to allow for good conversation. I've cried and laughed and prayed while running. I've counseled and listened and vented while running. But the best thing I've done while running is build and strengthen relationships with other runners. And that's what makes it fun.

To all of my running partners, from Linda the first ever, to Chrisy the crazy marathoner and Pinky my faithful pacer, Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!


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