Like a Real Runner

I just got back from my first 5k of the year and was thinking about this running thing. I’ve never considered myself to be a “real” runner. You know the type. The disciplined ones who hop out of bed each morning, suit up in their running gear, and head straight out door for a 5-mile jaunt. They probably don’t even bother downing a cup of coffee before they hit the pavement… or even have to stop to catch their breath during their run, like I do. And they still seem to like every minute of it! I’ve always wanted to be a real runner like that.  I’m a fair-weather fan of running, and don’t veer too far from the treadmill in the winter months before braving the elements.

Even though I’ve run in many 5Ks since I quit smoking eleven years ago, and actually completed the Twin Cities Marathon ten years ago, I don’t even enjoy the act of running. I like how I feel afterwards, but that’s about it. I’ve never really been athletic, but I started loving the thought of running in junior high, so in seventh grade, I joined the cross country running team. There’s no other sport or activity that gives me a greater sense of accomplishment. I’ve always wanted to like doing it, so I sign myself up for races so I can be around people who love it. All the while, hoping that one day something will click in my brain and I’ll love it too—like a real runner.

Yesterday’s race was the first winter run I’ve ever done. It was rather invigorating, due mostly to the 12° temperature. The entire path around the lake was pretty treacherous and icy, as was the arctic air being sucked into my lungs. My heart and lungs were screaming at me to STOP and walk every couple minutes, but my legs felt like they could run for miles. Pacing myself so all my body parts would work together in symphony (without one area getting hurt) was challenging since they’re not all at the same level of fitness. Adding to the challenge was the frustration of having my shoes come untied at least eight times during the run.

There were 248 runners yesterday, and I came in 146th overall. There were 176 women, and I was 91st. My finishing time was 35 minutes and some odd seconds, which is roughly an 11-minute mile. Not so impressive or anything, but hey! I already know I don’t fit the stereotypical runner mold, and I’m okay with that. I do have a little competitiveness in me, and I love stats, so I can’t help but think how I’m going to work to improve my pace next weekend when I run my first 7K.

No matter how many times I’ve run, I find myself throwing up at almost every finish line. This has always bothered me and reiterated the non-runner status in my mind all these years. I mean, how embarrassing! Just once, I want to cross the finish line like they do in the movies. You know, hands raised in victory and all that? Nope. Not me. I can feel totally fine during the whole race, and then when I start hearing all the excitement and cheering at the finish line, I almost always start having gag reflexes. Then I pray that no one I know is pointing a camera in my direction when I have to start hurling on the edge of the path… like I did yesterday. Yep, it’s true. I threw up again at the finish line. And my husband, Jon, was right there to capture it on camera. Lovely.

Even though no one who sees me run in a race would consider me one of the big dogs, I keep telling myself, I run, therefore, I AM a runner. I’m content to do my best, run my own race, and be happy making efforts to keep myself in shape and pressing to achieve my goals. I’m as big or small of a dog as my own mind limits me to be.

Aren’t you glad that when you have dreams or desires in your heart, that God doesn’t leave us stranded to walk the journey alone? He’s the one who puts those things in there, so of course He’ll help us. I know He’ll help me get to where I need to be physically and mentally in the weeks and months ahead as I train for my second marathon this fall. I’m counting on it, and I wouldn’t want to do it without Him. He’ll be there every step of the way for you too, as you reach for your own goals and dreams. He’s faithful to remind us we can do whatever He’s asked us to do if we set our mind to it; even if we don’t fit the stereotype. We each have our own race, and sometimes we throw up along the way, but that’s okay because life’s journeys are not always pretty… and don’t happen like they do in the movies.

Me throwing up

Galatians 6:4 (NLT) ~ Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) ~ For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.



  1. Kathy Brandstetter
    Mar 14, 2011


    Another great post. I never feel like a real runner either. When ever someone seems impressed that I run I feel I always have to clarify that I run slow. But you are right, we each have to run our own race and that is all we are called to do. We do have to get you over this throwing up at the finish line. The finish line should be a pleasent time.


  2. Vicki Foss Mehr
    Mar 14, 2011

    You are a REAL runner to me! I’m so impressed. You were out there in that horrible cold weather==a feat unto itself. You kept going, you looked cute and you are philosophical and inspirational about it all. And you made it–all the way to the end!! I’m very proud of you!!



  3. Brianna Watson
    Mar 16, 2011

    I am so proud of you, Julie. You are such an inspiration! Your stats are wonderful, and I just know your next race will be easier! You can do it! And like Vicki said, you are a REAL runner!


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