One of the main things I’ve struggled with over the past six-ish months of injury is my identity as a runner. If there are two things that people know about me, it’s that I’m a runner and that I’m a nurse (fitting blog name, hm?), with runner definitely coming before nursing. I’ve been running since I was twelve years old. When people introduce me to someone new, they say, "This is Susan…she runs marathons."
Which I’m okay with, except for the fact that that question is usually followed by something along the lines of, "Wow…do you run every day? How many miles do you usually run? How many marathons have you run?” Normally easy questions to answer, but the past six months, the answer has been, “Well, I normally run ______, but I’m having some back problems I can’t run right now.” Talk about a conversation stopper.
Running is who I am, it’s what I do. It’s not something I do for exercise, it’s something I actually look forward to do doing and something that helps keep me sane. If you take that away, I feel a little bit lost. A runner who doesn’t run? I do not understand.
Back when I was thirteen years old, I got my first memorable haircut. My mom had trimmed my hair throughout the years, but I never had a real haircut. This resulted in me having long hair that extended to my knees, which I always wore in a high braided ponytail, the ending landing at my waist. I used to ask my mom when I would know that I wanted to cut my hair, and she told me that when I knew, I would know. Just one of those things, right?
One day I woke up and realized I wanted to cut my hair. So we made an appointment, and long story short, two feet of hair got chopped, leaving me with a still solid hair length below my shoulders. I don’t remember how long it took for me to start crying that my hair was gone, but I do remember that the Dairy Queen blizzard my parents got to comfort me was accidently made with Heath bar instead of M&M’s and Apollo 13 was on TV. (High fives for good memories.)
I’m not so sure I was so upset about the loss of my hair as I was about the loss of my identity as “the girl with long hair.” Even if people didn’t know who I was, people knew me as the girl with long hair. Who was I if I wasn’t the girl with long hair anymore? Now that referred to someone else.
Clearly I survived no longer being known as the girl with long hair…because I truly no longer was the girl with long hair. But when injury struck earlier this year, I still felt like a runner. I knew one day I would be a runner again. I still read running blogs, cheered runners at races, researched comeback marathons, and made entries for relays like Hood to Coast. I still felt like a runner even though I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other without pain.
After a few months, I began to question whether I could call myself a runner anymore. I certainly didn’t feel like one anymore, planning nights out with friends instead of long runs with friends. My running shoes sat in the corner of my room, especially those new pairs I have that are waiting to be rotated in.
When I finally got the go ahead to run again, I definitely didn’t feel like a runner anymore. I used to be able to run with almost anyone, at any distance. A few miles left me winded, and my legs became sore after distances that I normally wouldn’t even sneeze at.
I’m leaving in a few short hours for round two at the Hood to Coast Relay with TEAM NUUN. I was picked for the team way back in April when I was in the heart of my back pain. I applied thinking the back pain would be much more temporary than it ended up being, and I’m assuming (never assume, but work with me) that nuun thought the same. A month ago, I started questioning whether or not I’d even be able to head to Seattle/Oregon to run. I told people I needed to be ready to run. I believe I actually used the word “race.”
The truth is, if the San Francisco Half Marathon had gone poorly, I was ready to pull out of Hood to Coast. But it didn’t. And my back feels wonderful. I don’t quite feel like the runner I was a year ago at Hood to Coast, but I am excited to be out there running. Will my pace be as fast as I like? No. But I’ll be out there putting one foot in front of the other because I’m a runner and that’s what we do.
Mostly importantly, I’m excited to finally meet the other members of the nuun Hood to Coast team and spread the nuun love while having an awesome time. Considering that I had real thoughts of not even being able to run this relay, this will be extra special and I can’t believe the time is finally here.
Next stop, Seattle!!
Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite nuun flavors and relay tips! The winners of the giveaway are…
- Kendra, a fellow nurse who wants to try tangerine ginger nuun
- Nikki, who suggests making new friends during the relay.
Kendra and Nikki, shoot me an email with your address and I’ll send you some nuun! Thanks for entering, and if you’re looking to get some nuun of your own, you can use the code “bloggerslovenuun” for 15% off at the nuun shop!