The Runner I Want to Be.

I have this image of the runner I want to be.

She is fit. Tone. But also a bit muscular. She moves with purpose. Confidence. I like to imagine a bit of grace but also strength. Maybe not “fast” by objective standards, but striving. Proud. She embraces the moment and what she’s feeling in it. She finds a certain joy and gratitude even when if what she’s feeling isn’t bliss.

I have this image of the runner I want to be. I don’t know when I will find her. I realize I’m not even conscious of it much of the time. But I know it’s there.  I’m working and striving toward becoming… something.

Photos from a recent race have posted. I inevitably look a bit goofy or spent or otherwise inelegant in action shots. I scroll through the roll of tiny thumbnails, trying to recall what I was wearing that day. I spot one that looks like it’s probably me and click to see the image.

And there she is. There is the image of that runner I’ve been chasing, often unwittingly. She is determined. Focused. Not fussed by dirt or the hot sun or anything else on or in front of her. She moves with purpose. She shows strength.

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Photo credit: Taryn Graham (Teanaway Trail Run photos)

A picture is worth a thousand words, but there are things that the photo can’t tell the outsider. Only the runner can.

The pic may tell us that she’s working hard. It doesn’t mention that the race started like crap for her, fatigue and tight calves and stomach cramps plaguing those first miles. But she kept moving, shifting the frame to appreciation of being out in a beautiful place, until she found her stride again. The photo hints that she is not the epitome of grace, dusty from that full body contact with the trail (aka falling). But she picked herself up and kept going without hesitation.

Maybe it is a little bit of vanity. But sometimes it takes seeing oneself, literally, from someone else’s vantage to see what one has become.

I have this image of the runner I want to be. I realize I have found her. Each time I step onto the trail, stride down the road, drop into the gym, or even take a needed rest connects me to that runner. She is learning, growing. And I’m stoked to see what she can achieve.