I’ve been a runner for nine years now. The kind of runner who has to put in work to reach the finish line — a lot of hard work. Running doesn’t come naturally or easy for me. I’m not fast. I run the sort of pace that patronizing elitists and media types call “jogging.”
O, how I hate the word JOGGING! It makes it sound like the person really isn’t trying very hard, or isn’t very committed, or just decided that day to “jog” around their neighborhood to scope out the house that went up for sale. I work hard. I *am* committed. And if I wanted to check out the houses for sale I will look them up online from the comfort of my couch and laptop, thank-you-very-much.
The next thing I hate is “the look.” You know which one it is. It’s the one the Sidekick gives the Hero in a movie when said Hero announces he’s going to do something outrageous. It’s the one Dionne gave her boyfriend in Clueless when he doesn’t treat her like he should in front of his friends. You know, that whole-body in-a-single-motion, lean back, drop the chin, look sideways down the shoulder, raise the eyebrows move. For you 80’s kids: Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?
If I had $1 for every time I saw that face, or heard “Oh, you run?” from, well, anybody, I’d have enough to buy a new pair of running shoes. These conversations usually starts with polite chit chat with people I interact with but don’t really know: the dental hygienist, bank teller, CNA in the doctor’s office, grocery store cashier. It most often goes something like this:
Them: So, what are your plans for the weekend?, — or — Do you have big plans for the weekend? (It’s one of the safest things to ask of someone you hardly know.)
My answer usually goes something like this: Not much, I’m training for a race so I have to do a long run on Saturday. And we might _____ later. (Cue eyebrow raise of curiosity.)
Them: Oh, really. Like a 5k or something? — or — (my favorite) You run? (insert astonished face)
Me: No, not a 5k. — or — Yes, I run. I’m training for a _____ (insert race distance: half marathon, marathon, 25k, triathlon, half ironman) and I have to run _____ miles.
Cha-ching! That’s when I could start collecting the money.
After the umpteenth time this happened I decided to use a hashtag I’d seen on Instagram whenever I posted a running selfie, or finish line picture or anything else to do with training for a race.
Maybe, just maybe the general population will stop being so flipping shocked that someone over a size 12 actually does exercise and can run a long way. Maybe, just maybe if enough Thick Chicks see the hashtag they’ll start using it too, and realize they aren’t alone. I know you know we aren’t. I see you at the start lines looking all cute in your tutus, skirts, bright shirts, flashy capris or all basic black. I see you with your compression calf sleeves, arm warmers and kinesio tape. I see that fuel belt. I see you’re not a size 4. I see you are ready. Just.like.me. And I’m pretty sure you have seen me, or someone like me.
So girls, stand up, be proud. Let’s make it a movement, and let the world know: YES, I run!