“but they don’t pay me for this…”

>….is something I’ll say to fellow racers or spectators who call out “Good Job!” as I run. I mean it as a funny remark (which means I’m probably already in a bit of hot water, ’cause if you have to explain a joke…); sometimes I’ll reply: “but I paid them to let me run!”

Of course, the point is that running isn’t a job, it’s fun. Or should be. After all, we do pay entry fees for the pleasure of running in races. I hate those jokes non-runners make about how we all frown and scowl while running.

runner faces

Most of the time, I am smiling when I run. Or that’s what I think. Last year at this time, I was rehabbing a bad ankle. Every running step, no matter how slowly I ran, ached. Just being able to run pain free today and participate in races at a competitive level fills me with enormous gratitude.

Any awards truly are icing on the cake. I mean that. I don’t run for the bling, I run for the joy of running. Most days, it’s just me, outside and running. I love the ease, the simplicity, the rhythm of running along the road.

Recently, Bob Anderson’s Ujena Fit Club honored me as a “Runner of the Year.” Bob founded and ran “Runners World” magazine until he sold it in 1984. Since then, he’s begun the Ujena Fit Club and invented the “Double Road Race.”

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Yes, I know; that’s not a beaming smile in the photo. I did qualify my assertion with “most of the time.” Really short, fast races, like 5Ks, are not my favorites. They hurt to run; you just go out hard and speed up after that. And the Double Road Race is a 10K and a 5K, with a short rest break in between. The photo was taken at the one and only Double Road Race I’ve ever completed. It’s not a grin, but it’s not a grimace. Given the circumstances, I call that a win.

Being recognized for something you love to do is humbling. Nah, that isn’t false modesty. Running is its own reward. While I put in the training time, it’s not work. As I said, they don’t pay me for this. And that’s okay. I just want to run again tomorrow.

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......former public defender/legal aid lawyer, Teach For America teacher, and always running....

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