One of my defining moments as an athlete was getting passed by a one-legged runner… Twice.

Columbia once had a half marathon called the Wilson’s Half Marathon Relay.  That race has since been taken over by the Roots N Blues people, but back in the day I ran it as my second half marathon and had every intention of blowing away my first attempt at that distance.  I had done a fair amount of training for that race, but I had not covered nearly as many miles as my ego thought I did.  In mile eight I was overtaken by a man wearing a prosthetic leg.  Angered by this perceived insult to my new-found ability, I sped forth and had overtaken him around mile ten.  I wore a satisfied grin, confident in my belief that all one-legged racers would remain in my rear view mirror that day.  I was wrong.  He overtook me AGAIN at mile eleven and all I would see of him for the rest of the day was the back of his shoe.  I left the race that day dissatisfied with myself.  I’d worked hard.  But obviously, as I thought, not hard enough.

I was wrong.

These miles we consume are a gift.  And one we give to ourselves.  I should have been happy for the one-legged man.  His speed should have served as source of hope and inspiration, and not envy.  I should have slapped high fives with him.  And celebrated with great vigor the fact that we possessed bodies capable of doing these amazingly wonderful things.  Instead, the runner I had put in my mind was better than the one my body had provided.  I did not run my miles for myself.  I ran them for the runner I thought I should have been.

I tell you these things so that you might learn from my mistakes. And that in doing so your path to happiness as an athlete might be shortened.  ALWAYS run/walk your miles for yourself, and no one else.  The runner in your mind can work against you. The miles you consume can be a gift if you accept the runner you are instead of the one you think you should be.

And if you ever see a one-legged runner, buy him a beer for me.  And tell him I said he rocks!!

Craig

Craig with his beautiful wife and daughter, Suki and Madeline

Craig with his beautiful wife and daughter, Suki and Madeline

**Craig began running with us in the first Couch to 1/2 marathon group we ever did in 2008.  He weighed about 100 pounds more than he does now, doubted his ability as an athlete, and wondered what he could actually do.  Since that fateful day, he has chosen not only to run for himself but to coach our Couch to 3.1 group and has helped hundreds of people get started on their running journey.  On top of that, he has run countless half marathons and marathons, learned to swim and in 2013 I had the pleasure of watching him finish his first Iron distance triathlon at Beaches to Battleship.  The most rewarding part of watching his journey, however, is seeing how running has not only transformed his body, but also his mind and spirit.

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