The Velveteen Runner

In Margery Williams’ classic The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real the following discussion takes place between the Velveteen Rabbit and the Skin Horse:
“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

For some time now I have struggled with fully embracing the idea that *I* am A Real Runner. Never moreso than in the past several weeks while I haven’t been able to run. Oh I’ve put forth the rhetoric of “Well, I must be a real runner because I have a runner’s injury!” But that’s felt forced and hollow at best.

Last night Rich and I were on our way to a meeting with the Race Planning Team for what I affectionately refer to as “My 5K” and as we were driving through a particularly beautiful subdivision, rather than commenting on the (ridiculously early blooming) Azaleas and landscaping and whether or not I would have chosen that color to paint the shutters and trim on the house, I heard the following statement fall out of my face: This street would be a pisser of a run! in reference to the rolling hills we were driving up and down.
After a beat of stunned silence I said “Well dang. I must be a runner now!”
He laughed.
I giggled a little bit. Kinda the way newly-minted thirteen year old girls giggle the first time they’re asked their age and get to say “I’m thirteen!”  But even with that it wasn’t Real for me.

But today.
Today The Realness of me Being A Runner hit me right smack between the slightly-tear-filled eyes.

On Sunday my husband is running his First Half Marathon!
And I am more excited for him than that one little exclamation point might indicate. I am like a bajillion exclamation points excited for him.
He’s been a runner for thirty years, and this is his First Half.
He’s playing his excitement pretty low-key, but I know it’s there.

I was typing up an entry for my online journal and when I got to the “Yeah, I’m really okay with not running this one with him and getting my own Finisher’s Medal because there’s the Air Force Half in September and The St. Jude in December” lie part I got completely choked up and had to stop writing there to come and write this here. And as I was closing one Wordpad document and opening another suddenly that whole “being Real” thing from The Velveteen Rabbit started running through my brain and it finally and fully hit me: I Am A Real Runner.

So, for all my fellow Velveteen Runners out there, let me tell you How You Know You’re Real: You know you’re A Real Runner when you feel the pain of the race you can’t run when you can’t run it.
At least that’s how it worked out for me.

P.S. Of course I’ll be posting Proud Wife pictures of Dearest HCRP at His First Half-Marathon Finish Line on Sunday! Are you freakin’ kidding me?! I wouldn’t let you miss that for the world!

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