Are you still running?

Not only am I terrible with names but I’m not much better with faces. I need to meet someone a couple of times before my brain stores their information, their name, face, where we’ve met. And context? Yes, please. If I meet someone Bill works with at the Whole Foods prepared food counter I don’t immediately recognize him/her at Starbuck’s a month later. If I run into a friend of a friend who I’ve met several times, but not in the last five years, I’m not quick with their name, have to root around my brain trying to tease it out of my grey matter.

When I see someone I haven’t seen in a while, anyone who’s known me for the last fifteen years, they almost always ask “are you still running?” immediately after “hello.”

IMG_4336 (2)

Running my first marathon in Mystic, CT when I was 40

Until now, I’ve been able to say “yes,” with confidence. But, this year I’ve scaled way back. I haven’t run any races since the NJ Marathon (not that I race them), don’t have plans to run any the rest of the year. I’ll be skipping the New Haven Labor Day 20K for the first time since I started running the course in 2001.

A couple of months ago I started meeting a friend twice a week, Tuesday and Friday mornings, at 5:30. It’s been rough getting up at 5:00 am, mainly because I’m out of the habit of early to bed, early to rise. But, once I’m up I’m ready to go. And running with my friend, sharing secrets, solving our own and each other’s problems in that first hour of the day is a great way to start it.

But when I get asked “are you still running?” I hesitate.

The correct answer is “yes, I’m still running,”

I want to say “yes, but here’s the caveat.”

“I’m still running but not as much as I was when you last saw me.”

“I’m still running but not training for anything, no marathons, no half marathons.”

“I’m still running but not enough to stave off gaining 10 lbs.”

All true statements. But also true? Nobody’s scrutinizing my activity level and nobody cares. People are being friendly, asking about something they know I enjoy, making small talk. They’re not interested in how many days I run, how many miles I log, what my average pace is (unless they’re another runner).

Ego. I’ve got one. And it’s huge at times.

I know people are being polite when they ask me if I’m still running. Most aren’t sure if 5K is more or less than 5 miles, think running either distance is an achievement; they’re right.

So, next time I see that woman who looks familiar, the one I’d see walking her dog on my street before moving out of the neighborhood 7 years ago, and she asks me if I’m still running I’ll tell her yes. Then I’ll ask her, hopefully by name, what she’s been doing and how her dog is.

31 replies

  1. I can honestly say that no-one would ask me that question, and if they did, I’d know for sure they hadn’t a clue who I was. 🙂 I get asked, “Are you still playing piano” to which I would have to admit, “Yes, but not as much as I used to.” I’m also terrible at remembering faces. Great photo of you the runner! 🙂

    • Thanks, the photo is a photo of a plaque my ex made for me to commemorate my first marathon. It’s funny how people associate us with what we do (I know I do the same thing). Nothing wrong with that, but I don’t need to feel guilty if I’m not doing ‘that thing’ I used to do as much as I used to. Glad I’m not the only one who can’t always remember a face or a name. 🙂

  2. This one hit home. I go to my husband’s reunion every 5 years. I’ve been there 4 times but there is an expectation that I will remember his former classmates. All of them (despite the fact that they aged — more grey hair or may less hair). Seriously! Then there is the question about something that was important in my past. I saw my ex-husband about a year ago and he made a comment about a hobby I had 30 years ago that I haven’t done in 20 years. My first thought was that he never was intuitive about me or that he didn’t think I would grow. Then I ended up where you are. He was trying to be friendly and it was meaningless conversation. I corrected him but I’m sure if I see him again 5 years he will ask the same question.

    • I’ve met Bill’s coworkers at an annual Christmas party. I told him both times to re-introduce me to everyone – do not assume I remember their names. Some of them came to his mom’s wake; they were out of context so I didn’t recognize them right away. Embarrassing! I’m not sure what tricks others use to remember me or my name but I want to know their secret. Yes, Kate, I think people are just trying to connect in a friendly way, I’ve got to stop overthinking this.

  3. Yeah I really like how you framed this Geralyn – you are a running, only on your own time and aren’t only defined by it rather than the goodness in your life. Yes your end thought process brings you back round to how is your neighbor or acquaintance you knew (at some time). Your ego is fine – you trained for many years and have run more miles than you can track, and more marathons than anyone I know, a right to have an ego. Bless your heart, you are a good person.

    I run, but not by your standards or a real runners standard – twice/weekly and if I’m lucky I’ll make 3 miles a run in the heat. But I know it’s good for me to sweat it out.

    • Thanks, Mary. My first time running the Boston Marathon was terrible. I had stomach cramps and missed my goal time…by a lot. I lamented and cried about that for days until a professional in the mental health field reminded me that I was the same person who finished the marathon as who started. Who I am is not defined by whether I run well or not. Ego! Running 3 miles, 2X/week is great! There’s no reason to run all those high miles unless we’re training. Better to be consistent, don’t you think? Any run is great therapy in my opinion. 🙂

  4. Good! Embrace your beautiful self and stop scurrying around for caveates!
    Boy, I can relate to your trouble with recognizing people. I’m better at faces but names absolutely terrify me and have kept me, at times, from social situations just because I feared I couldn’t introduce people. To top it off, I used to deliver mail. I did not have the same route everyday, but weekly I had the same set of routes. People would see me in the store (sometimes still in uniform on my way home from work) and they’d come up to me chattering away as if I could put the rarely seen face with the appropriate mailbox!

    • Oh, that would be my nightmare, Linda! I remember seeing someone at a party and saying ‘nice to meet you.’ She told me ‘we’ve met before.’ Oops. If we’re out and I don’t introduce Bill to someone we meet he knows it’s because I can’t remember their name. Sounds like I share this deficiency with some good company.

      • Yes, and I’m trying to train myself to hold out my hand and introduce myself right off the bat. I cover my tracks by saying, “Hi, I’m Linda. I think we’ve met, but darned if I can remember your name.” Of course, my innate shyness often trumps my desire to be proactive. Sigh.

  5. Well this really resonates for me. After doing my one and only marathon a few years ago, I do get asked a lot if I am still running. I never know what to answer as I do run a little, but not like back then. You are right. People are just being polite. I happen to be terrible with names as well.

  6. I think that’s the perfect way to approach it, because you are indeed still running. If they want specifics, they’ll ask for them and more detail will follow. 🙂

  7. Totally get this…tho not in the realm of running ( I have two left feet, but do well in hiking regardless!)
    peace as you continue running for as you say, “Running is running.”

  8. Love the picture of you Ger! Determination is written on your face. Hummmm! 497 nice number, lol. I celebrate and admire your accomplishments. Love u Mom

  9. What a great post Geralyn. It was really a nice read. I also am not so great with names. Really. I often have to ask more than once. Your morning routine twice a week with your friend sounds fabulous. I wish I could get up that early, but it’s never happened. Eek. I do get up early enough to do a bit of exercise and pray before anything else in my day though.
    Have a great week.

    • Thanks, Staci. I think those stolen moments in the morning (for running, exercising, praying, reading, meditating) are precious. I really love running with my friend, we have the best conversations. Glad to hear I’m not alone when it comes to remembering people’s names. I just hope it doesn’t get worse as I age! You have a great week, too!

  10. This is an excellent post. Your insight is right on. I would definitely say you’re still running. Since I’ve never been a runner, to me, what you do is amazing.

  11. That’s right. Running is running. People are searching for common ground and you know it counts whether it’s “competitive” or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s