This past weekend, I ran my 3rd Ragnar race in less than a year. Let me preface this by saying: I hate running. Yup, I do. As a matter of fact, I do not even remotely like it. So, I can imagine you’re wondering that if I do not like it, than why do I do it. The answer my friends is simple: Because I can.
It doesn’t matter what I run, how fast I run, or how far I run. I run because I can. Despite 3 major knee surgeries and a 4th looming in the very near future, I run because I can. Even carrying a few extra pounds, I run because I can. I run because my body resides within a beautiful vessel of power that allows me to feel the wind in my face, the dirt beneath my feet, and the heavens above. I run because I can. Most of all, I run because until I physically cannot there is something primal within my soul that that just says “GO”.
For me, running is a way of telling the universe and my body “Thank you for the gift of movement.” I see running as a way to pay homage to all those beautiful souls who cannot run. I run because I can.
However, for all the love I have for each and every Ragnar race, the one thing that really hurts my heart is this concept of glorifying the “kills”, also known as the people you pass on the road or trail. In the Ragnar Relay road race the team vans will boast their kill counts on the outside like a badge of honor while others at trail have posters noting runners they pass on the trail. Well, let me tell you a little about me—a person you killed on the trail this weekend:
My name is Arielle Miller and I am a teacher, daughter, sister, friend, and fiancé to an incredible man. I was a college athlete with a bad attitude who found yoga and it saved my life. I love trying new things and pushing myself and that means running even though I don’t really like it [or one may argue that I actually do and I cannot seem to accept it, who knows?].
Running is really hard for me. Aside from the obvious fact that running is difficult period, I also have a knee injury. As a matter of fact, even walking is very painful and I am constantly in a great deal of pain. As a result of my knee injury, over the last year, I have had to take a break from the things I love like Olympic lifting while at Crossfit and running Spartan Races.
Every step I take while running is a carefully calculated movement to preserve my body and keep it safe. But in addition to having to step back from high impact types of exercise, over the course of this year, my personal yoga practice has suffered due to the lack of stability and mobility in the joint. There is nothing worse than being a fitness instructor and losing the ability to use my body in the ways I love to express myself. I have had to fight my frustration and anger and channel my energies differently. For me, I made a choice to be a victor and reclaim my body, rather than wallow in self-pity. I decided that no matter what I have going on physically, emotionally, or mentally that I am going to show up to these races with an open heart. What’s more, not only will I show up, but I will celebrate this body that I have for all of its glory and I am going to run. And I am going to run no matter how hard it is, how painful it is, and how long it may take me. I am going to run because I can.
This person that you killed this weekend…Her name was Arielle and she had a story.
Each and every runner we encounter in our travels has a story to share with the world. If gloating about your kills is your way of writing your tale, than so be it. But ladies and gentleman, in the story I am writing it is not only the greatest athletic comeback in history, but it is one of compassion.
It is my hope that as an athletic community we can continue to elevate and inspire one another to dare to be great through positively means. As Ragnar races and the amateur racing circuit continues to evolve, remember that like you, each and every person there showed up for the same reasons you did: To have fun, grow, and run. Let’s continue to build people up instead of tearing them down for the simple fact that you’re faster than someone. I mean, let’s be real about this—just because you’re faster than someone doesn’t make you better than them in any capacity.
And the way I see it, together WE run.