I have crossed the Tough Mudder full Finish line 6 times. I completed 15 miles at a Toughest Mudder. My bench press PR is 225. My 10K PR 1:33:23. I train 5 days a week.
More often than not, I do not consider myself an athlete. Most often, I consider myself a fraud. A farce. A pretender.
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of an athlete is: a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.
I am surrounded by athletes every time I step up to the start line at Tough Mudder. I look around and see people who are WAY more qualified to do this than I am. I look around and wonder who’s going to fall to the back of the pack and will likely become my buddy to get through this.
When I talk to people about Tough Mudder, I often wonder what they think of me. I wonder if I’m one of the people that others say are ruining the sport because I take too long or can’t finish certain obstacles.
I wonder if I should even step up to that start line at World’s Toughest Mudder.
This morning I had a very frank conversation with a good friend of mine. She was talking about how she doesn’t feel like she should call herself a ‘runner’ because of reasons X, Y, and Z. The reasons don’t matter, what matters is that she is a runner.
She commits the time to train. She does the races. She does the thing. And she does it well.
She is a runner. And I told her as much.
Then I told her about my own struggles with the term ‘athlete‘ and my feelings of being a ‘fraud‘. And she responded: ‘I think that you are the face of what Tough Mudder is.’
This hit me in a way that I can barely describe.
As someone who spent most of her life on the outside looking in, I’m used to not being included in groups. It’s a little ironic because I’ve been blessed with friendships and being part of groups that I learned later were considered the ‘cool kids’.
I was never a cool kid though. I was always the fat girl in the back of the class chewing on her hair.
And sometimes I still feel like that girl. But more often than not, the women that I am now pushes my way forward and is willing to get out there and talk to strangers and make friends and join in on conversations with people I don’t know.
While there will always be someone faster, stronger, quicker, a million ‘-er’ things than me, I will still continue that steady forward march towards my goals and my finish line. While it’s very unlikely that I will ever podium at any event I participate in, I am still an athlete.
I am not a fraud. I am not a farce. I am not a pretender. I am an athlete.