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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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Definitions

First of all, I hope you’re all off to the start of a great week! I had the most wonderful time in the Hamptons last week/weekend and I actually have this week off too. I’m flying to Portland, Oregon to see family on Tuesday night so I’ve got two days to regroup, relax and catch up on everything I missed in the blog world while I was on the beach! At the top of my list was:

A tasty RAW wild rice recipe from the incomparable Gena

An awesome cross training workout compliments of sweet Melissa

A sad farewell to one of my favorite blogs

So much happened while I unplugged, but I love having some time today to ponder such things as raw rice, the elliptical machine and the reasons we blog.

The last point has made me think a great deal and it’s something I want to expand on for just a few minutes. I was sitting here reading and thinking I should have lunch soon (at 3:30pm). I then got nervous because I didn’t know what I wanted, and worse, why I couldn’t pinpoint a food. I wandered into the kitchen, thinking “what if I wait too long and I’m not hungry when it’s dinner time?” and “what if I just snack on some granola, or cheese, or a protein bar?” I could feel myself winding up tighter and tighter. I didn’t want to eat because I haven’t exercised today. I was ashamed that I haven’t done this week’s training run. And then, a little voice spoke up in my mind. Why on earth should I be ashamed? What is my true motivation for running? And why do I feel compelled to race?

I’m going to say something that I’d never let myself acknowledge until about 20 minutes ago. And it’s still rocking my world. I run to define myself. I’ve spent my whole life trying to fit in, to be part of a group. I’ve defined myself by what I do – I read, I run, I overeat, I study and get great grades. My entire ‘About’ page is a testament to my unquenchable thirst for a definition of who I am. Everything I do is to further define myself:

I run to…be part of the running world. I want to BE a runner because it is admirable and “good” and, I’ve always secretly hoped, will make me thin and desirable. I run to lose weight so I’ll accept myself more. I set time goals because I hope they’ll motivate me to eat better, weigh less and, again, make me thin and desirable.

I’ve been so afraid to lose my runner label because then what would I be? If I wasn’t a runner, I’d be out of shape, lazy, boring, average. Why do I have to be one or the other? Why can’t I just be a person? Why do I have to fit into some group? I have to stop running from the labels I had as a child – fat, nerd, geek, ugly. I’m not those things anymore. But I’m also not any one thing either. I’m no longer going to define myself. Instead, I’m just going to embrace all the things I love. These things bring me joy, but only because they make me smile right now. Not because they make me who I am.

I love running on a cool, crisp autumn day. I love the crunch of leaves under my shoes.

I love my husband, and his unfailing faith in me, and the Yankees.

I love turtlenecks because they make me feel cozy and comfortable.

I love hot apple cider, but am scared to make my own and fail.

I love listening to the same songs over and over…and over and over.

I love my eyes. Even though I need to lean about 4 inches from the mirror to see them, I love their color and depth.

I love reading books for hours at a time. There’s something sacred about the power of the written word, even if it’s in the form of a cheesy vampire story.

I love all these things, but they do not define me. I am not a runner, a skinny chick, a fat kid, a nerd, a failure or any other label out there. I am me. I am constantly evolving, learning, falling, failing, succeeding and, most importantly, loving.

What things do you love? Do you truly love them? Or do you embrace them because you feel you ought to, or that they make you who you are?