“I run…because it makes me feel like the version of me I like the most!” EM
Long time Whippet Jessica Horani has been a member of the team since 2011. A lawyer by profession, and runner by passion, Jessica has been an active and faithful participant, and an engaging and delightful presence at Whippet events of all shapes and sizes.
The editor finds a particular meaning in her post today, as it describes many of the similar experiences he had as a “non-athlete” looking to fit in to a strange and mysterious environment. It has always been a vision of “Running Dog” that we not only publish race reports, etc… but offer up a true and insightful look into what it means to be a runner, and an individual facing the challenges of life through athletic activity. Jessica, many thanks for telling a story common to so many…
I am a member of a running team that has some pretty speedy runners; we aren’t called the ‘Dashing Whippets’ for nothing. But this isn’t about those top of the heap, super speedy runners who we all admire and look up to. This is about the underdogs of the Whippets. The ones who maybe weren’t runners in high school and college; or who didn’t start off as ‘natural’ athletes. Those of us who maybe only discovered their inner athlete in their thirties and even later. This is dedicated to all of us, the dashing underdogs!
I was a happy, active child when I was very young. A tomboy by nature I prided myself on playing with the boys as we played tag and hide and seek. I went on three-hour forest hikes in Germany with my Grandmother and loved ballet. Some of that happy-go-lucky natural childhood came to a screeching halt when my parents, both foreigners, moved with us back to the United States after living in the Middle East and we became the number one outcasts and pariahs among a school full of tight-knit ‘insiders’. Never much into team sports we had landed in a school where team sports and popularity went hand in hand. I wore glasses and had always had an introspective and introverted streak and faced with a school full of kids screaming at me in Gym class to ‘PASS THE BALL!,’ I started to fear and hate gym class and took on the role of bookish nerd. I pretended to have forgotten my gym clothes to get out of class, choosing demerits or writing essays instead. I stayed indoors and read in the library during recess, which was great for my appreciation of literature but kept me fearful and shy of boisterous social situations.
In my twenties I shook off my former ‘nerd’ persona, choosing partying and drinking as a way to finally prove that I too could be one of the ‘cool’ kids. I went overboard and after a failed engagement hit a point where my life needed a total overhaul. On my own in Miami, Florida I started walking along the beach as a way to get some exercise and fill my now party-free days. I had a gorgeous route that took me from my apartment to the beach and back and I power walked until I could add a bit of running in and then ran/walked and then ultimately ran the whole way. My workouts wavered off and on at times until I moved back up to New York City again in 2008 and at some point started running again. My new fiancé and I signed up for our first real race ever together in 2009, the Prospect Park Turkey Trot. We started the race getting there late, and were bickering at each other in the beginning until he took off ahead of me and I was left to just run. That was when I discovered the truly restorative effects of running on your mental sanity! We finished the race happy as can be, the bickering and fighting long forgotten and we both were hooked.
Fast forward a few marathons, several halfs and a dozen or so road races later and I’ve just gotten a PR in the New York City Marathon of 4:03:37. I had a prior disastrous run in the 2011 NYC Marathon with an IT Band injury and this race finally shook off the ghost of that past race. I have a love for the competition and rigors of running road races as well as the camaraderie with my fellow teammates and other runners. This race wouldn’t have been possible without my teammate Otto Lam who led the way pacing as well as the other runners who were running with us and who I got to know along the way.
At some point the race got introspective for me again. I was behind from the 4:00 pace group and I was now running my own race. Even among the sea of runners and spectators around me, I was at that moment alone in my thoughts. My hips ached, my knees ached, and my left foot was in pain with every step. This was the first marathon that I never walked; I ran the whole way (except for a necessary bathroom break!) and towards the end I had to try to disassociate from my body to tell myself to keep.on.running, even though my body just wanted to quit. The girl who dreaded gym class, who was called a wimp and a weakling, was taking on the pain of the last few miles of Central Park and refusing to stop. I didn’t meet my goal of a sub four time; but I came close enough to know that I will continue to try and will meet that goal someday soon. Now, when I look at the photos of me running; I see that happy young kid again. I see an athlete. I see a ‘Dashing Whippet’.
This post is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Dashing Whippets Running Team, its board, or its captains.