Alert! Berta is suffering from an identity crisis, but no wonder! She’s a marathoner, bike commuter, ironman (woman), biathlete, bike racer, trail runner, modern pentathaloner, black diamond skier, and hardcore….knitter?
2013 so far has been a year of personal crisis for me. I turn 40 in less than 30 days and that crisis started early. Ever since my USAC license showed up with 40 listed as my race age I have been thinking about where my life has been and what I have accomplished thus far and what do I want to do for my future. I think I may have had a few glasses of wine on January 1st when I decided that to celebrate my 40th birthday it would be fun to run the Steamboat Marathon AGAIN.
Let me back up and explain WHY the Steamboat Marathon. Back in 2003 when I had my 30th birthday crisis I decided it would be fun to run the Steamboat Marathon. The thing about this race is it generally falls directly on or just before my birthday, June 2. This year the race is on June 2. Back in 2003 I was a “marathon runner”. I had run several marathons already and jumping into the Steamboat Marathon didn’t seem like a big deal. I will never forget that race. I think the weather can be summed up by the quote from my friend Ian Wagner, a Steamboat local, when he proclaimed, “It never rains in Steamboat in the morning.” I slogged through puddles of water and my cute running outfit never made its debut until the rain slowed at approximately mile 20 when I took off the Hefty trash bag I was wearing until that point. I entered my 30’s sore and tired and swearing that I would never do that race again.
Yes, it must have been the wine talking when I clicked the “confirm entry” button on my 2013 race registration. I thought “For old times’ sake, who needs to spend their birthday at a spa”. Alas, here I am training for a marathon again but it is different. 10 years ago I defined myself really as a runner. Yah I rode my bike, skied, swam and did other sports but running was my passion and I was a runner without doubt. Since that time, I have entered the world of triathlons, cycling, and biathlon and have devoted many weekends to racing in these different disciplines.
On my last 15 mile run on the Highline Canal, I wore one of my “vintage” triathlon t-shirts. At the end of my run, there was a guy that asked me how far I ran and I let him know. Then he proceeded to ask me if I was a triathlete. As a cyclist I was offended, but then I had just identified myself as a cyclist. I had done a bike race just the day before so should I say “No, I am a cyclist.” But then I had just run 15 miles so that made me a runner. I haven’t run a marathon since 2009 so am I a runner? I stood there perplexed. This self-identifying crisis felt more fatiguing than the 2 hour run I had subjected myself to. I had to answer this guy something. What was I? I wanted to tell him that although I was a cyclist, I have run over twenty marathons, done 2 Ironman triathlons, and was the 2012-13 Colorado biathlete state champion and I like to swim.
Why did I need to label myself? Does it really matter “what” I am? It would not have taken away the fact I had just done a long run had I acknowledged one label over another. On my way home I could not shake it, what was my label. Then it came to me that whenever I do a sport, regardless what it is, I am sore afterwards. Whatever sport I am doing, I feel good that I am doing it and grateful that I can. Whatever sport I am doing I am usually going to have to take an ice bath afterwards to recover. Does it really matter what I am? Then it came to me, I am an “Athlete” an all-rounder, a jack of all trades a master of none. With my label settled in my brain by the time I got home, I proceeded to pull on my compression tights and thought, “does this make me a triathlete?”