And yes, I am using the term "runner" quite loosely. But if it's defined as putting one foot in front of the other at a speed quicker than one's natural walk, then yes, I am a runner.
I ran a 5k over the weekend with friends and couldn't help but be reminded of my days as a runner on the Weston McEwen High School Cross Country Team. I wasn't fast (then or now, let's be clear) but because WM was a small school, the participants were needed to field a full team and I was a welcomed member.
Our high school team had a few members who were state-caliber runners (at least one went on to earn a running scholarship to college) and they were sweet enough to tolerate me. I wasn't fast, but I never gave up and I really did learn a lot and enjoy our time together. Hill repeats, sprint drills, long runs, and team building/encouraging exercises were a part of what we did at practice every day. And team sing-alongs, hair braiding sessions, and spaghetti dinners kept us bonded and in good spirits before meets.
Practicing for the recent 5k with friends reminded me of how fun it can be to train with others. There was no hair braiding or singing (maybe next time?) but there was a sense of team comradery that I've missed. I'm definitely hoping we can keep on running together.