What makes an athlete?

I don't consider myself an athlete at all, but a bunch of my friends are. They regularly run 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and even full marathons. I can't run [grumble grumble stupid ankle], but of course there are athletic things other than running. I do bike a lot, I know. An hour a day, minimum, on days I don't go to the gym. 20 mile rides are becoming more of a norm. But I don't think that I qualify as an athlete. Not like they do.

So why not? I guess I don't feel like one because I know that my body is capable of so much more. I still struggle with hills, and my average speed is only about 13mi/hr [although it's steadily increasing, and I've been getting up to 17mi/hr on flat stretches]. But aside from hills, I don't feel like I'm really pushing myself. Despite living in a hilly area, the bike path is mostly flat so I don't get much practice with hills. [There are hills in the 2 miles to/from the bike path, and on my route to the gym, so I do get some hill practice in, but it's not a lot.] The rest of the ride is easy, even if it's over 20 miles. 20 miles isn't much, in the cycling world. I know that my body can do more.

Even though cycling is my exercise of choice [and has been for over five years], I've never participated in any races or even charity rides. The closest I've come to doing an "organized event" on my bike is Critical Mass in Chicago. I have plans to do organized rides, but they're far off in the future.

I guess my image of an athlete is just... not me. An athlete is someone who pushes their body to its limit, who's more fit than I am, who averages better speeds than I do. An athlete participates in races and charity events, and has a collection of medals to show their achievements. An athlete is not me: overweight, struggling to get up hills, taking time to enjoy the scenery. Or is it?