“Wow. This is really easy! We’re already at mile 18 and I feel as fresh as I did as when we started.” When my mom said those words to me it took a lot of energy to keep my mouth shut and let her comment just roll off my back. Her words were full of good intention, but the timing was just a bit off. Even with an ill-timed statement on her part, I was extremely grateful for her presence as my running partner that day. Plus, it gave us quite the memory that we laugh about to this day.
Going off of the theme I introduced last week, I wanted to continue the theme of running partners.
While living in Germany I had the amazing opportunity to be a part of an unofficial running club. Truthfully, I don’t know when it started, or who started it, but over a period of time a group of us began a community of runners. We all had different experiences, different paces, and different desired outcomes. In retrospect, there were few runs that we all went on together (if any). Yet we all still felt as though we were a part of the community. We would run the same races, have pasta parties together in the days leading up to the race(s) and be there for each other as we crossed the finish line.
Though the runs together were few and far between, this is the greatest running community I have been a part of. I think it provided such a beautiful description of what community is; people of different backgrounds, holding different talents and skills, coming together to encourage one another and make each other better.
Those in our running group continually gave me encouragement and support, which is something I am extremely grateful for. I can still vividly remember the encouragement I received one morning when going out for a run at 6.00am when it was dark and below freezing outside. It was a dreadful run where I had very little motivation to get out and run – but knew I needed to in order to stay disciplined in my training. As I was coming up on the second mile of my run, I could see three figures in the distance, also running. It turned out to be some in our community. Seeing them up and early with me gave me the encouragement I needed on that cold and dreary morning.
It is my intention throughout the next twelve months to put up a new post every Saturday. Each month will have a slightly different theme, the first being running partners.
The first running partner of mine I want to highlight is a close friend, Dan. We spent four years together in college and have remained close friends since. One of the things I greatly appreciate about running with him; he is a more talented runner than I am. Twice he has run a qualifying time for Boston. He has better endurance, better race strategy and better times than I do. Running with him pushes me to be a better runner. As we were both training for fall marathons in 2013, we worked our schedules to meet every Thursday for what we called ‘hills Thursday.’ It is exactly what it sounds like… a day dedicated to running hills. We would take off and go anywhere between 9-11 miles of pretty consistent hills. It was brutal. It was tough. It was amazing. With each Thursday I could feel my legs getting stronger, and on my weekend long run I could tell my legs were getting stronger as the miles piled on top of each other. It wasn’t uncommon for both of us to hit a bit of a wall around the 45 minute mark. Each time one would look at the other and say, “do we keep going?” Had I been running by myself the answer most likely would have been a simple and easy “no.” With a close friend pushing and encouraging me, as much as my body wanted to stop, I didn’t.
Another incredible aspect of this running partner is the sharing of life. For the past six months I have been blessed to listen to Dan as he processed through the reality of becoming a father for the first time. It brought me great joy to be able to ask questions and hear the thoughts running through his mind and heart. Two days ago Dan and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world. I’m pretty sure she is going to be a talented runner.