Recently, Mama C posted answers to a blog quiz that she started five years ago. In 2008. Gulp. The juxtaposition of her partial answers from so long ago with her outlook now was fascinating to me.
And I got to thinking, how have my thoughts on running changed in five years?
Well, for one, I hadn’t started this blog yet. I was still “blogging” over on MySpace, but I don’t think we called it that then. I moved a few posts over when I started this ole thang. Didn’t post much in 2008. I blogged about my second ever half marathon – the Nike Women’s Half in San Francisco. That was an incredible day. Running was still all very new to me and I had recently discovered running with friends! Oh, how I loved this new running group.
Here’s how it went down: I took a speed class with a local run store, met Sare Bare in that class, thought she was awesome (cuz she is), she invited me to run with her friends weekday mornings, I did, bam, fun new runner friends. I still run with some of these ___ women to this day! (Boy Mom, Coach Swimmifer, I’m looking at you!) Before then, I really didn’t have a large circle of women friends. I had always been more of a “four quarters are better than 100 pennies” kind of girl. But forget quarters, these women are worth their weight in gold. These women have become some of my very closest friends, people who lifted my head up when I couldn’t do it on my own.
Back then, running and racing were the same thing – all negotiated at the exact same pace. Always able to keep a conversation – that was most important to us! We’d actually say, “I gotta slow down, I can’t finish my story.” Ha ha! Training at its best. But I loved every minute of those miles on the trail with my girls.
Distance was relative. Finishing my first half marathon, I felt like I’d won the Olympics. It never even entered my brain that I could finish a marathon, an ultra or, good golly Pete, an Ironman. (Still a little unsure about that one some days!) Five miles was as long way and double digits were reserved exclusively for the end of a training season. On Saturdays, we’d meet for bagels to refuel after our long runs. It was the companionship that refueled me more than any carbohydrate.
Times change, our goals get bigger. But what I get out of it has never wavered.
I’ve been a little down lately about my pace (slow) and not racing (hurt, training) and it has started to get to me a bit. Out for my run this morning, I saw the bobbing headlamps and reflective tape announcing the arrival of the local run store’s training groups. The same groups from which I got my start. Having been a coach myself, I probably know most, or at least some, of the coaches but in the darkness of pre-dawn, we passed each other with a slight raise of the hand and a breathless, “Mornin’.”
A few miles later, rounding the corner, preparing to stop for a light, a runner excitedly calls out from across the street, “TPG! Come run with us!” Squinting (as if that would help in the black of night) I answered, “Maybe! Who ARE you?”
I’m nothing if not friendly.
It was my dear friend Kat, manager of the local run store and one of my girls from all those years ago on the trail. She smiled so big and we managed a quick side hug, all while running. It made my heart glad to see her and my smile matched hers. We talked for a bit and she introduced me to one of her runners who is attempting her first 50K next month. I gave her the advice of boob ice. (If you only learn one thing from this blog ever, it should be that boob ice will make all the difference in distance running in the heat. Just cram some ice, wet paper towels, wet sponge, whatever, all down your bra. Boob ice. Write it down.)
We ran together for a few minutes until it came time for me to turn while they kept going. We called out our goodbyes as we went our separate ways. I ran home, smiling, because I had started my day seeing someone who is so very dear.
My life is so different now than in 2008. Different in only amazing ways. I could never have imagined any of this for myself. I was just an isolated, under-fit, under-dreamer finally embarking on a new challenge – running.
I had no idea how much running would change my life.
Running made my heart and my muscles strong but it made my resolve stronger. Running gave me a confidence I never knew I had. Running helped me realize that if you make a plan, you can accomplish anything.
You just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Step by step, you’ll get there. You may fall, you may cry, you might want to quit. Heck, you might stand still for a while, wondering which way to turn. But as long as you keep your eye on the horizon, your head will be held high and you’ll get where you’re going.
I promise you this.
And if you’re lucky, you might just meet some incredible people along the way.