In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Beth encouraged me to take the first few running steps down my path as a life-time runner. Today, I’ll write about how a girl who I never thought I’d know more about than her and her fiancé’s names and wedding date the first time I met them pushed the runner in me and started down the “Road to the Marathon” with me.
I met Sarah long before we became friends: I registered her and Chris at Bed Bath & Beyond. Then we met again in Pummill 401 (the English Department‘s Graduate Assistants office). We kind of started being friends the first semester of grad school, but our friendship really began when we started running together in the spring semester in McDonald arena. I think she needed someone to boost her into running longer distances, and I needed a running partner to help get me out of my slump, although I didn’t know it at the time.
When we first started running, I really enjoyed how much Sarah knew about health, and I think she liked my encouragement. I remember the day she mentioned that she’d like to run a 5k eventually. We had been running 2 miles that week, so I told her that a 5k is only 3.1 miles. I added, “Why don’t we just see if we can do 3 today?” And we did. The rest of that semester, we ran our miles, talked, and she showed me how to use the weight machines. (You all know what it’s like to be the only person in the gym who can’t figure the machine out, while all the buffed beauties walk by and snicker at you as they add more weights. Sucks.) We didn’t stay in touch during the summer, but she ran her first 5k and even took second place in her age category.
When school started back up in the fall, we started running and lifting together again. Our desks were next to each other, so we talked a lot, plus we took a web design class for tech writers. We spent almost every Friday together doing homework for the class, checking for typos and sytax mistakes.
It was the next spring semester that our running became very serious. Sarah mapped out our road to the marathon, thanks to the great support and publicity running has in the Springfield area: a 5k during spring break, a 10k in the June, a half-marathon in November, and then a full marathon in spring 2009. With the exception of a week off here and there for illness, injury, and vacations, we ran together four days a week from the middle of January until I moved away in late September.
When you find a good running partner, you will learn a lot about her. You don’t just plod along those miles silently! You talk. And you tell her things you didn’t think you would because you have four more miles to go and you need to talk to fight that pain in your knee. You listen and learn about her as she does the same thing.
And your running partner sees you at your weakest. When you feel like every muscle in your body is going to snap, your running partner tells you you can go on. When your mind is screaming that you are an awful runner, that you’re slow, that you’re tired, that you really want to walk, she says no, you can’t walk, “Push it, Linden. I know you can. We’re runners, not walkers.”
We ran that 5k, we did the 10k in the hot June heat, but that is where our paths diverged. I moved half a world away about 3/4 through our half-marathon training. Luckily, I found a half-marathon in mid-October and I ran it. Sarah continued on with an awesome showing in the Cohick Half-Marathon in early November.
But my running story is not over, and nor is my running story with Beth or Sarah. Life is so much better when shared with others, but sometimes, we have to forge ahead without the people who make us strong and cheer us on physically by our sides. So tomorrow I’ll write about the leg of this journey that will, by necessity, be all mine.