Before the summer of 2012 I had never run with anyone. I’m talking never. I didn’t want to. I had issues with running with others. I even simultaneously trained for a marathon with my husband, but never once ran with him. It is true that I rarely run without my dog, but as wondrous as she is, she’s not human. And I have participated in sports that running was a part of, but I hated it. Even when I ran XC in high school, I think I rarely enjoyed it.
But I’m a horse of a different color these days.
For 2 years now I have been running on Tuesday nights. With others. Other moms, other women who live nearby. At first I was totally anxious about this. For a few reasons, probably none of which are radically different from any other person’s. Here’s my reasons, and here’s how it played out:
Reason 1. Speed. I’m not always fast, (possibly never) and I wasn’t sure if my running friends would run at the same pace. Or be willing to change theirs. Or that I would be able to change mine.
BUT I really, really wanted to meet some like-minded mammas. So, I sought them out. I belong to a MOPs group and at the beginning of the 2012 summer I got in front of the whole group and invited anyone who was interested to workout and run with me. Anyone. (it was a big group, I thought there had to be someone!)
Celeste was the first one to show up. She looked all sleek and strong, like a greyhound. She talked of longer distances, and 9-minute-miles, and I was totally intimidated. It was not love at first sight. But it was loyalty at first step. She and I have been going strong now for almost 3 years. At first it was tricky. Celeste and I are quite different. I’m loud and sometimes pushy. I’m excited and jump around a lot. Celeste is zen. She’s calm and peace, gentle and kind.
If I were a thunderstorm she’d be a rain shower. If I were a lion she’d be an owl. If I were a Toyota Tacoma she’d be a Toyota Prius.
Could someone so full of grace and patience and good gas mileage like me???? And I assumed she would have to like me a little in order to want to run with me.
Reason 2 I was scared of running with others: Do people want to talk to each other when they run??? Would Celeste want to talk? Should I talk?? Would I be able to talk? (I’m usually too busy gasping for breath) What the heck?? I didn’t know!!!! It was a little scary.
But after a summer of Red Rocks circuits and trail runs I was sold. I wanted to run with her. Always and forever. Sure, we weren’t totally settled on how much or how little to talk, but it was working itself out. And our pace was good. I still feel like she can indeed run faster than me, but she seems happy to tone it down a little, and I am happy for the challenge.
There are SO many nights in the winter I’d never set foot outside if it wasn’t for her. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted the following: “It’s snowing….should we go? I really don’t feel like going…..”
And she says, “I’ll go if you go!”
And there we go.
And it works both ways. There are nights I’m dying for a run, and she’s not, and because of me she goes. It’s beautiful.
And let’s talk about Gail. I’ve been running with Gail for almost a year now. She whooped me in our first half marathon together last summer. I was smitten 🙂
Here’s what Gail gave me. A little over a month ago, there were 3 of us out for a run. Gail told Celeste and I that we were good at hills. It was a simple statement. Nothing poetic, intuitive or expert about it. It was not even a sentence with a large number of words. I can’t even remember the exact words. Are you ready for it?
“You guys are good at hills. You keep the same pace.” ~Gail Monroe, 2014.
No, Gail is not a Certified Master Hill Runner. She’s not even an apprentice. Yes, she can run hills just fine, she’s a great runner, but her words technically don’t have anything special backing them. But I have been hanging onto this one statement like it is pure gold. I can’t forget it. I won’t forget it.
Pure verbal gold.
Literally every time I have started a hill since hearing those words, I think of Gail. I think that if she thinks I can do this, if she thinks I am good at hills; then I must be. There is no gray here, there is no doubt, there is no questioning her words. They are solid. They are right. They are truth. Gail’s words are immutable, irrefutable, LAW.
And if I didn’t run with others, I’d never have been given this verbal gold.
Worth the anxiety? Yes. Emphatically YES.
I’m holding Gail partially responsible for my recent half-marathon PR of 2:09:22. More than 15 minutes faster than 2 of last year’s half-marathons! So, what did I do different? Well, I decided to “run.”
No. Really. I think that’s it.
My usual strategy for a race over 6 miles is slow and steady. I’m always afraid I’ll just blow all my energy in the beginning and then be crawling across the finish line, shamed for life. For this race, don’t ask me why, but I decided to set a pace, much faster than normal, and just see how long I could stick with it.
I set a goal of 2:10.
*How cool is that temp tat!!!?*
Last fall I *think* I did a half around 2:10, but my timing chip was on my shoe wrong and my Garmin didn’t start at the start…and blah blah; I was only guestimating my time. Because there was no visual proof of the 2:10ish time, I truly doubted it ever happened. And all winter my pace has been MUCH closer to 11-min-miles, reenforcing my doubt. So, aiming for 9:55 min miles was a little risky indeed.
But I was feeling frisky! Risky!! I decided just to go for it. And I nailed every. single. mile. Even the 2-mile-long Holy Hill. And I felt SO good the whole time!! There was no dying, no crying and no crawling anywhere! When my cousin met me at mile 10 and offered to jump in to keep me going, I told her to wait for my other cousin because, and I can’t believe I am quoting myself on this, I said….”I got this!! I am SO on it!!!!”
I really said that.
At mile 10.
Running a minute faster than normal.
Who was I that day???
Mentally Tough Girl, that’s who.
And…this is the nugget: I was able to be mentally tough because of my running friends. Yep. I said that.
Those girls, the ones who hold me accountable, the ones who give me verbal golds, the ones who push me and cheer me on, the ones who intimidate me and run faster than me, are why I do better.