A while back I wrote a post about Why I Run — with a selfish goal of having something to look back on during those inevitable times I question why I run. ?Today I was reminded of just how important the social aspect of running has become.
This morning I had the opportunity to run with Mary, a Nark Running Strategies teammate.?We run similar paces and have the same goals, so I was very excited to start running with her. We invited our friend Debbie to join us, and set out on a beautiful, yet muggy, morning.
The first 5 miles felt great and were filled with friendly dogs, cats and deer on our local Rail Trail. Unfortunately, we went out a bit too fast (it was a gradual downhill), and struggled during the warmer, uphill return. We got back to our cars at mile nine (Debbie’s scheduled distance), but Mary and I had three more to go. Had I been alone, I likely would have quit then. But Mary and I pushed each other through those last miles and got them done. The best part? Though hot and sweaty and uncomfortable, I still had a great time, and was grateful for the company.
On the drive back home, I reflected on other recent experiences with running buddies (in no particular order):
Big Sur International Marathon with Debbie
I upgraded to the full marathon the day before the race, which allowed me to run with Debbie. This was the best experience I have ever had at a marathon. Don’t get me wrong — I cherish the marathons Hubby ran with me. It’s just different when you know you’re slowing someone way, way down versus running with someone closer to your pace. ?We had no expectations for this race and enjoyed almost every minute of it. We laughed, took pictures, and soaked it all in. Big Sur now sits at the top of my favorite marathon list, thanks in large part to Debbie!
Steel Rail Half Marathon with Muriel and Steve
I met Muriel and Steve in my former training group, and they are two of the kindest, most supportive people I know. When I mentioned I was going to try to PR this race, they quickly offered to pace me. On race day, I decided against the PR and instead set a goal of a sub-2:15. Steve and Muriel wouldn’t allow me to look at my watch, and kept me preoccupied with stories and ongoing support. Mid-race, I decided I didn’t care what my finish time was, I was having too much fun! I have never felt so good during a half marathon. My fastest mile was my last, and my time was 2:15:45, within a minute of what I hoped for! Muriel is a strong proponent of Brooks’ “Run Happy” mantra, and she inspires me to do so every chance I get.
Pacing Cheryl at the Northeast Kidney Foundation 5K
I’ve gone on several training and virtual runs with best friend Cheryl, but this was my first opportunity to pace her in a race. She did amazing and I loved being able to push her to her limits and get her through to a course PR. I’ll be running with her for her first marathon in Miami in January and can’t wait to train and experience it with her!
10K PR With Erika
My first (to date, only) PR for the year is the Winter Series 10K in January. Erika graciously offered to pace me and I owe a large part of my success to her support and motivation. She told me stories, pushed me when I needed pushing, and got me to the finish line with a minute and half PR. Erika is also an amazing spin instructor and one of those people who you just feel privileged to know. You can?follow her adventures over at The Real Wonder Woman Blog (she’s a fellow Wonder Woman fan and Sweat Pink Ambassador too!)
Winter/Spring Training Runs with Rebecca, Nikki, Kristin, Laren and Cheryl
Our Wednesday night run group was awesome, and I miss running with these ladies. Coaching changes, schedules, and summer heat have prevented us from being together recently, but I’m hoping we can get back together in the fall!
Nark Running Strategies?Teammates
I have met such amazing people through the Nark team. Most run much faster than I do and some don’t run at all (they only take strength classes). They are always there to offer a smile, support, or comforting words when needed.
Son Zach and Nieces Amber and Kendall
When Gone for a Run introduced their Virtual Race Series, I had no idea it would spark what has become a fun tradition with my son and nieces. They love the bling, and I love that these races get them out and active. We have fun, ham it up, and celebrate with a Saranac Shirley Temple afterwards!
I have also met fellow runners through blogging. While I don’t actually run with them, I love reading about their ups and downs through their posts. Faves are local bloggers Chocolate Runs Judy and Darlene of My First 5K and More. Kristy of Runaway Bridal Planner?has introduced me to so many fellow running bloggers in her Grow Your Blog Hop, shares my quest for running a marathon in all 50 states, and includes the most stunning photos in her posts and recaps.
Last, But Certainly Not Least, Hubby
I met and fell in love with Hubby?through my first training group. The majority of my PRs are from 2012 when he trained and ran with me. I love being married to someone who understands the ups and downs that come with training, can help decipher the jargon of our more complicated workouts, and shares a love of seeing the country through races.
This list is not exhaustive, and I apologize if I’m leaving anyone out. I am truly blessed and grateful to be part of such a wonderful running community!
Do you have a network of running buddies or are part of a support/training group? ?If so, what do you love most about it?
Do you prefer to run alone?