10 Years: An Ode to Friendship and Running

It was 10 years ago this month, in October 2005, that I ran my very first road race. It was the Lowell Sun Half-Marathon and a lot of people thought 13.1 was a crazy distance to start with. Since then I’ve done many, many races of all different distances, from 5ks to full marathons, but the halfs always hold a special place in my heart. It’s long enough that you know you need to prepare and train, but it’s not SO long that  you feel broken and completely exhausted after and you can really enjoy the experience and sense of accomplishment (and the post-race food and drinks, of course).

I didn’t just wake up one day and decide to run a half-marathon on my own though, I was fortunate to make a very good friend who turned out to also become a mentor/coach. At this point Jen had been in the fitness business for about a decade herself as an instructor and Personal Trainer.  She was my age now, and honestly looking back I have no idea how she put up with my 21-year old antics that included missing training runs due to crazy Saturday nights, or showing up for the run, late and hung-over AF. Luckily she did though! We finished our first half-marathon and just kept running from there… right into our first Boston Marathon together in 2006 (See pics below. Note that this is before there were smartphones, so the only images are the blurry ones I stole from the race photo site. This is also before the race photo companies got smart and put ‘Proof’ on the images on the site before you purchase them. Damn you MarathonFoto!)

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Running has changed my life- no doubt about it. I’ve met many of my close friends through running in some way, I even met my husband at a 24 hour relay race! I’ve had a job that took me around the world traveling and running marathons and meeting some of the coolest people ever. I have Jen to thank for a lot of this though, if it wasn’t for her constant motivation, friendship and advice I don’t know if I ever would have started or kept up with running.

The racing is actually a very small part of the running experience, at least for me.  A lot of the real magic happens during the training runs; where you and running partner talk about everything from relationships, world views, politics, gossip, drama, jokes, your deepest darkest secrets and biggest craziest dreams and most importantly, what/where you will be eating your post-run meal. Even the miles you log by yourself early in the morning or late at night, alone with your thoughts and the sound of your favorite music can be pretty magical (or if you’re like me, the sound of your breath and feet hitting the ground. I’m not so much a music girl when running, though check out my giant old-school headphones around my neck in the photos above. How old AM I? And how was I able to run like that without choking??)

I happen to LOVE running, but know it’s not for everyone. It’s made me more confident, healthier, more in tune with my body and those endorphins sure don’t suck. If you hate it, don’t do it. If you’re running just to lose weight, don’t waste your time. Sure distance running burns a lot of calories, but there are a lot more efficient ways to lose weight (cleaning up your diet, HIIT, and weight lifting are high contenders).  If you’re running to win… well good luck. For the majority of us distance runners we start a race knowing that we will never win it. In fact I’m usually not even half way through the course when the winner are finishing. It’s a humbling sport in that way. In my 10 years I’ve won first place in my age group once, in a very small 5k.

We didn’t run  fast today, usually our goal is just to finish and live to tell about it so we accomplished that! Although it wasn’t my best race time-wise I enjoyed it thoroughly and there is still no other way I would have rather spent this chilly Sunday morning than out on the roads of Newburyport with Jen, properly celebrating our 10 year run-iversary! It was also great getting to see some of my other runner friends out there. The running community and people are just amazing. This has been one of my longest life commitments yet, and I’m looking forward to celebrating many more years of friendship and running!

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