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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Feeling Half Crazy

You have to be at least a little crazy to sign-up for a marathon or half-marathon in general, never mind signing-up to run one of these babies during one of the coldest months of the winter in New England. The Hyannis Half-Marathon, which takes place annually in February, is a fantastic road race that Ross and I have run a few times. Ross’ grandmother and aunt live right in Hyannis, so we have a free place to stay on the Cape, great company to visit, and it’s always a nice little motivation to get out there and keep running despite the weather in the weeks leading up to it.

That was in the past though. Remember the good old days, when snowstorms meant 10 inches, not feet? Back in the day when you had the option to run on a treadmill when the weather was too bad to run outside. You might hate the treadmill, but you at least had this option because you could still get to the gym to get on that damn treadmill, because the MBTA was running and the gym was open. This winter did not just shut down runners and their gyms, it shut down the whole city. It also, unfortunately shut down the Hyannis Half Marathon for the first time since 1994.

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In my 10 years of running road races, this was the first time a race I was signed-up for was cancelled. I guess that’s not a bad ‘track’ record (running joke). I also, due to the weather craziness, did not go crazy training for this. I can’t remember the last time I ran longer than 6 miles at time. Still, I’ve been somewhat looking forward to this freezing cold, difficult distance event – it’s been way too long since I’ve challenged myself physically in a race, and I actually did want  a reason to force myself to be outdoors breathing in fresh air for more than 2 hours.

What hurts even more is getting burned on those entry fees! I get that they have already dedicated time, money and resources into making the even work up until the last minute. I’m sure that the agreement I signed upon entry stated ‘no refunds’ – still the fact that I lost over $100 (from both mine and Ross’ entries) due to the fact that the event was cancelled really sucks. They did offer a $15 discount off another race in their series, but honestly $15 isn’t that much of an incentive and I think it’s too soon to be promoting your other events while simultaneously telling me you aren’t refunding me for the current one. I read this as “We are keeping your money and you get nothing in return, but don’t worry, you can give us more money!” Thats about as logical as signing-up for a distance event in Hyannis in February 😉 I guess they know their audience.

I’m still feeling half-crazy though, and I look forward to signing-up for another race, preferably in a tropical climate, soon.