For the past three-and-a-half years, almost any new friend I have made is a runner. We, well, run in packs.
That’s because runners are a great, friendly and supportive bunch. (They also don’t care if you stink, burp, fart or talk about bodily fluids.)
Many of my new friends run A LOT. My friends Brandess and Shannon for example, have been known to run ultramarathons (anything over 26.2 miles).
According to Running USA’s annual Marathon Report, we’re in good company. In 2013, there were 54,100 marathon finishers, with 57 percent men and 43 percent women. Almost half — 47 percent — were 40 and older.
It is in this context that I set out to prove to myself that I, too, could run a very long distance. And I did on Sept. 20, 2015, finishing the Capital City River Run in a little under six hours.
Because I am surrounded by runners, I just knew that I would finish the race if only I put in the time and followed a plan. I had a few moments of doubt. I am human, after all. (Shhh. Don’t tell my family or employer.)
Any doubts were immediately dispelled whenever I spent time with my running friends.
These were the people who met me at ungodly hours on Saturday mornings, but who also ran part of the race with me, cheered me on or left encouraging messages in chalk on the route.
My non-running friends didn’t quite get it. In fact, their congratulations came in tones typically reserved for people who are a bit unstable. Or crazy.
It was as if they were thinking this little hobby of yours is going to kill you. Good thing now you can go back to running for fun and eating donuts. (Not a bad idea, I must admit. I do surround myself with some very smart people.)
This experience cemented my appreciation of my friends who run. Because they not only understand why I do this, they join me. Encourage me. Revel in the minutia of marathon training — from what to eat and drink for fuel to where to apply Body Glide to prevent chafing.
I’ve spent the past week recovering and thinking deep thoughts about my running. I’m itching to put another race on the calendar, but have forced myself to take the time to reassess what’s next.
And while I may be deciding what kind of a runner to be, there’s no doubt of who’s going to be taking those steps beside me. Thanks, friends.
Who are your most-favorite running friends? Why are they so special?