One of my closest friends is sort of training for a half-marathon… and so I am kind of training with her. She isn’t entirely sure she wants to run the actual race or that this upcoming season is the right timing, but she wants to start upping her mileage in case she decides to go for it. Since committing to solo long runs week after week is about as fun as drawing your own blood, she asked me to join her on the weekend long runs. While I’m not in half-marathon training mode myself, I love running with friends… and I sure like a new challenge.
What’s there not to like? Focused time with girlfriends. A common goal. Encouragement. The great outdoors. Crisp morning air. Husbands at home with the ninos. Endorphins. I love it all.
My favorite part is the journey of covering a distance with someone else. Because, it’s hard to ignore the allegory between life and running.
We all have a distance to go, places to arrive. And there is no guarantee that the journey will be smooth, fun or easy – in fact, it’s safe to assume that it won’t always be. There are bumps, inconvenient bathroom breaks, messy snot rockets, cramps, uphill battles, downhill sprints and victories along the way. The challenge (emotional or physical) of it all may overtake us at times. Other times the view overwhelms us and we must stop and take it in.
For better or for worse, I find the company of a friend to be irreplaceable. Because in both running and life, we need people to cheer us on, to appreciate the challenge, to soak up the view. Because we cannot high five ourselves when the victory is near. We need each other.
Our plan is to stick to our mid-week running schedules, which include a few 3-6 mile runs, and add a mile to our long runs every week or two. Once we reach 10 miles, we’ll probably maintain that distance as our long run.
Last week we ran 7 miles in Crystal Cove. Today, we ran 8 miles in Back Bay. (And we added another runner/best friend to our pack!) Next week it will be another 8 or 9 miles somewhere new. And while the thought of 9 miles sounds long and a little grueling, the assurance of a good friend, solid conversation and lovely encouragement is enough to make me lace up, show up and smile.
Speaking of half-marathons, have any of you a race to recommend? Don’t limit your suggestions to my local area; I would be willing to travel for a fun route. I ran the OC half years ago and wouldn’t want to do it again… it felt very, well you know, boring. 13.1 miles of Irvine surface streets get old really quick.