More than twelve weeks ago I convinced a long time friend of mine to join me on a journey. It’s a journey I have been on before a few times alone, and I realized that I wanted it to be different this time. It would require a partner . . . a really great one. My friend and I have been through a lot together over the years. College, weddings, babies, brokenness, plenty, laughter and pain. One thing I knew about us both, we were incapable of giving up even in the face of insurmountable odds. We’d both been to hell and back in our own ways, and neither of us came away bitter. Somehow, we came away with hearts more tender toward God, more grit, more laugh lines, more love, more grace. Who better to run a half marathon with?
My friend has never run a half marathon. When I posed the idea she was a little leery. To her surprise, her husband jumped right on board and told her to go for it. So we began. We’ve both been running going on three years. Admittedly, wed both fallen off the running wagon for a bit. Hard to believe that as we began training 3 months ago, we struggled to run three miles without walking.
Week after week we trained on our own time with Saturday morning long runs. On my weekends with kids we ran in Piedmont while her awesome husband kept all (SIX!) kids, using our oldest children for water stops and rewarding us afterwards with bacon and chocolate milk. On weekends when my kids went to their dad’s, we ran in Edmond eventually joining the RunHers women’s running club.
It’s become our pattern or habit or whatever you’d like to call it to have “adventurous” runs. Cross country one week, dodging animal poo and cactus, trail running another where there might have been an unfortunate fall and “great” advice from another runner to “pick up our feet.” Thanks, Mister. There was snow . . . and another fall. Icy mist where we came home to numb faces, 20 mph winds that resulted in a double ear infection for me, and one week where I was sure I had miscalculated the miles by 2 or 3 but thankfully ended up being spot on. We’ve bonked and wanted to give up. We’ve gone from being the slowest to improving our pace by two minutes since training began and improving our endurance to being able to run more than 5 miles at a time without walking breaks.
Now we’re only three weeks away from our race day. I am so emotional. I am excited to get to this point, delighted with our progress, but sad to see this journey end. Today we ran 11 miles in the face of a week that had been full of sadness and disappointment. Still, we met this run with joy in our step and determination in our hearts. As we rounded the bend into mile 11 I had an epiphany, this was not the end . . . this race was another beginning. Training for this race has given a long time friendship a breath of fresh air. It has reminded me that though I am another year older, my spirit feels younger than ever.
In three weeks we will finish our race strong and think ahead to bigger races and many more adventures. Friend, I know you are reading this, and I cannot tell you enough what an inspiration you are to me. I asked you to dare to do a half marathon, but you have dared me to do better than I could have ever hoped for. Thank you.