I have been thinking a lot lately about running, friends, life, and everything else. Running is something that has (since I started) always given me happiness. I remember the two biggest moments in my athletic career before I started running was the last games I ever played in lacrosse and football. Too bad both were losses. Lacrosse was the state semi-finals and football was the playoffs. It always sucks ending with a loss. But what was worst was trying to figure out what to consume my competitive nature and team atmosphere with. I lost that for many years. I was completely lost after high school. I didn't have the competition and most importantly I didn't have the camaraderie. The grind of two-a-days. The pain of wins and losses. The emotions of giving everything you have on the line with other people. I missed that a lot. I never really found that.
Until I found running. And not really until I found #trainjanda. And most importantly my running partners. You don't really figure it out until it happens. You don't really feel the emotions and bonds of these people until that we make over training runs it just happens one day. If it’s while you are running in First Landing State Park and your crappy past comes swarming in your head and you break down. Or when you are hammering tempo miles repeatedly and your partner stops and breaks down. Or when you are running with a new team member and she starts to cry and hyperventilate. This happens and that is what makes running friends so important. You don't know it until it just happens but these are the people who are there when you need a laugh, a cry, a hug, or just a hard damn run.
You see these emotions sometimes too rarely. Some people don't feel it until the race day when we cheer everyone on and we bond over cold shitty weather. But the reality is these real emotions and the bonds are what make these friendships and memories. We talk about marriage, kids, life, death, love, friendships, bodily functions, and a whole gambit of funny stuff and sometimes real shit. But we are always there when we need it.
When I run, I enjoy it more with company. The painful slog of every run is always better with a partner.
When I race, I am racing for them. I am racing for my tempo partners, my hoez, and #teamawesome. And I know they are all running for each other too.
Sometimes shit gets in the way of training and running. Sometimes shit gets in the way of life. It can be dramatic, painful, and sad. It can be as simple as an injury. And sometimes it can be something bigger than you can ever imagine.
I remember when I was 20 years old, I ran a 5 member relay with my dad and his friends. My dad’s running buddy from when he was 18 had been fighting colon cancer. We had two teams of five running the Detroit Free Press Marathon (it was my first running medal). I still remember the feeling I got passing my section during my first full marathon this past fall. But the relay was awesome. Even though my dad’s best friend couldn’t run, he was there supporting us. Cheering us on. I remember as a kid, watching him and my dad, after their first marathons together, in pain, hobbling around, drinking a beer. You could tell in both their eyes what that day meant. It was the result of many tough miles together during training and that moment will never be erased.
Just as running was my dad’s answer to competition and friendship so has it been mine. Without I would be lost. Without my friends I would be completely lost.
The best part of running friends is that we will always be there for each other. Through the easy, the hard, the unthinkable, and the unimaginable.
So sometimes you need to re-analyze your goals, pace, and life in general and just enjoy the miles together. No matter how hard they are.