What is it about running with someone that sets the stage for a life long friendship? What exactly takes place between those first few steps on the pavement and the sprint to the finish that seals a sisterhood like red plasma seals a blood brother? I have made many a friend through school, work, Church and the mom community, but none of them have come with the intimacy strictly reserved for the person accompanying me through the miles of sweat, endorphines, and sometimes even a PR.
My relationship with running itself was grown with friendship as its fertilizer. For two years of college, I ran 3 days a week with the very person who helped me fall in love with the sport in the first place. When she graduated, my runs dulled except for the rare occasion when I could conjure up a comrade to accompany me for a few hilly (and often snowy) miles. What can I say? It was a small school with maybe a handful of runners. Returning to Georgia after scooping up my diploma, I fell into Fartleks with a new running buddy and this unlikely candidate of my friendship soon became the person to train with me through the Marathon. Even since leaving me for the Marines, she remains a dear friend and our yearly visits bring us up to speed on each other’s lives while we cruise along the sidewalk of a favorite running pastime.
Bridget (my first Georgia running buddy) indulging in a Caribou Coffee after a 5.7 miler back in the day.
With the end of our running partnership, a new one was born, and after that, a new one and so the pattern continues to this day. 13 years of running through laughter, tears, worries and cheers. 13 years of running through the heartbreak of a friend’s divorce, the loss of a baby, the joy of a birth, the scandal of an affair, the ecstasy of a promotion, the loss of one’s religion, and so on. There is no amount of laughter over wine or tears over whiskey that could fill the space reserved for the whispers exchanged between two runners carving their way through a wooded trail. What is this spell cast by this all encompassing sport? Where does this seemingly unbreakable bond emerge from?
I don’t know, but I love and cherish every moment of it.