I’ve spent the better part of this week obsessing over today’s 10-mile run with my friend, Steve. I blogged about this in my post . Runs Well With Others? Check it out if you want to visit the mind of an obsessive worrier. After reading it you’ll be grateful for your own sanity.
Anyway, I set my alarm to go off at 5:45 a.m. Steve and I were to meet at 7:30 and I wanted to make sure I was awake, alert and oriented. I can’t form complete sentences without drinking coffee, so getting the caffeine was the first order of the day. Next was a bowl of oatmeal, protein powder and all-natural peanut butter. Soon I was good to go.
Steve and his fabulous wife were my Tae Kwan Do instructors back in the day, but as often happens, life got busy and before I knew it 10 years had past since we’d seen each other. We reconnected last year on Facebook but this morning was our first meeting in a decade. That meant we had a lot of catching up to do.
Steve is a man of his word and after about a mile I realized he was serious when he told me I could set the pace. He’s done the Country Music Half Marathon since 2006 and during training he’s never done a long run farther than 9 miles. So for him, today was all about mileage, not speed. God bless him.
As the miles clicked on we talked about all manner of things. It was great to hear about how his sons are doing. They are growing up to be solid individuals with strong moral character. We talked about spiritual matters as well as our jobs. We talked about what it takes to get in shape. I told Steve about my knee injury which led to surgery and nine months of a sedentary lifestyle complete with a 40-pound weight gain (those pounds, plus more are gone). We talked about gang violence and what can be done about it. We shared future goals.
The course we ran was new to me. It was very scenic and had nice rolling hills. It also had one monster hill that another friend of mine had warned me about. We were somewhere around the eight-mile mark when we hit that hill. I encouraged Steve to go ahead as I wanted to slow down even more. He refused, telling me we’d take the hill together. A young woman was running down and told us we were going up faster than she had. Love her!
When we finished the run I checked my GPS watch. Once home I referred to my training notes and learned we’d finished six minutes faster than my last 10 miler, which I ran only a few weeks ago. I also realized I had worried for nothing. I had a blast. Steve and I both felt that the time seemed to have gone by quickly. When I go on long runs alone I’m often aware of every minute that grinds by. This morning provided me another opportunity to step out of my comfort zone.
On my way home I stopped by my neighborhood Starbucks for a celebatory Skinny Latte. To my horror I saw a table full of women I knew. They saw me and waved. After I placed my order I stopped by their table. One of them asked me if I had just run eight miles. I demured and said, “Well, a friend and I actually just finished 10.” They wanted to know where I ran, etc. As I was chatting I used the “he” pronoun. One of the ladies said, “You mean you ran with a guy? I could never do that.” In my best “no big deal” voice I explained that we are both training for a half marathon and decided to do a long run together. Little did they know how much I’ve obsessed this week.
While I’ll always enjoy the think time I get when I run alone, I now realize that by never running with others, I’ve cheated myself out of good company and good conversation. Steve behaved so well, I told him I’d let him come along for a 12 miler.
After all, a lot of the world’s problems can be solved while pounding the pavement.