They say running is the ultimate solitary sport. Lonely, even. But I have found it to be anything but.
Believe it or not, I’m still relatively new to the running community. I ran my first mile less than three years ago, and I’ve still got plenty of no-way-like-the-hard-way lessons ahead of me, I’m sure. But it rarely matters that I’m a newbie. The running community doesn’t care if you just ran/walked your first mile or just qualified for Boston — they welcome you with open arms, some friendly advice, and probably an invitation to swap stories over a post-run beer.
Most runners have never met a stranger when it comes to their sport. When there are hundreds of people gathered at the start line of a race — they all already know they have at least one thing in common. A conversation starter. A common bond.
As much as I’ve talked about the outlet running has become for me, it’s also been an incredible connector. I have made friends and connections — and learned a great deal about myself — through the relationships I’ve built participating in this silly sport of putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and over.
Last weekend, running was about those relationships.
No two people in that photo really run the same pace, we weren’t all running the same distance that morning, and no two of us even crossed the finish line together. Some of us work together, some of us are related — but we all have that one thing in common, just by meeting on a windy, Fayetteville morning at the nearest start line.
The Hogeye was my first marathon and it’s a hometown race — so it is certainly a sentimental favorite — but I just didn’t have it in me to run the full again this year. Jennifer decided to take this one off to volunteer so I convinced (coerced?) my friend David to run with me. (He was my client for a time, but he says I’m not allowed to call him my “client” anymore. Even though he showed up to the race wearing a P&G shirt…) He ran the Chicago Marathon a few years ago and hadn’t done a long distance race since then — so I downplayed the Fayetteville hills, played the it’s-only-a-HALF card and got him to click ‘register’.
As usual, Jeff was such a good sport — and familiar with both the town and the course — and he was able to jump around and find us to say hello during the race. He’s not in the above photo, but I’m waving to my littlest fan – there to cheer his heart out and make sure we had enough cowbell.
The heat snuck up on us, and David hung back after mile 9 to hydrate a bit so we separated and each finished our own race. The wind also picked up around mile 10 so I found some Eminem on my iPod, put my head down, and pushed through.
David and I had kept the 2:30 pacers in sight all morning and I was determined to keep up with them until the end. At one point, during mile 12, I even passed them and I was pretty excited. Sub-2:30?? I haven’t run a half that fast in a WHILE. And I was hanging on.
As I rounded the corner for the finish, I was just steps behind the pacers and I could tell by my watch I was SO close. So when Colt got tangled up with Tena while trying to get onto the course to run across the finish with me — I didn’t pause to untangle him. I waved and pushed to the finish.
I didn’t realize then, but he was determined to run! This photo has a lot going on, but you can see me just to the left of the woman in pink — and Colt running behind! Poor guy!
Official time – 2:30:26. 26 seconds! As usual, my watch has me running a little longer than 13.1, and I’m pretty happy with a 2:30. That’s 5 minutes faster than Bentonville the weekend before, and GREAT considering the lack of training I’ve been able to get in during the week lately.
Unfortunately, there was some sort of mix-up with the medals and they had run out by the time I finished. So I’ll get to celebrate all over again in a few weeks when I get it in the mail — and they passed out hog noses instead!
David finished a few minutes behind me and we raised our bottled water in a toast to a good run and good friends.
But, you guys. The real story of The Hogeye this year is my sister Becky. She has worked so incredibly hard over the last year — running, losing weight, and accomplishing some big, scary goals. She told me a few months ago she planned to do the Hogeye half — her first half marathon — and I was thrilled. A big goal, certainly, but attainable. And exciting.
She crossed that finish line with a huge smile on her face — and a 4-year-old goofball by her side…
I am unspeakably proud of her. She ran the race by herself, she often trains by herself — she has found the motivation to keep herself moving with a dozen other priorities and scheduling conflicts to juggle. Becky, you rock. And you inspire me. I’m glad I could be there for that.
After helping Becky hobble to the car, we finished off the day with a celebratory cheeseburger (my favorite post-race tradition) and a nice long nap. Thanks for a great day, Hogeye!
Stay tuned for part 3!
And speaking of great running friends — two people in the first photo keep blogs as well:
- Amanda has been blogging her way through 2013 at Coussoule 365. Specifically, check out her recap of Hogeye, here. She totally showed me up by posting hers THE DAY OF THE RACE.
- Greg blogs all things running at A Life Laced Up. He’s got such a wise perspective of running and what it can mean for both a healthy body and a healthy mind.
- For more, check out my list of favorite running blogs HERE. I don’t know most of these people personally, but they’ve all got some great stories to tell.
Ok. And one more thing! I swear! Last thing!
I completely forgot to mention in my Bentonville Half Marathon write up that I met a blog reader during the race! Somewhere during mile 4, a lady ran up next to me and asked, “is your name Sarah? I read your blog.” It made my day! We chatted for a few minutes before she (also named Sarah!) caught back up with her group. So hi, Sarah-from-mile-4! I hope we see each other at another race soon!