This is me. This is Geoff. Geoff likes to run. He likes to run A LOT. Like, hundreds of miles at a time or something. I think he runs 1/2 Marathons as a warm up. He once ran from Tucson to Phoenix. That would be 100 miles. Actually I think it is 101 miles and yes that last mile counts. In fact, he likes running SO much that he makes a living teaching people how to run. So when I wanted to be like Geoff and love the run again (because I used to) I called in the big guns. We scheduled a 0530am easy run the very next morning (I told you Geoff likes to run), invited a few friends, ran 5 miles and went home. It got me to thinking why I desired to love the run again, why I like to continually change my training modality and never really "master" any of them, why after I ran with my friends that morning, I signed up for another 1/2 Marathon. So many why's, so little time.
Friends don't let friends run alone.
Lately, it has been important to understand the why to me. I don't want to be spinning my wheels so it is wise to know your reasons behind doing things. I mean , we all "sign up" for something right? Whether it be a running event, an obstacle course event with our friends, nutrition coaching or personal training, we sign up! For others it is a Marathon or Ultra Marathon (like Geoff!), a Triathlon or a cycling event, a fitness boot camp or a gym membership. On a deeper level we sign up for college, for careers, for loans, for marriage, for kids and for credit cards. The list goes on and on. For me, I need to understand my why a bit deeper so I can use it to my advantage.
Although it is my third Half Marathon, it has been five years since I ran the last one. It feels like a lifetime ago. Like, am I even the same person? I think back to training for both of them. My first Half was in Milwaukee, WI and it was an Inaugural race. Never. Again. Ever. I am not entirely certain how one runs out of water at a race event but I do know that people we're dropping like flies and I was thanking my lucky stars I was NOT one of them! I was coming off training for an overnight relay series called "Ragnar" the month before with a great group of very talented, fast, kindhearted, seasoned runners. I always end up with friends who run fast. Why is that?? Anyway, we had group runs that would be held at my cousins house on Saturday's and always included shenanigans after. I learned so much from all of them and I am not just talking about running form or pacing myself. It was only one year prior to that that I had even begun being consistently active in many years. They were such a source of encouragement and support. I know most of them don't even know how much they helped me.
Half number two was in Green Bay, WI and ended at Lambeau Field. EPIC. If you are from Wisconsin, you know what I mean. You get to run out of the tunnel that the players do and you feel like you are the best quarterback to have ever lived to play the game in that moment. What a great way to give you that last push in the last mile when you need it! I trained with my friend Gina who I seem to talk into doing all sorts of bucket list things with! At that time we worked together and every Thursday before our shift we would run together. It was only one day a week we ran together but that training solidified out friendship. Seriously. She moved to Seattle 4 months before I moved to Arizona. We are still great friends. We talked about life, running shoes, relationships, how cold it was, how warm we WISH it was, faith, parenting, deodorant, recipes, chasing your dreams and, of course, nutrition! Food! GMO's! MSG's! ABC's! (Just kidding) Organic! Vegan! Raw! Gluten! Dairy! Keto! Paleo! Ugh, forever and ever we talked! We began training when we had to wear several layers as well as gloves, hats and scarves to keep frostbite at bay. We ended weeks of training wearing shorts and t-shirts sweating our rears off! We we're sad when it ended. We grew to love those Thursday mornings. She helped me and I helped her. I still miss those mornings.
It was then, as I was reminiscing, that my why became very, very clear. THIS is what I have learned and why I signed up for another 1/2 Marathon. You see, great bonds can be created out of suffering together. Yes, I said suffering and I consider running (at times) to be suffering! When we enter into discomfort we are refined by the fire. When we enter into it TOGETHER, we lift one another up, become selfless in our actions and thoughts and bring the best out in one another. We accomplish things we could have never done alone. It is true, iron sharpens iron.
Do I remember race day for both of those Half Marathons? Sure, of course I do. But what I remember more of, by a long shot, is the TRAINING PROCESS. I remember Nicole running with me (I was always slowest) and talking the whole time to keep my spirits up. I remember doing trail runs and someone always ran with me in case I tripped over a rock and busted my face. I remember being cheered on for my form and the fact that I showed up every week for group runs, no excuses. I remember Gina and I walking into work together the Monday after our race with our Finisher medals. I remember the hugs and positive vibes! I remember humidity and sweat. I remember seeing my breath in the cold and running on ice. I remember tears and laughs. Lots and lots of laughs. Recently, I have a new group of peeps that I run with. I remember Aggie's deep Polish accent as she cursed the miles we chipped away at and we also admired Dave's calves and we all laughed about it. I remember every single step.
This is my why. These are memories. Moments I treasure and store up for rainy days. These are friendships and conversations that will forever mark who I became. They made me believe in what I could do and will continue to do. They make me a better wife, a better mom, a better coach, a better human, a better Christ follower. They are cherished in a way I had no idea I would need in the coming years. They are part of my journey and they cannot be taken from me. They are one of the many gifts God has bestowed upon me. Without these experiences I would be a different person.
Life is not a given. We are not promised to die old and warm in our bed surrounded by those we love. We are reminded that the moments are fleeting and that we must invest in the journey. We must be ALL IN to reap the tremendous benefit of a life well lived. I know it is not always easy. Trust me, I know. We must climb into it, participate in it, the good parts and the not so good parts. We contribute and we learn if we allow ourselves to. I have lived here in Tucson only 10 months and because I willingly put myself out there right smack dab in the middle of discomfort, I am shown that is where the best of life grows. NOT the easiest, but the BEST.
We would do ourselves a fantastic favor by seeing beauty in training instead of being distracted by some finish line. I have seen what comes out of surrounding ourselves with other like minded people who want to be the best versions of themselves and to help you be yours. I talk to my nutrition clients about their why. It drives you, it inspires you and it makes others want to create their OWN why! Make your why deep rooted. Make it something that will last and that you are proud of! Make it something you can carry with you forever. Seek it and you will find it.