On Saturday I did something I’ve done only once before, I went running with a friend.
A dear friend of mine and I are both seasoned runners that have fallen off the training wagon. We had entries in the Navy-Air Force 5 Miler this weekend and upcoming entries in the Marine Corps 10K in late October. We registered for these races early in the summer with best intentions of putting in the time and effort to train but as she changed jobs and well, you all know my excuse (I just had a baby), we both found ourselves utterly unprepared. After a few pre-race pep talks and apologies for lack of training and speed, we decided that we were going to use our five miles to kick start our training for the 10k. We hoped that these five miles would shame us into making weekly miles a priority.
I knew that those miles would remind me that running shape disappears quickly and that I’d likely feel every stride the next day. What I didn’t know was that running with a good friend is good for the soul.
We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day. The morning was clear and beautiful. The air was crisp and cool. Fall had finally arrived in D.C. I am frequently in awe of my dear city, but never so much as I am watching the sun come up while standing in the shadow of the Washington Monument.
The race started and we started our slow trot. We intended to take it easy so that we could talk the whole time. This was a first for me. When I race, I typically plug in my headphones (if they are allowed) and zone out. I take in the scenery and have mini “races” with strangers as I work to keep pace. But on Saturday, the pressure was off. There was no hunt for a PR or a carefully crafted playlist to get me through five miles. Just my friend and beautiful D.C.
We spent the entire hour just gabbing. Swapping work stories, husband stories, travel plans and catching up on the lives of mutual friends. Our trot slowed but the conversation never did.
We cheered as the half-marathoners passed and rooted for the wounded warriors as they made their loop. We watched a couple of dads teaching their young daughters how to pace and marveled at the fitness of the mom pushing the double jogging stroller. You should have seen her legs! We loved seeing the ladies running together for a friend’s 50th birthday celebration and we discovered parts of the city that we hadn’t seen before.
As we crossed the finish line to the cheers of my hubby, son and other dear friends, we looked at each other and laughed. We didn’t feel as if we earned the cheers or even the water at the end for we took it far too easy and had too much fun.
After a few hours, I sheepishly texted her that it was apparent that not training was a bad idea. I was indeed feeling every stride. However, I told her that we just need to get together and do five miles more often. While not revolutionary, five miles goes faster for me with a friend and with all of that talking, we just might solve the world’s problems.
A shameless plug for D.C., if you’re looking for incredibly organized races with beautiful scenery you’d be hard pressed to find races better than the Marine Corps Marathon and 10k, the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon and 5-Miler and the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler. Come join thousands of other running crazies and check out our beautiful Nation’s capital!
If you are a runner, are you a loner or do you run with friends? Do you race? Or just head outside?