I think this post is supposed to be about why we like to run, but I feel like in order to understand this particular friendship you have to have the cliff notes version of our history...
Christie's family moved to Spokane when we were juniors in High School. We were all immediately friends. It was just sort of instant. I could write books on the crazy things we've done, the stupid things we've done, and the billions of memories we've made. From drinking too much coffee and thinking we were dying, to wearing giraffe and zebra masks when we were old enough to know better, missing flights because we're too busy talking, drinking Zima's with Jolly Ranchers by our apartment pool thinking we were being so naughty...I could go on forever.
But, it's none of those funny/silly/embarrassing moments that make our friendship so special. For me, the first time I realized how blessed I was with Christie's friendship was the first time I truly experienced loss. Too personal to share, but I realized then that not only would she laugh with me through it all, be there beside me to celebrate, but she would also cry with me. Everyone should have at least one friend like that.
Fast forward to 3 kids later... :)
I began running to escape. Not for fitness. But for the cathartic feeling of running away from home.
It started with half a mile (I'm not joking!) and I still remember the first time I ran the entire half mile without stopping. Then it went to a mile, a mile and a half... and I realized the longer I ran the more time I got to myself :) :) :) I've gone back and forth on training for half marathons a few times over the last year. I just get bored with it to tell you the truth. The longest race I've ever run was Bloomsday- 7.4 miles, I think.
So a few weeks ago my overachieving bestie called me and began harassing (Christie, there's really no other word for it!) me about doing a marathon. I said no. No. No. No. She knows how to paint a pretty picture and pretty soon I was sitting in the Costco parking lot with my kids crawling around the car...considering it. She said, "The training's not THAT hard!" And I would say, "I know, but-" "NO! Seriously, it's like you only run 4 days a week, and 3 of the days are low mileage. Like the most you ever go during the week is like 9 miles! And you've run 9 miles before! And the others are like 5 miles and then just your long run on the weekend, so its really only the long run that's hard! And the longest you ever run is 20 miles, so if you subtract 9 from 20, and divide it by 11 it's like you're only running 1 mile!" This is all said in "Super Hyper Christie Speak" where she sounds sort of like an auctioneer and I find myself nodding because her enthusiasm is contagious, and she knows I start to tune her out when she talks math, and all of a sudden.... I'm sort of committed to running 26.2 miles.
But, now I'm excited. Really excited. This is by far going to be one of the craziest things I've ever done. And I know we can do it! I'm so thankful for my crack-head sole sister who drug me into this :) So excited to train, and complain, and finish this with one of the best people I've ever known!
I can't believe I'm sitting here about to do a write-up on how and why I decided to be crazy and run a marathon. This is so not me.
Ok. So maybe it sort-of is. Not the "run a marathon" part. But the crazy part. That part is just partially me.
I've never been a runner. Active off and on at different stages in my life, yes. Especially if you count all the 5:00 am gym workouts Sarah and I would meet up for in high school (OK, plan to meet up for, since half the time I slept through the alarm. So sorry, bestie!!). But a runner? Definitely not. I hated the idea, quite honestly. I mean, why would anyone want to get all sweaty and screw up their knees when they could stretch out on a cute yoga mat or read "In Style" or "Real Simple" while on the elliptical? I just didn't get it. "Runners" to me were always a bit of a different breed. I would see them on the treadmill at the gym or on the sidewalks around my house and assume they had always been runners, and that it must have come easy to them (kind of like "Us Weekly" on the stationary bike came to me). I wasn't one of them, and I was pretty sure I never would be.
In the Spring of 2010, Sarah started running. At first, she would tell me she ran an entire mile. 10 minutes straight. I was mesmerized. I could NEVER do that, I thought! Soon she was running 2, 3, 5!!! Then she signed up to do Bloomsday, which was over 7 miles. And one day, I got a text from her that read "Guess who just ran 9 miles?" OMG! My best friend, whom I had gone through everything with, was becoming one of "them." She told me it wasn't easy. She told me she worked her butt off. I loved hearing about her running achievements. They always inspired me, and I felt so much pride for her. But despite her invites to run with her while I was visiting Spokane or sign up for races with her, I was content to let her have this all to herself.
But that didn't last long. It's hard to have a friendship so inseparable, one with a history beyond measure, and not share a significant part of our current lives. So, a year later, with her commitment as my inspiration (as well as a bit of jealousy over her hot runner's legs), I decided to do something crazy for my 30th birthday. In March 2011, I signed up for the Helvetia Half Marathon taking place outside of Portland the morning of my birthday: June 11, 2011. Armed with Hal Higdon's Novice 12-week Training Program and too much pride to back out, I began to run.
I remember my first training run. It was 3 miles. I ran for about 3 1/2 minutes and almost fell over dead. I walked most of the remainder, cursing my stupid crazy idea. But it was too late now...my money had been paid and the word had spread. There was no turning back! My only goal on my training "runs" was for my feet to go as far as the program told me they should. I didn't care how much I walked, or how long it took. As long as my feet traveled the 3, then 4, then eventually 10 miles, I could check it off my list and say I did it. I'll never forget the first time I ran the entire mile. Or the first time I ran 3. Or, just a few weeks later, 7 (!!!). I'll never forget going out for my 9-mile training run and coming home on the biggest high ever because not only did I run the whole darn thing, I ended up going 11. 11 miles. I still can't believe I'm saying that. Remember, this is me, a non-runner. The woman who almost died at 0.3 miles. I have to say, it was never easy. But somehow I made it to the Half Marathon, ran the whole time, beat my announced goal by 6 minutes (and my secret-only-I-know-it goal by 1), and kicked off my 30's with a smile that can only come from achieving your own "impossible."
Even the week of the Half I told people I never wanted to run a full marathon. Why would anyone do that?!?!? A couple weeks later, an uninvited thought popped into my head. "You're already halfway there. If you ever dreamed of doing it, now's the time." Apparently my subconscious had visions of crossing a marathon finish line somewhere deep, deep, deeeeeep down inside it, and once a stupid crazy thought like that pops into my head, it's near impossible to kill it. The October 9, 2011 Portland Marathon was 15 weeks away. I was already 3 weeks behind in the minimum 18 week training. I knew only one person in the world could possibly be as crazy as me: the runner who started it all. See, Sarah? In reality, this is all YOUR fault. I'd never have put you in this insane position if you hadn't ran away from home for the first time last spring. Actually...sounds to me like it's the kids' fault. Let's blame it on them. :)
So, here we are, 3 weeks into our training and less than 12 weeks to go. We are on our way to writing another crazy, unforgettable, "only Sarah and Christie..." chapter in our story. I cannot wait to cross that finish line that October morning (assuming we can make it there before noon) with my best friend by my side. And I'm just as excited to document the steps we take to get there. After all, I'm pretty sure I once read a quote on the side binding of "Real Simple" that life is about the journey, not the destination. Thank you, Elliptical, for giving me the chance to read that. I'm sorry I've been away so long. But it seems that somehow, someway, beyond all stretches of the imagination (even mine!), I've become a runner.
Let the journey begin!