I have always been a lone runner. Over the years my motto has always been “I train alone, I run alone.” In races over six miles I even run without music – that way I am truly alone. No words of encouragement from Imagine Dragons. No Clash or Sirsy to piss me off. No Natalie to inspire me. For me, running is a cerebral thing. The run gets into my head and enables me and myself to get out of it. I enjoy crawling out of my dark psyche and finding the bright light of happiness. Running alone is what I do. It’s just the way I am and always will be…or so I thought.
I have been posting running related blurbs on FaceBook for some time now. A comment about mileage here, a picture of the Toronto half there. I didn’t really think too much of it and I certainly didn’t consider someone might be paying attention to any of it. Wrong. At a birthday party several different people started conversations with “I see you are running all over the place.” My first instinct was deny, deny, deny. Well, I’m not really running “all over the place.” I trained for Toronto and then promptly (as planned) stopped. I haven’t run a single step in three weeks. It will be another week before I begin again. But, the conversation prompted revealing plans and I found pleasure in the promising.
The next day we’re at a cookout when a known 5k racer called me his hero for running a marathon. He must not have been able to read the fine print on my hardware. I couldn’t correct him fast enough. Only the half! Just the half! To my dismay that did nothing to deter his admiration. Throughout the party we kept circling back to one another and the run, sharing opinions on apps, stories about crowds, comparing courses, confessing hill strategies. At the mention of hills I encouraged him to run St. Pat’s (my favorite race, duh). Later he said he was looking forward to the Worcester Six, a race we are running at the same time. Notice I said at the same time and not To-Geth-Er. Totally different things. When we finally got around to my least favorite subject, pace, he admitted to a slowness that surprised me. No. That is an understatement. His pace shocked me. With his runner-typical physique I assumed he would smoke a 5k with a sub-21, easily. When I got around to admitting mine he smiled and announced we would run the Worcester Six together. Come again? Run together? Together, as in side by side? As in potentially talking to one another? To the surprise of me and myself, moi readily agreed. Agreed and even said, That Would Be Fun. Alright, who kidnapped the loner? What the hell? One weekend I’m tackling airplanes and bombs, the next ants and Jenga. Now I’m agreeing to run with someone who knows nothing of my debilitating hangups. Have I gone completely mad? Here’s the thing – By the time the W6 rolls around I will have been off the run for a month (a month!). So many questions swirl in my head. I have no idea what shape I’ll be in after walking 60 miles. Will I have monster blisters? What about race day? Will I be able to keep pace with Mr Bo? What happens if I suck?
Having said and questioned all that, I’ll tell you a secret. I’m looking forward to finding out.