The Best Training Partner I’ve Ever Had

It’s 5 in the morning when I hear the racket coming from my alarm clock. I lay there for a moment, suddenly wondering why I haven’t yet chosen to put my alarm clock closer to my bed.

After getting up to turn the alarm off, there is an overwhelming temptation to crawl back into my bed and burrow beneath the warm fluffy concaves of cotton and down feathers, but I know that she is out there waiting for me.

the hardest part is getting started…

the hardest part is getting started…

I quietly repeat this mantra as I tug on two white, ankle socks. Unwittingly, I slip my feet into a pair of running shoes that have refused to be untied for almost two years; and with a final, sleepy glance from my cat, I’m out the door.

Point of no return

Every runner has a ‘point of no return’. For me, this is as soon as I shut the door behind me. I pad up the wooden stairs in my apartment building, and sure enough- she’s standing there waiting for me. She has long, dark hair pulled back into a tight ponytail and indefatigable eyes as she glances down at her watch and jogs in place.

Her excitement will eventually become contagious, I know; but for now, I feel languid and unmotivated. I just want to get this run overwith. I take a deep breath, and then we start to run.

I’ve trained with her for years now-ever since college. During our runs, there is no need for small talk or pleasantries. No words are ever exchanged and we’re fine with that. The only thing we do decide ahead of time is how far we will run that day, and once we’ve made the decision, there’s no backing out. The watches have started changing seconds into minutes, and there are still miles in front of us to cover.

The run starts off a little slow, but by the second or third mile in, the blood is circulating throughout my entire body, and I feel alive, refreshed and up for the challenge. Suddenly, I’m happy to be up and running on the quiet roads. On days where I’m tired or feeling lethargic, she is there to push me forward, encouraging me. Sometimes, she’ll run ahead of me- forcing me to try to keep up; and other times, she runs behind me- pressuring me to push the pace faster.

Trees, finely manicured lawns, a child’s toys left scattered on a backyard patio- all of it is a blur of light and color as we run by. The first beads of sweat start to form on my brow just as the faint glow of the sun starts to peek out from sleepy skies.

2 more miles to go…

1 more mile to go…

Sprint it to that last stop sign…

Seven miles later, I have made it back to my apartment alone. Exhausted but filled with exuberance, I have gotten through another run, and I am thankful for my training partner. She is what keeps me going on days when I don’t think I can do it, and I am forever grateful to have the opportunity to train with someone so dedicated and driven.

I have met my hero, and he is me. – George Sheehan

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