Getting By With a Little Help

I'm really independent. I'm drawn to running because there's so much solitude involved. So, if you would've told me a year ago that in the coming 12 months I would run more races with friends than ever, I wouldn't have believed you.

This year I've discovered how much more rewarding running with friends can be. And even as I'm typing these words, I realize how ridiculous that statement is. Friends make our lives richer. Why would I think it would be any different when it comes to running?

Here are my "Runs with Friends" highlights of 2017:

January- The Vista View 360 UltraMarathon Relay
This was a great experience! I was a late add to my friend Cindy's team. We took turns running a little over a mile loop and then recovering (kind of) back at our tent. We laughed a lot. I met some new running friends and was warmly welcomed into my friend's running tribe.

March- No Luck Irish Run
This will always stand out as one of my favorite races of all times because I ran with my Mom. She's been a runner for as long as I can remember, but doesn't really run races. She just loves the run. We showed up way too early on a frozen Indiana pre-dawn morning. This would be her first 5k in many years and my first race in my home state. Although our start times were different, we enjoyed our own races knowing that we were sharing the experience, both of us running in memory of my sister. Fueled by the emotion of sharing a race day and the loss with my Mom, I ran my fastest half. AND we both placed 3rd in our age groups!

May- Mother's Day 5k
I met up with my friend Kristi at this race. We didn't run side by side, but we met up at the finish line where chocolate covered strawberries and a rose were waiting for us. It was a wonderful and memorable (and unusual) way to begin Mother's Day. And we both had a blast. And I surprised myself by hitting a new PR.

June- Heroes in Recovery 6k
Kristi and I met up again for this 6k that is a charity run for those in recovery for addiction. Last year, this was my first race after losing my sister, so it was highly emotional. This year felt much different. I finished, found Kristi and together we enjoyed a frozen Greek yogurt bar and chatted about the race.

June- Full Moon Challenge 10 Miler
A night trail race-- nearly everything that's great about life. Ally, Cindy, and I lined up at the start together with the understanding that we would run together as long as it worked for all of us. As the miles flew by (it just feels faster at night), we fell into our own paces. Ally (an athletic trainer by day-- and in this case by night) stopped to help a fallen runner. Cindy and I ran and tripped our way to finish together.

August- USCG GORUCK Heavy 
Well, this one wasn't a race, but is worth the mention here. In any GORUCK, teamwork is essential. This was my first Heavy (24 hours). When I registered for it, I knew no one who would be on the team. That changed as the date approached. A few of us met up to train before the event, and Dawn and I traveled to and from the Heavy together. GORUCKs are events that cannot be completed solo. You have to build relationships and rely on each other to help you endure. I walked away from this event stronger for the experience and the friendships made.

September- South Florida Craft Beer 5k
All about the fun. Ally, Tabitha and I signed up just days before the start of the race. It was at night. At a brewery. The three of us had a blast after the race, enjoying a post race burger and some liquid refreshment. This was the best kind of girls' night out for me.

December- Central Florida Spartan Beast
It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done-- running a marathon 6 days before a 14 mile Spartan Beast. But Tabitha and I drove 3 and a half hours(or 4, thank you, Google maps for the long route!) to run. We were both approaching this race for the experience of overcoming a daunting challenge. This was Tabitha's first Spartan and my first Beast. And we had a blast. I would say we loved every minute, but it was cold (for Florida), so we loved nearly every minute.

December- Jingle Bell Jog
Friends, South Florida, and Santa suits-- what's not to love? Tabitha, Ally and I reunited again to run in Santa costumes. We also met up with Kristi before the race. The experience, once again, was more valuable than the time on the clock, and we chatted and laughed our way through the 3.1 miles.

Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but probably because I'm getting wiser, that I'm beginning to realize the best part of running races is enjoying the journey with people I love. I've learned more about myself through the friends I've covered miles with this year. And I have gotten stronger. I'm excited to see who will take what adventures with me in 2018.


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