Runners have a lot of experiences in common. We can all identify with the satisfaction that comes from nailing a long training run, whether that long run is two miles or twenty. Standing in line to use a less-than-sparkling porta-potty is something we have all done (haven’t we?). We have all had days when we didn’t want to run, but we ran anyway. After the run is over, we are glad we did it.
As I set out for my run today, I began thinking about all the experiences we runners have in common. Tell me,
Did you ever…
- Get your guard up during a run, only to laugh at yourself for being alarmed? As I was running out in the countryside today, on a lightly traveled road, I heard a vehicle come up behind me and begin to slow down. I looked around. There was no one in sight. The nearest building, a farmhouse, was a quarter mile away. I looked out of the corner of my eye. The vehicle was a black van. “Uh oh! A van. That’s not good“, I thought.
Then I saw that the driver of the van was a woman. An older woman. An older Mennonite woman. A Black-bumper Mennonite woman. (For those of you who are unfamiliar, Black-bumper Mennonites paint the chrome on their cars black so they are less ostentatious.)
She asked me where I was from and if I lived nearby. I guess she was worried about me. I was out in the country with no houses in the vicinity. Or maybe she just wanted to determine whether I was a tourist, possibly lost. In either case, she was no threat. I got my hackles up for nothing.
- Buy running shoes that you hated and didn’t wear? All of the shoes in the picture above are my typical brand, Nike Air Pegasus.
I sometimes wish I had long, graceful, slender feet, but I don’t. My feet are the opposite of that. I wear a size 6. And my feet are wide. I must find shoes with a wide toe box for comfort.
When my previous favored brand altered the fit and made the toe box of their shoes narrower, I asked the owner of our local running store to give me a recommendation for a different shoe. He sized me up. “Nike Pegs. You’ll love ’em“, he said.
I tried them. At first, I did not love them. They were not at all what I was used to. They were much lighter, more “responsive“. I don’t know a better word to describe the way they feel. I grew to love them.
Then, for some unimaginable reason, I decided to try something new and bought the brand that my hubby uses. I hated them! They felt like I had big old wooded boxes strapped to my feet. I wore them for less than 100 miles, then went back to the running store. “Nike Pegs, size 6?” the owner said, smiling. “Yep.“
- Have someone run you in for the final mile of a race? Before Bill ran marathons, he used to meet me at mile 25 and run the final mile of my race with me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated that. Instead of looking forward to mile 26, I looked forward to mile 25. It somehow made the race seem shorter because I knew he would be waiting there so we could run the last mile together.
Several years ago, I ran the Eugene, Oregon marathon. Bill ran the half and my middle son ran the 5k. After he ran the half, Bill waited around for almost two hours, then went to mile 25 to meet me so we could run the final mile together.
I was trying to qualify for Boston, and as Bill waited, he knew that I would have to show up soon, or miss my qualifying time. Finally, he saw me off in the distance. He encouraged me through the final mile, then stepped off the course about 100 feet before the finish line.
He was still wearing his racing clothes and his bib from the half. A woman watching the race shouted to him “Oh no! Don’t stop now! The finish line is so close.” She thought he was quitting the marathon with only 100 feet to go. He explained the situation to her, then, with our son, enveloped me in a big hug as I crossed the line with two minutes to spare. There may have been some tears.
Yes, we runners are a tight-knit community. I have made so many friends, both in person and online, through running. Part of what makes us so close is our bank of shared experiences. They make for some great stories and some wonderful memories. Please share some of yours.
Have any of the experiences I listed ever happened to you?
What are some other experiences many runners share?