As you well know, running is a passion of mine. Over the years, I have had a handful of different running partners.
When I first began running, I was on my own. I began after watching the USAF Marathon and deciding I would one day be like those runners who crossed the finish line. I had no idea at that time what I was doing, and I really had no friends who participated in it either. So I ventured out on my own during that beginning phase.
As time passed, I met people with whom I got to experience a season of running. Those running friends were like best buddies during those seasons. But true to life, events or circumstances have at times interrupted those best buddy moments.
I have been blessed to have a handful of those people in life through the years.
My friend, Kris, and I used to meet up and run at 4:30 am together. We talked as we ran; we shared deep life moments; we shared the running, but we also shared more than that- we shared experiences and secrets. She pushed me to be my best in running but in life, too. Kris remains my friend to this day, but a move (just a couple towns away) and different life schedules (and my often complicated life) have made it so we don't get to connect often. Kris was my first running partner. And a forever friend.
Kevin and Alyssa were my running buddies for quite some time. Kevin and Alyssa both are blessed with that natural running ability. They can both go days or even months without running and still meet up with me and be faster than I am. However, that never seemed to matter to them. They each brought their own ability to the table which also brought new elements to my life in friendship. I dragged them out at 4:30 in the morning with me and we would set out. Sometimes we did short runs, sometimes we did speed runs (I hated the sound of Alyssa's beeping watch), and sometimes we would set out on longer runs. Not every run was perfect. I did not feel on top of the world after each run finished. However, those 2 friendships remain in tact as well. Kevin parted ways from our running moments because.... mornings became too early for him. Alyssa became pregnant, and that aspect of life took over (as it should) . Alyssa pushed me to my PR (personal record) in a 5K. We also did a fun foam fest run together. Both Kevin and Alyssa have been huge parts of making the Linda A. Ferguson Memorial 5K a success. Both still help out with it, even though we don't take morning runs together anymore.
Mindy was my running partner for my full marathon experience. We spent hours training for that race together. We shared a lot of life. I talked her into doing that race with me, as she was going through a life experience and I was walking through grief. We took a journey together and finished together a race I have never done since (but someday hope to do again). We cried, we laughed, we experienced and we finished. Once our marathon journey was over, we parted ways. sometimes, a friend is a friend through just a season. I am grateful for that season, and it will always remain so special in my heart, but it is a season which has ended. Sometimes that is the case with running buddies. You just kind of part ways.
Other friends have been spotty running partners, like Laura or Tiffany, who occasionally agree to join me in a run, but then the weather shifts and they don't want to be an outdoor runner anymore. Still my friend, just not passionate about the sport.
Some friends I don't get to train with, but we get to do races together. Like my great friend, Dawn. Running (and coffee) brought us together initially, but she is a forever friend in this journey.
That brings me to my most faithful running partner. My dog, Dexter. I always wanted a Weimararner dog growing up. Not even for running, but just because I loved that breed. A couple of years ago, Michael got me one, and we named him Dexter. He became my running buddy from the beginning. I never thought I'd be a runner with a dog alongside, but Dexter has become that with me. He is always excited to go out with me, no matter if it is 4 am or 8 pm. He doesn't care about the weather (although this winter he showed a bit of hesitation). He doesn't criticize me and he lets me have my thinking time, but he's happy to be by my side. He doesn't do races, but he faithfully trains with me. He can go miles without tiring (he could honestly go further than I, I have no doubt). He even pushes me sometimes. This week, sadly, my faithful running buddy, Dexter, was injured when he was hit full force by a car. He has stitches in 3 legs and is on a lot of medicines and may have other injuries, but won't be determined for a bit. He's still full spirited and alive, so I am thankful for that, but I am back on my own again. This time because of an injury to a running buddy.
The point is, running has brought some wonderful people in my life. Some seasonal, some lasting, just taking on a new shape. Some of those people taught me lessons I will never forget. Others were just the friend I needed for that season of life. I look forward to Dexter being by my side again one day (soon, hopefully) and I look forward to perhaps new friends I may meet who are brave enough to join me at 4/5 am. Until then, my running moments are quiet, reflective, peaceful, and one of my favorite hours of the day as I journey alone right now. One step, one run at a time.