Mile Nine Dedication: Friends

This one is for my friends as a group.

The ones who don’t quite get WHY I’m running, but will congratulate me nonetheless.

The ones who’ve gotten used to me showing up to places late and still covered in a layer of sweat.

The ones who agree to one day drive me back to my place if I run to theirs.

They’re the ones who understand if I’m cranky after a bad run or exhausted after plenty of miles. They don’t hold it against me when I skip out of an evening early because of 10 miles on the schedule the next day.

They’ll walk slowly with me when I’m sore and drink a beer with me to celebrate.

My friends aren’t runners, but they’re a damn good support system for the fact that I am.

Mile Eight Dedication: Sarah and Stacey

Every once in a while I get to thinking about the time before I ever ran a half marathon. I swore for ages that I’d run one, and back in 2005 I even trained for a full. But, as novice runners are wont to do, I over-trained and hurt my knee.

There was a long time of “oh yeah, I’ll run one someday” and even more attempts at beginning to train without signing up for a race.

Then the Twitter Machine struck again. Back in 2011 I started talking about running with some lovely ladies, Sarah, Stacey, and Stephanie (who gets her own entry).

We made a deal to run the GO! St Louis half marathon in April of 2012 while still running another in the fall of 2011 to prepare for it. And we did.

There were updates in calendars and conversations via email and an “Ultimate Runner Log 2k11” that was both colorful and snark-filled.

These ladies, and my promise to them, got me through my first half marathon. And my second.

And every race after that.

And these coming races.

I’m lucky enough to be able to have another race planned on Saturday with Sarah (in fact, she’ll be here TONIGHT!!), which will be a true joy as she lives in Boston, and we don’t see one another that often.

I’m lucky enough to have CONSTANT support and commiseration even now from Stacey, even if it is through Twitter or Instagram rather than our training log.

Running buddies are the best buddies, and mile eight is for them.

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Mile Seven Dedication: Tough Mudder/Ragnar

Long distance running is an individual sport. It is a personal challenge. It is something in which you don’t have anyone else needing something from you.

Unless you run a Ragnar. Or a Tough Mudder.*

In both of these situations, there is an extra drive. There are the gnawing words in the back of your brain to not quit because you have people depending on you.

I know people who enjoy keeping running as just an individual sport, but over the last couple years I have completely fallen in love with these team events. What you find in these events is a camaraderie that is completely unexpected.

Somehow being stuck in a van for two solid days with unshowered, gross runners and having nothing to do but get to know each other will make some pretty quick friendships.

Similarly, going through an event where certain obstacles (for most people) REQUIRE a team encourages trust and a confidence in others that we would get through everything TOGETHER.

Both of these events have been incredibly memorable for me, but what made them so was the people. My teammates. All 21 (soon to be 32) of them.

So mile seven is for them. For baton handoffs at three in the morning and shared sunrises over Lake Michigan. For double-digit miles on less than two hours of sleep and for the best pancake breakfast in the land. For a solid boost over a Berlin Wall and the one clean part on someone else’s shirt where you can wipe your eyes. For orange headbands and cold Dos Equis.

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*Or some other events, I’m sure, but these are the that stand out to me.

Mile Six (point two) Dedication: The “You’re Crazy” People

crazy

Admittedly, Pinterest-type posters like these are relatively cheesy, however, there’s something about it that rings true. Maybe it’s rather masochistic, but hearing “You’re crazy” is one of those things that makes me feel even more like a badass.

It might have something to do with the fact that those who tell runners they’re crazy are people who couldn’t imagine doing something like that themselves. Which means I, as a runner, am accomplishing something out of their realm of possibility.

That’s kind of cool. Especially given that at one point I WAS one of those “you’re crazy” people. Look how far I’ve come!

So yes, please keep telling me I’m crazy. I’ll keep thanking you and running anyway.

Mile Five Dedication: My Fitness Group

There is a group of ladies that I’m a part of. Every month they come up with different monthly fitness challenges. Many of them check in EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Over the last little while instead of participating in their challenges, I’ve spent time doing my own thing while watching their updates from afar. Guys, this group of ladies is SUCH a motivation to me.

Their determination to finish challenges, their follow-through with daily postings of their workouts, their encouragement of anyone and everyone who might be struggling, it’s impressive to see. These women have come together from all walks of life, yet have created a group that stands together in their unwavering support for everyone there. Even if those people happen to be voyeurs rather than participants anymore.

Mile five is for them. Because I know that even if I’m not posting there, they are going to support whatever I do no matter what. They’re pretty awesome.

Mile Four Dedication: Vinny

I’m realizing you might notice a trend in a lot of these dedication posts. I’ll warn you about that right now.

Mile four is dedicated to my friend Vinny.

Vinny is a relatively new friend of mine, found (as many have been in the past couple years) through the Twitter Machine. He’s a Brooklyn kid (and we all know how much I have a soft spot for Brooklyn). And he’s a relatively new runner.

There’s something incredibly refreshing about watching the journey a new runner takes, especially for those of us who have been doing this for long enough that every so often we forget what got us started in the first place.

Recently Vinny completed his first 10 mile race. It is incredible to actually see progress and determination to get better on a fairly constant basis. He did so well, and I am so proud.

After his 10 mile race, he wrote this post. In there, he says:

That’s what I had to do this weekend. I was rolling through mile 3. Miles 4-6 sucked and were agony. But miles 8-10 were joy. Why? Because when I hit Mile marker 8? I knew god himself wasn’t stopping me from hitting that finish line. And I got rolling again.

Hoo-boy, let me tell you how that made me catch my breath. That line, that god himself wasn’t stopping him from hitting that finish line, that right there is what it means to me to be a runner. That point hits at different times in different races, sometimes stronger than others, but when you’ve never run a distance before, that feeling of strength is POWERFUL. And he’s right. Not a force on this planet or anywhere else is going to stop you from crossing that finish line.

Sometimes this is hard. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes you feel like you have made the biggest mistake of your life in agreeing to run a silly race.

And sometimes, whether it’s a 5k or a 10 mile race or that damn marathon, you feel something that you know some other runner somewhere else has. That is a powerful connection. It’s an even more powerful motivator.

So, my dearest Vinny, mile four is for you. For your half marathon dreams and beyond.

Mile Three Dedication: Janae and Danielle

I do not read many running blogs, to be honest. Maybe this makes me a weird runner, but there are really only two that I read: Danielle at T-Rex Runner and Janae at Hungry Runner Girl.

It might seem very silly and somewhat fan-girly of me, but these two are definitely motivational to me. Whether it’s reading their race recaps or them talking about training plans or expressing frustration at a bad race/run/training day or even an every day “yep, I ran four miles today, how was your run?”, whatever, it’s something I can read and think “Hey, I’ve been there.”

I very much like the whole relatable factor.

Also, Janae prompted this whole mile dedications, and Danielle has still written to date my favorite post of any blog on the whole interwebs.

So mile three is dedicated to them. Because they write a lot more than I do (which is not terribly hard to do, but still) while not sounding forced. Because they are able to project to an audience relatability and encouragement.

And because they make me laugh. Anyone who runs and can make me laugh? Totally cool in my book.

Mile Two Dedication: Runners

Mile two is for the other crazy people out there with me during a race.

They are teammates and competitors and some of the most awesome and crazy people I know.

Like I mentioned yesterday, part of the thrill of a race is the number of people out there yelling for you. The other part is the number of people running WITH you.

There’s something almost therapeutic about knowing that these runners have put in the miles and the sweat and the tears and in some cases the blood to get to where you both are standing. They are the ones who nod to you as you pass them on the road.

They are the ones who will stop and ask how your run went when they see you wearing a race shirt, or the ones who will say, “Hey, I ran that one too! What did you think of [random part of the course]?”

Just last week, they were the other person on the elevator, sweating and trying to catch her breath just like I was.

Runners have made this sport great. They’ve made it an event filled with adrenaline and endorphins and high fives and commiseration over that one hill that made you want to die.

They’re the ones you see out in absolutely crazy weather running like it’s any other day, the ones who you know have sat in front of a computer screen filled with a training schedule and weather forecast, making sure all the workouts were doable.

They’re my comrades in arms, so to speak. They make these races special.

Mile One Dedication: Spectators

This one goes out to the spectators. The people who wake up early to go sit on the side of the road and watch people work through mile after mile.

To the people who will yell and cheer your name as you run by.

To the people who have cups of cold beer at mile nine. And mile eleven.

To the people who make signs that make me laugh.

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To the people who care as much about you finishing as you do.

To the one guy during a half marathon that was wearing a tie dye “Grateful Dad” shirt that we saw EVERY HALF MILE (I’m still not sure how).

To the people who run almost as much as the race itself just to be able to see their runners more than once or twice.

To all of them out there who make the racing experience one of my favorite things in the world.

Mile one is for them.

I Would Walk Five Hundred Miles

A while back I mentioned that Janae from Hungry Runner Girl had talked about dedicating miles of her races to people. I’ve kept this idea in my head for a while and feel like my upcoming (less than four weeks!!!) races are the perfect place to start.

I have been a very big proponent of not running because of anyone but yourself. I run for me. Full stop.

That said, many times during a race when your legs are dead, and the finish line is so far away you consider the fact that it might be faster to fly (slight exaggeration), it takes the thought of someone else to give you an extra boost.

For me, the people in my life are a huge motivation in my running. Not in the traditional sense, as in they’re out there cheering me on, but more in their support on a day to day basis. For understanding most of the reasons I run, and maybe not understanding the rest but supporting me nonetheless.

There are other reasons people and things give me motivation, and over the course of the next few weeks I’ll detail someone or something or some place new for every mile I’ve got coming up. Nineteen point three miles, nineteen dedications.

Here we go.