Running Without Them

running buddiesFacebook memories are the work of a sentimental devil’s minion. On Sunday, while all my Tulsa friends were kicking asphalt at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, I was in Georgia, my new home, making waffles and not running. With them or anyone. I mindlessly scrolled through my Facebook feed when what pops up but the image of my best running buddy and me after finishing my first half marathon, the OKC, 7 years ago.

And so I her, my Ellen. And I missed Olga, and Jennie. Ben and Mike and Chris. I missed Judy and Allen and and and. And I missed my usual trails. From my front door, I could do three, five, six, eight and nine mile distances.

I’ve been really struggling to get up and out of bed to do my running workouts, and I’m starting to get worried about my fitness. I start training for the Chicago Marathon later this month, and I have become slow, and plodding, and I can’t be Cher and turn back time. When I saw the images of my friends running on Sunday, and when I saw the photo of Ellen and me, wrapped in silver “blankets” chugging our chocolate milk I realized how much of running was intensely social for me.

Running is personal therapy, but even more so when I had the choice of running partners or solo runs. If I needed a good whining session, I could grab a friend and complain for three, seven or fifteen miles. Or if I needed some space, I could beg off a planned run and no one’s feelings would be hurt. I had a group solid set of partners who loved me, loved to run and who were just enough faster than me that it was a good challenge to be with them.

Now? I can do three, five, six, or ten miles easy from my front door. But I don’t have the promise of meeting Olga at the track at 5:30 so she can tell me to suck it up. I don’t save stories to tell Ellen when we meet for long miles on a stolen couple of hours away from everything.

I don’t like getting up and out early because it reminds me that there is no one waiting to go with me. No one is telling me naughty jokes or confiding her deepest fears. When I get up in the dark and the campus sleeps, and my lonely headlamp bobs along the dark country road, I know and feel how much I relied on those people.

I know. I know I’ll find it. And I know it takes time. For now though, I miss my friends. Some things make me acutely aware of just how much I love them.