“Friendships are born on the field of athletic strife and the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.”
All of my training for the AJC Peachtree Road Race (and the other July events on my racing calendar) has been done alone. That’s fine for a few outings a week – I’m used to exercising 3/4 of the time on my own. But I’ve come to rely on my weekly training session with my loyal training partner.
Ever since we met as teammates on UGA’s rowing team, we have bonded through grueling and easy-going exercise sessions, as well as the highs and lows of competition. Since graduating college we have consistently met and trained together for races and lean on each other for a great deal of support in our athletic pursuits.
While enjoying many adventures during the first month of her teacher-earned summer vacation, my training partner has been sorely missed here in Atlanta. In short, I’m going through withdrawal. But after weeks of absence, my friend Naomi returns to me! And not a day too soon.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re both strong by ourselves, participating in many events independent of each other. Yet as we continue to train together I understand that our athletic “whole” is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. As Runners World’s Kristin Armstrong has said, “I am a good me because I am a runner.” But I am a better me because I run with Naomi.
I’m not sure how many of you are lucky enough to have a Naomi.
They are the ones that, like your running, become an extension of yourself… an extension of your abilities. A source of equal parts strength, inspiration and joy.
They run the same pace, yet can still push you just as you push them. They make 3 hour training runs go by in a flash with entertaining stories. But some days, they don’t have to talk at all… just their presence makes the time pleasantly go by.
They have courage when you are lacking, strength when you are weak, and fortitude to continue when you feel enough is enough.
They don’t laugh at you when you make ridiculous race suggestions. They just joyfully join in.
They have humility enough to train beside you day by day, yet push you ahead of themselves on race day when you are feeling good, and a PR is in your reach. They sacrifice their own PRs when it means dragging you across a finish line that you emotionally don’t think you have the ability to reach.
To your workouts they bring humor, understanding, challenge and snacks.
They are the ones with an indomitable spirit. The ones with hearts the size of the moon.
They are the furthest thing from a dime a dozen, and become true friends.
And best of all… they are great to share post-race celebrations with!
Who brings joy to your running? Who will make their way down Peachtree Street with you this Sunday?