As this year draws to a close I have to pause and reflect. 2010 has been a great year for me regarding my running. I have put up incredible mileage, approached paces I only dreamed of previously, and won age group awards in races. Let me repeat that - I WON age group AWARDS IN RACING!!!
And the biggest changes in my training came in the second half of this year. My motivation is up. The satisfaction I get from running is immeasurable. And my confidence as a runner is limitless. When I line up before a race I am certain I will finish strong. I approach a 5k knowing I will get something. My 10k time only needs a race to prove how strong I have become. Marathons and ultras are frontiers I hope to explore for decades to come.
The great leap in my training can be directly attributed to my interaction with other runners. You don't race in a field of one, so why train alone. I'm sure some people fare better alone. Running is not necessarily a team endeavor. Reflecting on the past six months I realize that running with others instills a sense of competition and assertiveness that is growth inducing.
If you run with folks putting up big miles, you have to put up big miles. If you run with folks putting up fast miles, you have to put up fast miles. My only exposure to team sports were one year in Little League baseball and a few years of club rugby in college. The group thing is a little intimidating. So I feel I have to really show what I'm capable of to prove I belong. To prove I am worth their time and camaraderie.
By pushing myself I have improved in so many areas. While not always easy, the miles are getting easier. While not always fast, the miles are getting faster. And while not always smooth, the miles are starting to smooth out. In fact tonight my form really felt "locked in".
But I owe this moment in time to so many people within my running community. I have developed connections in Myrtle Beach that mean a great deal to me. The miles logged with the North Myrtle Beach Running Group have meant more than any solo plan. Those predawn Saturday runs gave me the idea and the confidence to volunteer as a pace runner for a half marathon. This was in fact the first half marathon I ever entered. The support, the jokes, and the technical advice have helped me greatly. I even owe "The UnaRunner" to this cast of characters.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to the worldwide community of The Daily Mile. If you ever need advice, motivation, support, or a good laugh you need to check this place out. They even announced a "Secret Santa" initiative this week. How cool is that. What humbles me about the community within The Daily Mile is that I know so few of the "friends" personally. The outpouring of well wishes when I perform is a huge boost to my confidence. But the greatest gift is when I received so many words of encouragement and genuine concern. This touched me beyond any thanks I could ever extend.
Growing up I never really "tried". I hoped but never pursued. Athletics were something to be watched. Participation was not for me. However, the last year has witnessed my evolution into an "athlete". I see something of myself that did not previously exist. And I know other people see something of me I never imagined would be discoverable. Some of these friends have pointed out how and where I can continue to grow and develop so I may become the best runner possible.
My turn as running for friendship has knocked me for a loop. I am astounded by the people seeking me out. To know that people watch me is intimidating and pressure-packed and motivating. But it is also odd. Had these people seen me even a few years ago they may not have seen the potential? How many of them would have looked twice? The fact is that my past no longer matters. The person I was no longer exists. Some of you have learned personal things about me outside of running. A few of you have shared private moments with me outside of running. Some of you are becoming the brothers or sisters I never had. These connections will be held in my heart forever. And I owe it all to running.
So the next time someone asks what I do I will answer "I run". And it has made all the difference.