The running life is a journey. It’s an adventure filled with highs and lows, race day finishes and injuries, effortless days and workouts that feel like a crawl.
Where we start as runners is nowhere near where we finish.
Along the way we meet new people, find lifelong friends and experience the world in a different way than most.
A few weeks ago, a friend, Tim, wrote an inspiring and thoughtful post on a Facebook page created for area runners who love running trails, gravel roads and the path a little less common. In it, he thanked a running mentor for the guidance, wisdom and courage he provided in pursuit of endurance sports, particularly ultra events. Tim finished his post by encouraging others to share a few words about their running mentors.
It’s a challenge to give proper credit and express gratitude to all the people who’ve helped me enjoy the sport and develop into a better runner. There have been so many runners — terrific people — who have shared their encouragement, inspiration and experiences with me. Better yet, and more importantly, I’m a better person for their friendship.
While others probably rightfully deserve to be on my mentor list, I’m offering up my gratitude to all those I’ve been lucky enough to run with over the years. After 10 years of running, I’m not sure where I’d be without their friendship and company. This is my shortlist, with a few words about their impact in my journey:
Andrea — a former co-worker who joined me for my first marathon relay team. She recognized and encouraged my love for running. Despite my objections to the idea, she knew that I’d run a marathon and provided a wealth of information when the journey started in 2008.
Keith — a colleague who also agreed to join the marathon relay team. He pushed me to run faster workouts and shared his decades of knowledge. In addition to encouragement and talking race strategy, he genuinely expressed happiness each time I broke through a new barrier.
Tim — the guy who inspired this post was a regular running partner for years. If it not had been for the commitment of meeting a friend, there’s a good chance I would have skipped out on a lot of those 5 a.m. runs. Along the way, we had a lot of laughs and ran through rain, snow, heat and a blizzard.
Eric — a phenomenal runner who shared his insight and knowledge, he is always willing to talk running. And while his own performances and training are inspiring, he’s made me a smarter and more tactical racer.
Kelly — took a chance and welcomed me onto a Ragnar team, where I met an entire group of terrific people. Inspiring for her toughness as a runner, but more importantly, being a supportive and thoughtful friend.
Mandy — always positive and upbeat, our early morning runs made me a better runner. Along the way, she made me a better person through our conversations. And on the days I struggled to keep up, I just asked more questions.
Maggie — we’ve shared so many miles throughout the years, and she’s one of the toughest, smartest and inspiring runners I’ve been lucky to meet. We’ve sought out adventure during marathon long runs, trails and gravel roads, and along the way she’s made me a stronger runner and person.
Jamie and Kaley — now long-time friends, we ran the St. George Marathon together and helped me celebrate my personal best there. Along the many miles, we’ve shared in the ups and downs of training and racing, and their unwavering encouragement and positive outlook made many of those long runs easier.
Richard — a track and cross country coach, his awesome attitude toward life and running are contagious. He brings out the best in people, especially runners, and proved to be a sounding board and race strategist through my running resurgence.
John — we’ve been friends for a short while, but have already shared miles and miles on the streets and trails. He inspires by sharing his knowledge and passion for the sport with others — which has helped to reinvigorate my training and racing.