Com·mu·ni·ty \kə-ˈmyü-nət-ē\: a unified body of individuals
– Merriam Webster Dictionary
The more I get into running, the more I realize what a community we runners really are. And these last few weeks have driven that point home for me more than ever before.
First of all, of course, there was the Boston marathon bombing. Have any of us ever seen such an outpouring of love and respect among our fellow runners? So many runners donned their printed out “bibs” in honor of Boston and logged mile after mile in honor of all who were affected. Each and every one of us knew how easily it could have been us. I have never witnessed the Boston marathon, but I did travel with a group of friends to watch the Wineglass Marathon in New York last year. The place I was camped out to get pictures of my friends as they finished, was exactly the spot where the bombs went off in Boston. It easily could have been me. Or someone I love. And every runner feels the same. We are empathetic towards our fellow runners and their families because it hits so close to home. We don’t know what to do to help, so we run. We run in honor and respect for the members of our community, whether we “know” them or not. They are our family.
And on that same note, I have made a few dear friends through running whom I have yet to even lay eyes on.
When I first started running a little over a year ago, I used the Couch to 5K Running plan to get started. I then “liked” the Facebook page of the same name so I could watch other people through their struggles and successes to know that I was not alone. Before long, I began posting as well, sharing my own stories and milestones. It quickly became my primary source for motivation and inspiration and is, without a doubt, the reason I stuck to the plan and was successful. On this site, I interacted with many people, but a few in particular stood out. One of whom is my friend, Connie. Connie was a non-runner who was determined to run a 5K for her 60th birthday. I was inspired by her story, so I followed her closely and soon began to chat back and forth since we were at the same point in the plan. We “graduated” almost simultaneously, together with our other e-friend Kristen, and have since all remained close friends and fellow runners. We are even making plans to all meet in Rhode Island to run a 5K together in the fall. (Kristen is from Massachusetts, Connie from Rhode Island, and I am from Virginia).
Yesterday, I went to my mailbox and found this:
A gift from Connie. A running t-shirt that says “EyeBeeLeaf.” The note says:
“We believe anything is possible.
We work hard to achieve our goals.
Here’s a gift from Connie to wear when you run.
Eye Bee Leaf.”
How amazing is it that this friend, whom I have never even met, cares enough about me and about running in general to so generously reach out and provide support to another runner? This truly is a community. A family. And it was no coincidence that this shirt arrived just a few days before my first half marathon that is coming up on Saturday. As my friend Connie likes to say, “It’s Kismet!”
I so can’t wait to meet my friends in person in September!
And while we’re on the subject, check out this message I received on my last blog entry about my fear of this upcoming half marathon:
“Good luck! From Melbourne, Australia!
I just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your writing. I found you when I was searching running blogs as I’m a new runner myself and totally obsessed. You write so evocatively and thoughtfully, and I often find myself smiling or nodding along to your musings! Best of luck with your half, you’ll smash it!
Warm regards, Zoë “
Wow. Just wow. 🙂 All the way across the world, in Australia, is another member of my “community.” And I didn’t even know about her until today.
I also received this message from my local friend Shannon this morning with regard to this half marathon:
“There will be a great adrenalin rush in the beginning, but remember to pace yourself and run your race.
There will be people who pass you and you’ll feel you are not doing good enough, but pace yourself and run your race.
You will worry that you won’t be able to finish at some point, but just keep going at your pace and run YOUR race.
There will come a time when you will think “I got this!” But still pace yourself…and run your race!
It’s a lot like life.”
I hope she doesn’t mind my sharing her poetic words. They were too good to keep to myself.
So, see what I mean? We are such a caring community of runners. Such a family of like-minded individuals from all over, who all know what it is like to change our life one footstep at a time. I’m so honored and humbled to be a part of such an amazing group of people.
I am a runner.
“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.”
– Richard O’Brien