Six women. Seven o’clock. Early one Sunday morning.
Six different paces. Six different goals.
One had to be done in 50 minutes. One wanted to run two miles. One wanted to run six miles. Others somewhere in between.
Most, but not all, preparing for a half marathon this fall. Several working on upping their speed. Some working just to get (back) into running.
An out-and-back course. One endless hill – gentle slope on the way out, daunting mountain on the way back.
How do we do this, as a group?
Meeting early, we parked. Everyone adjusted their respective technologies…mileage counters, music. The fast group took off, three in number. The wide, empty road with generous sidewalks meant we could see them for a long, long time as they took off at an ambitious clip.
One of us, at a moderate pace, moved right along brightly.
I was in the slow, steady tortoise pair with a friend. We chatted the whole time. Neither was overly winded. And before we knew it, a mile had gone by – and then she said, “that’s the first time I’ve ever run a full mile without stopping.”
WHAT A VICTORY! And I had no idea that was happening! Such a great moment, and we could still keep going.
She was the two-miler this day, so we turned around and paced ourselves back up the hill. Once she was back to the car, I took off down again, only to see the three hares flying up the hill together. The 50-minute limit gal was in that group, and they made the most of it. Screams of KEEP GOING WE’RE ALMOST THERE as they were so close to running to the top! Inspiring!
I plodded down the hill, singing along to the Beastie Boys, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, knowing we had a friend still out on the course. Over a mile passed until I saw her. She was working her way back up. I pulled out my headphones to check in – so hot, it’s THICK out here, I said – then kept moving along toward my goal distance.
Turned back for home, finally. And all I could see was UP. That hill looked SOOOO long. I’d be going at it for a mile and a half (a while and a half!) Endless. And even though I’ve been doing really well most days with just continuing to run, I stopped.
And I was so mad at myself. Just knowing the hill was so long, it was enough to make me walk. Just for maybe 45 seconds. Then back into running. Still, though. A mental setback.
One lonely moment. Grudging, trudging entered my mind.
Then, I turned a corner only to see three figures in the distance, two in dark and one in bright, walking down the hill toward me.
It was the other three women still on the route. Coming back for me.
In that moment, gears shifted. Seeing them, I could have run for days. My stride picked up. I sang a little louder. Moved a little faster.
We met and they turned and we finished together, telling stories and giggling.
It IS possible for everyone to meet their goals. Even if the goals (and the gals) are wildly different. Even if they seem incompatible.
It IS ok to “take the long way” or to double back “relay style” as part of your path, especially if it means more time with someone you enjoy. Bonus points if you help them meet their goals, too.
It IS awesome to push yourself to keep up with those moving at a faster clip. Even those who seem the strongest, most invincible among us, have weak points of doubt or moments when they might feel like slowing down. You could be the voice of encouragement at that moment! Yes, YOU!
Even if you are done with your work, have met your goal, and completed your task, going back out to help the people still on the trail when you can is a beautiful show of support. Being last can be challenging, even lonely, even if everyone’s goals are different at the start. And then next time, when you have to begin again, or turn for home and all you can see is a great big pile of UP, that long hill climb might be a little less daunting, knowing you won’t be forgotten.
Six women. Six paces. So many fluid groupings, lessons. Challenges faced, goals achieved. All on one sunny Sunday morning.