Sometimes, somebody else really has a way of capturing what we're all thinking. Below is the recent NH Runner column, written by Maureen Milliken.
There's always a friend on the road
New Hampshire Sunday News - Sunday, January 4, 2009
AH, THE LONELINESS of the long distance runner .
The introspective, pensive athlete glides along silent streets alone with the deep thoughts that only such a solitary, yet noble, figure can think as the rest of the world gazes on in distant, uncomprehending awe.
What a load of hooey.
Every runner knows there's no such thing.
Every run is an exercise in trying to keep the outside world at bay just enough to get through it in one piece. Unfriendly drivers, dogs, unyeilding groups of pedestrians, leaf blowers (or snowblowers) make solitary introspection a joke.
And lonely? Hardly.
Besides the obvious companionship found in running clubs and charity groups, every runner , no matter how solitary his or her actual running, finds a level of fellowship.
The "accidental companionship" of running is actually one of the treats of the sport.
The most basic level is the "hale fellow runner well met." This is when two runners pass on the street and give each other the friendly runner nod. Sometimes there is also a friendly runner wave. And sometimes there's even spoken greeting. Or a knowing grimace if the weather is bad.
And you know you're not out there alone.
There is also the "running buddy."
This is when you have a friend who also runs who you tell all your running tales to because your spouse, friends or coworkers don't want to hear it.
Running buddy: "How did your run go?"
Runner : "Pretty good, until about one mile, when my ankle started doing that thing.."
Running buddy: "Oh yeah, like my thing with the achilles..."
Runner : "Right. So it did it for about seven-tenths of a mile. Then I got to that hill, you know the one at the white house?"
Running buddy: "I hate that hill. It must have a nine grade or something."
Runner : "Right. So I was going up the hill and by the time I got to the blue house, the ankle felt okay. So then I really picked up my pace, etc., etc."
Who else is going to listen to that?
Then there are the temporary running buddies, who you meet in a race, run with, chat with, commiserate with, but will never see again. But for however long you run with them, they are some of the best running buddies you'll ever have.
Sometimes you don't even need to talk. Sometimes you're running in that race and there's that woman in front of you in the purple shirt and you tell yourself "if I can just keep up with her, I can do this." And you follow her for miles. She's the reason you PR. And she never even knew you were there.