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  • Writer's pictureJessica Jones

The People of Running.

Coach Mike and me at the Boston expo.

I have been distracted with work and life and haven’t taken the time to share all my wonderful running and running-related experiences lately. Because it’s been a while, I want to cover everything!! I realize that would be one really long post, so we’ll take this one step, one event, one thought, at a time. I want to start with a little discussion of one of the many reasons I love running. The people!

Me and my Squad Runner team Captain, Paul Cole, before the LA Marathon.

I am in introvert. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that many endurance athletes are. Many hours of your life are spent training. Alone. Of course, there are exceptions to that, but it’s not an activity, a lifestyle, that I’d expect a hardcore extrovert to embrace. That said, the running community is an amazing place where even a pretty serious

introvert like me can fit in. Not only fit in, but feel comfortable. Because we all share something in common. A love of running.

I’ve always felt this at races, and more recently, on social media. Especially some of the closed running groups I’m a part of on Facebook. However, it became more apparent with my Squad Runner team. Nearing on a year ago, I was invited to be a part of this online running challenge team. I “knew” most of the folks on the team from one of the Facebook groups. I won’t get into the glitches of the app that runs the competition part of the challenge because that’s a can of worms not relevant to my story. But, when the “good” app was still in use, the chat function wasn’t so great. So, we decided as a team to start a WhatsApp group text. Best. Decision. Ever. We are a very chatty group. And we talk about everything. Running, food, family, work. You name it. Because of running, I am fortunate enough to call this great group of people my friends. My running family.

It’s one thing to have virtual friends, right? But another to have “real” friends. People you’ve actually met. In the flesh. Well, this is one of the things that has made 2019 my favorite racing year thus far. I met a few Altra Red Team members at my 50K in January. So supportive and encouraging! There were so many wonderful people that I got to know during the course of my five day Mainly Marathon adventure. Every one out there for their own reasons, all of us cheering on one another. What I feel is the true spirit of running. In LA, before the marathon, I met a bunch of inspiring runners from a Facebook group. Again, each going after their own goal. And, I got to spend so quality pre-race time chatting with my Squaddie captain!

A couple of Mike Wardian-coached runners. Kevin Hopp and me.

Boston Marathon weekend was extra special as I was able to connect with so many people. At the expo, I ran into my coach, Mike Wardian. Such an inspirational and motivational person! We got to chat for a good little bit and remembered to take a picture together. Something we forgot when we met the first time! I met up with one of the most positive people ever from my Facebook group. And, found out we were born in the same town. The same hospital! Small world! I did a shakeout run with Rabbit. There, I got to meet some of my Altra Team members, including elite, Tommy Rivers Puzey! The highlight, though, was meeting a fellow coaching client of Mike’s who I’d been following on Instagram. We ran and chatted together for about a bit. I learned a bit more about his story and how running and the running community have helped him. Each person I meet and get to know has their own story of what running does for them and why they love it. The feeling of comradery in group runs and races is a common theme.

Sunday in Boston was probably the best. I got up early to meet one of my Squaddies for a short shakeout run. An amazing person and incredible athlete. Setting huge PRs in his mid-50s. Such an inspiration!! So enjoyable. I wish we could’ve run much further, but we were both listening to our coaches… and focused on Marathon Monday. Later in the day, we managed to get all four of us Squaddies at the finish line together! We were like a old friends reuniting, though we’d never met in person before. Hugs, photos, and chatting away like long-lost BFFs (and the chattiest of our group weren’t even there)! Such an amazing day. I got to meet more of my family. Learn more about them and become even more humbled to be part of their group.

Part of my running family... Squaddies David Lynn, me, Elf Robertson, and Josh Stone.

One of the most amazing things amount the running community, is it’s easy. It’s comfortable. I didn’t really know most of the people I met Boston weekend, yet felt like I’d known them forever. Because we’re bonded. By running. Nothing solidifies that more than running with someone. Even if for a short while. If you’ve run a half-marathon or further, you probably know what I mean. At some point in the race, you are likely to chat, even if brief words of encouragement, with your neighboring runners. And, most often, it’s extremely relaxed. Like talking to an old friend. These recent experiences were enough to finally motivate me to go to a local group run yesterday. And, I’m so glad I did!! I saw folks I hadn’t seen in a while. Got to share a few miles with a few friends. And, just generally enjoyed being a part of the group! For a sport that is so focused on the individual, I love that we are a community. A family.

Another great example of the incredible running community and how it bonds us, is the 200+ mile relay race I recently did… But that’s a story for another day.

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