Today’s post is a part of my ongoing Mile Markers feature. The purpose of this (almost) weekly feature is to recount the memorable and meaningful runs and races that serve as signposts on our running journey. If you have a story of your own to tell, you can find the writer’s guidelines and my contact information on the Mile Markers page.
Who knew that hundreds of laps around McDonald arena at Missouri State University would yield a new runner and forge a new best friendship? My training partner and bestie Linden encouraged me to start running in graduate school. Our first semester she was training for the Chicago Marathon, and I’ll admit I was intimidated with her. She fell ill and wouldn’t make it to Chicago, but later that winter she would convince me to start running with her between classes.
It was a cold winter, so we ran inside the old university arena, and because our only free time coincided with indoor track practice, we were condemned to run not on the indoor track but in the corridor around the gym, seven laps to a mile. I didn’t even have a proper pair of running shoes, just a pair of Chinese sneakers I had purchased in China a few years earlier.
We ran/walked most days; one lap running, one lap walking. Then two laps and one lap. Then three and one. And one day we decided to just keep running and ran three miles without walking. It was the first time in a long time I felt I had accomplished something physically.
And then one of us suggested a race. OK, I don’t really remember which one of us brought the idea of a race or if we brought it up before or after those three miles, but after that day, a race — a real race — was suddenly a possibility. (I’ll save the story of my first race for another Mile Marker.) I bought a pair of real running shoes from an actual running store. I dug out my old Timex watch. I looked up 10K training programs on HalHigdon.com. I started reading Runner’s World. I was officially in training.
Grad school has come and gone. Linden spent two years in Germany and finished the Berlin Marathon, her first 26.2 miles. And she came back, and we started running right where we left off. I’ll say this, I don’t know if I should thank Linden for reintroducing me to running or if I should thank running for introducing me to Linden. So I’ll say thanks to the both of them!