Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Thank You for Being a Friend

I generally prefer being a solitary runner. Running is my relaxation, my deep breath, my alone time. But every now and then I need some company, and I need someone to kick my tail. Enter my friend Nikki.

Nikki and I have worked together for seven and a half years. We've run probably 4-5 half marathons together, at least one ten-miler (that I can recall) and dozens upon dozens of training runs. I can't tell you the number of times I've said to her, "Thanks for being patient. I'm struggling."

I run my best first thing in the morning, but Nikki and I have mastered the running meeting where we run at the end of the day. We talk about work, we work through problems, and in general she keeps me going when I'm (often) struggling.

Last week our work had its annual board retreat on Mackinac Island. Mackinac is a picturesque island in northern Michigan. There are no cars on the Island, and it's designed for people. Houses and businesses front the street. People, bikes and horse-drawn carriages share the street in a way that makes it more public space than thoroughfare.

I needed to do a 12-mile run while we were there, and like a good running friend Nikki had my back. I woke up on Friday morning, and my first thought was 'the sun hurts my eyes'. I had stayed out drinking and dancing for just a bit the night before, and running 12 miles seemed like the worst idea ever. I headed downstairs in the Grand Hotel (where we were staying) to mainline some coffee before our run. 

We started out running through the quaint downtown. The Island is 8.4 miles around, and I'd never been past downtown. We found ourselves leaving the resort area of the Island and heading into the state park. The back side of the Island is beautiful - tree lined and quiet with breathtaking views. As we got near the halfway mark of the run we had beautiful views of the Mackinac Bridge. At the early hour of the morning we basically had the trail to ourselves.

A view of the bridge from teh back side of the Island
After we circled the Island we had a few more miles to add. We headed back through downtown to iconic Arch Rock. At Arch Rock we (sort of) ran the 206 stairs to the top. The views were breathtaking. It was worth every shaky step.

Arch Rock is gorgeous
A selfie at Arch Rock
On the way back through town we took advantage of free doughnuts at a hotel downtown. I hadn't eaten anything before our run, and I was starving. The chocolate and peanut covered doughnut I ate was the best thing that's ever happened to me...or the best thing that happened to me on that run.

We ran the hill to the Grand, and I was amazed at my ability to pull out that run. I knew the only reason I'd pushed through it was a good running friend. The New York Marathon is a mere four months away, and there will be a lot of ugly runs before it arrives. 

I should mention that Friday was also Nikki's birthday, so she ran 12 miles with me on her birthday. THAT is a good friend. I am grateful to have a friend to push me through the hard ones!       

Also this should be in your head the rest of the day:

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