So there I was, at the base of Shaw Mountain Road, pretending to be a runner in front of an actual runner, and the girl I was trying to impress into becoming my friend.
I should take a step back before telling this story and explain two things. One is that I have difficulty making friends. When I find someone I would like to be friends with, I do what in the animal kingdom would resemble some sort of awkward mating dance. I try so hard that I often just land flat on my face. (I’m working on NOT doing that)
Another thing is that, thanks to a combination of genetics and personality, I am a very competitive person.
When my potential friend talked to me about her new-found passion for running, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. This is something I knew! I ran track in high school. Sure, I’d never been much for long distance, (I’d ran one 5K previously) but his was something we could have in common.
She invited me to come to her next running group session. There was going to be a guest speaker, and afterwards, we’d run 6 miles.
This was it. I was going to run 6 miles with her, and we were going to be friends. Then I found out that another friend had also been invited to this gathering. This friend was an active runner who had shown interest in the group.
Why did my competitive side kick in? Why did I start thinking of conversation topics and choreographing a let’s-be-friends two step? Why am I admitting all these things now? I don’t have a good answer.
Back to the foot of the mountain… a wise man once said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. In this case the journey was much shorter, but it was up an incredibly steep hill, and I was not in good shape.
Off (and up) we went. At first, I was feeling pretty good. I was keeping up fairly well, and was thinking to myself, “This may not be too bad!” Then, we rounded the first corner.
There was a LOT more hill. Runner girl kept up the pep talk and even jogged at a slower pace so that potential and I could walk a few times. At this point I was out of breath and couldn’t remember my practiced talking-points. I was feeling defeated until potential said “Runner girl,” (if you haven’t noticed I’m going for a bit of anonymity for these lovely ladies’ sakes), “I kind of hate you right now.”
My heart swelled. There was hope for me yet! My mood climbed with the elevation, and although I was slow and breathless, I was exhilarated. I smiled when we turned around. Down is the fun part.
We moved quickly, the wind in our faces, the view awe-inspiring, and we let momentum take us all the way back to the bottom of the hill. It was that rush that turned me into a runner.
The fact that I made friends with both girls… well, at that point, it was just an ear-to-ear smile of a bonus.