Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

An Origins Story

A good friend of mine is a coach for our local chapter of Team in Training, and this past Sunday, she invited me to come out for their weekly morning practice.  I trained for two races with TNT – the Alaska Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon (the very first running race I ever signed up for) and the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon (where I was a team mentor) – and being with this year’s group over the weekend reminded me of how I first fell in love with running.

In January 2006, I showed up for my very first Team practice, right near the famed Rocky Steps.  I had never run more than a couple miles at a time, and not since the dreaded “run” days in high school, when we’d circle the phys ed hallways for 10 or 20 or 30 minutes at a stretch.  I walked up to the group cautiously, not knowing a single person, and quickly fell into step with two girls who’d met each other only a few minutes earlier.

When they told us to divide into pace groups, I blindly followed those two girls who seemingly just as blindly wandered over to the eleven minute milers.  And almost instantly, a friendship was born.

Not sure about that outfit... or those sunglasses...

For the next five months, we became the Elite Eleveners.  We ran together every weekend.  We sung songs, mugged for pictures, and logged mile after mile, often chasing the long runs with longer brunches at local diners.

We ran our first race together in May, the 10-mile Broad Street Run, sandwiched between our two twenty-milers.

By the time we made it to Alaska, we felt like we’d known each other for years.

After Anchorage, I realized that 11:00 miles wasn’t my natural pace, and I gradually stopped running with the original Elite Eleveners.  But even as the miles decreased, the friendships held strong.

We had going-away parties for cross-country moves.

And celebrated together at weddings.

And as for running?  Well, it turns out, Team in Training alums stick together.  Two of my closest friends and longest-standing running buddies have trained with and raised money for the organization.  Both were mentors, and one is a coach.

It took us about a dozen tries - and a dozen hill repeats - to get this shot.

Post-NJ Marathon Hot Chocolate

I don’t see myself running more races with TNT, but I’ll always be grateful to the organization for introducing me to these incredible ladies.  Who knew that five years later I’d still be meeting some of them for running dates and post-run brunches (or dinners, as the case may be)?  Who knew where that cold 2006 January morning would take us?

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9 responses to “An Origins Story

  1. mallory June 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

    That’s so awesome that you’ve made such a good friend. I need more running buddies!!!!!

  2. kari @running ricig June 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

    This is awesome! I love having running buddies. I pretty much only have Mike and now my running group, so maybe I’ll have more soon!

  3. Julie (A Case of the Runs) June 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Great flashback! I have only trained with a group maybe once, not that I don’t like it (alas, they made me run faster), but it’s too much extra effort for me to get to the practices. TNT seems really soild.

  4. adventureisoutthere June 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

    LOVE IT!! The friendships that are made through TNT are some of the best friendships I have! Funny we both posted about TNT on the same day 🙂

  5. Kara June 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I loved this story! I met my running friends by randomly running into them in my neighborhood and inviting myself along on their stroller runs. 🙂

  6. natalie June 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    such a great post! and experience.

  7. Sarah S @RunningOnWords June 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Love it! I’ve come to realize that my closest friends are my running friends. I love group training!

  8. Kim (Book Worm Runs) June 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    This is awesome!!! I have heard great things about Team in Training and that is so great that you have remained friends! 🙂

  9. Johann June 22, 2011 at 6:33 am

    That is a great story and even better that you are still such good friends. I’ve been running a very long time (1st race in 1981) and obviously have lots(only) of runner friends. There are a few special ones where our friendships go way beyond running and it is indeed very special.

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