Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Run Alone

I don't need your help.  I'm not weak.  I can pick up that package.  Who cares that I'm wearing heals.  Excuse me, but I can lift it.  Let me be. I don't need you to help me with my luggage.  I'm fine, thank you very much.  See that chainsaw I have in my hand?  I'm chopping down a tree. Leave me alone.  Paint that entire beach wall?  Yeah, so what? Three coats, both sides, in the hot sun.  By myself.  You couldn't hang.  Don't even try. 

You want to help?  If you are a doode, no matter a stranger or a friend, you can hold the door for me. That would be nice.  I would like that.  However, other than that. I don't need your help.  

Because, I run alone

When I need to run. I run.  I don't meet up with groups of runners.  I don't make running dates.  I don't have running meet ups.  I just figure out when in my life I have time and have run out of excuses why I can't.  Then I run.

I like to run alone because it my time to clear my mind.  If you recall, running for me was a way to escape the stress and overwhelming drama as family members were dying.  This was a time for people to not depend on me.  To not need me.  For me to be me. 

I don't typically like to run with others.  Not that I hate it.  But, I like to go at my pace.  I worry that I'm too slow for some and too fast for others.  I need to go at my speed.  Whatever that is on any given day. It's my time to talk to myself.  To have discussions with me. 

However, I'm learning to accept people into my run.  

In February of this year Lisa and I signed up for the Chicago Marathon together. I had been running pretty consistently.  Nothing major as far as mileage.  Just doing my usual 5.5 mile trail loop.  Lisa had not run in many months.  She needed to start to get her run on again. So she met up with me for her first run.  I was worried about this run. Would I be too slow.  Would I be too fast.  Would we not be compatible running together?   It turns out it was great.  We both have long legs so our strides were pretty spot on.  After many months of no running she was right there with me. (Bitch)  I absolutely despise talking on a run.  But, we never shut up.  We talked about work.  Furniture.  Men.  The process in which we shave our legs. Running.  Running clothes. Cute shoes. Not wanting to shit our pants while running. We laughed a lot.  It was fun. 

We continued to meet for runs here and there as often as we could.  However, eventually, Lisa was back in her running shape. She's a runner.  She's speedy. I'm not.  Sadly, eventually, I had to start insisting that we could no longer run together.  She needed to do this on her terms.  Not mine. After loving being a lone runner, I was starting to think I was liking this partner running.  But, sadly it was over. 

I signed up for 2011 Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon . I was doing this alone.  At the time I knew nobody else running it.  I ran it twice before.  I would run it again. It didn't really matter to me if anybody else was running it.  I always race alone.  If people ask me to sign up for races with them my answer usually is, "Sure, but I won't run with you.  I run alone".  As time went by this lone race for me slowly became a race of many friends.  I was excited for them all to come.  I had Daily Mile friends ( Logan & Sara ) whom I had never met coming in.  I had an old college friend, Erin, coming in.  I had a long time friend, Robert-Jan,  from St. Maarten coming in. I had Lisa.  No longer was this going to be a lone race. 

Nobody knew each other.  As someone told me later I was the spoke in the wheel that brought us all together.  We all met.  We all got along really well.  It was awesome.  On race morning we all headed to the start area. 

Erin, me, Logan, Robert-Jan
In the past 40,000 runners takes awhile to get across the start line.  So, with that in mind we decided to take our time to get in our corrals. Logan was starting behind the Kenyans, so he bolted immediately, like as in I have no idea where he went, after this picture. Erin, RJ, & I hit gear check, the bathrooms, listened to the national anthem, then slowly walked towards our corrals.  Only to find them, well, gone. Huh? The start was WAY faster than anticipated.  We saw corrals #20 - #30 lined up around the corner, about ready to go.  But, for the three of us, our corrals were long gone.  None of us were the same corral.  But, we looked at each other, and said, "I guess we are starting", gave each other hugs, wished each other luck,  pressed our Garmins, and started to run.  

I had no intention of running with them for the entire race. I figured we would jog a bit to start and then spread out.  After all, I run alone.  Erin was with us for a bit.  But, then she got lost in the crowd.  We heard a few Wheee! Wheee! 's  and she was gone.  RJ and I continued to run together. We were going at a good pace together.  But, I was just waiting for us to split up at some point. 

 But, we continued on our pace together. To the 6 mile mark.  We both saw the clock time as we crossed and looked at each other.  I said, "That was fast" He said, "I know, that's my fastest ever".  I replied, "We need to slow down."  He answered, "No, lets keep going".  I hated him.

Robert-Jan and me hand in hand over the finish
I'm tall. But, RJ's VERY tall. I was having  hard time keeping up.  My piriformis injury was hurting.  I made sure to get water at every station.  RJ did not.  So, each time I would have to run and catch up to him after drinking.  Thankfully, he was easy to spot.  Thankfully, he slowed down a bit to wait for me.  When I was hurting, he reminded me that I could do it.  When he started cramping at mile 11 or so, I reminded him he could do it.  When he pulled up just before the finish line I told him to suck it up and get his ass to the finish.  I was in pain too.  We could do this. He hopped up.  We ran.  To the finish.  Just as we got to the finish he grabbed my hand.  We crossed together. 

We ran start to finish together.  For the first time I did not race alone. And, it was ok.  It was better than ok.  It was great.  I think there were a few times I would have quit on myself.  Gone slower.  Maybe not pushed as hard.  But, I had RJ to keep up with.  I had RJ to bring to the finish at the end when he was hurting. 

This weekend I had something hit me in the gut. Weird.  Random.  Out of the blue.  But, it socked me to the core.  So much so it made me vomit.  I went out for a long ride (I'm still injured and can't run) to sort it out.  It wasn't working.  Logan was texting me to make sure I was ok. I wasn't.  I was still shaking.  I was still vomiting.  I would ride a few miles. Read something he wrote.  Write back. Think about what he said.  Ride some more.  Read some more.  Write some more.  Ride some more. Until it got better.  Until I could just ride.  At around mile 26 I was lost.  Of course I was. How appropriate.  I was in the woods.  I had no idea where I was or how I was going to get out.  It was starting to get dark. Honestly, I felt like sitting down and quitting. But, I knew another text would come in asking where on my ride I was.  I couldn't say I was under a tree.  So, I took a deep breath and figured out how to get the hell out of there. 

41 miles later I was okay. However, I wouldn't have been if I was riding alone.  But, I wasn't riding alone.

I'm learning how to not run alone.  It's hard for me.  I like the alone part.  I like the solitude.  However, I also need people by my side too.  I can't keep insisting that I don't.  


  1. I've ran alone so long, and I enjoy it...although my current struggle is I now yearn to run with others more so to have that bond I see everywhere on these sites.

  2. I so understand! Since the 1st day I started to run - I have done it alone. It has only be recently that I have run with others, and I do enjoy it. In the end - I will choose to run alone because that is how I started - it is me time. Keep on running!

  3. It will be a long journey, but we will get there. TOGETHER.

  4. hey, when you are up and running. lets meet for our monday runs. i miss them. I miss you. Deal??!

  5. Love this. I go back and forth between hermit and groupie.

  6. Great post! Really makes you think...! I don't run with anyone but Mike because I know I don't have anything to prove to him. I am also always afraid of being to slow and holding someone back! Very nice writing Andrea!

  7. Thanks all! It's good to see other people struggle with the alone vs peeps run. I think we all could use a little bit of both. I know I need both. @Lisa - Deal. For sure. :D