Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Love to My White Rock Girls

Last week, the editors of dailymile sent out a request for stories about running partners for Valentine's Day. I don't know if my submission will make the cut, but this is what I sent in, and I wanted to share it here. 

After years of training and running on my own, I started developing a larger community based on friends I found through Twitter and dailymile last spring. I have gotten to the point where I would rather change my running plans and adjust my pace if needed so that I can run with others instead of slog through a long run on my own. I have a lot of folks that I enjoy sharing a run with, but in particular, there are three women who have become my core running buddies and dear friends in the process. We call ourselves the White Rock Girls.

The Original Group
All three of them, Melissa, Marci and Kris, had been running for far less time than I have (some under a year!) yet all three had signed up for the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10. My big race for the fall was the New York City Marathon a month later. We had run in varying combinations throughout the summer, and a couple of us had raced together too, growing closer each time. What really sealed the deal for us was our 20-miler in early September.  We met at White Rock Lake in Dallas for five 4-mile loops, with coolers loaded full of crushed ice, gatorade, and popsicles because we knew it was going to be a long day. This was the first time these ladies had done 20 miles, and this run really was the culmination of a lot of hard work we'd put in over the long, hot summer. It was a tough run, physically and mentally, for all of us, and yet we pulled each other through it and ended the day with big smiles and the sense that we were ready for 10/10 (I had decided to sign up for the Tyler Marathon on the same day, so that I could run in spirit with them if not physically there in Chicago). 

On race day, the three of us exchanged texts as we prepared for the starting line, and pumped each other up, reinforcing the messages we had been repeating all summer - "YOU GOT THIS," "Ninja Warrior Runner Chick!" "Just a 5K to go," etc. We were ready, and even though I was a thousand miles away at a different starting line and they each had their own race to run, we knew that we were in this thing together. By the end of that day, in Chicago heat that was warmer than what I was experiencing in Texas, those three girls had conquered their first 26.2 miles and become marathoners. They each had their own tests along the way, but what is most telling to me about the connection that we had is that Marci and I crossed our finish lines with nearly identical times of 5:37, and despite being separated at various points throughout the course, Mel and Kris crossed the finish line hand-in-hand ten minutes later. The congratulatory texts and phone calls came after just as the pre-race ones had, with all of us so excited that we had all reached our goals.  

When I ran the New York City marathon four weeks later, I had our picture from that 20-miler pinned to me, under my bib. They weren't ready to run another one with me but I still wanted them along with me every step of the way, to share my journey and to give me strength. In the time since then, we have run together in various combinations as often as we can. We have helped each other through personal crises, both on our runs and off, and we have grown to be so much more than running buddies. We are truly friends.

Running NYC with me.
Look for us at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.  We will be running together, probably wearing tutus, smiling, and gunning for sub-5:00 finishes!! Long live the White Rock Girls!! 

At the Gobble Hobble. I was on restriction so I cheered instead of ran.
NOTE:  The White Rock Girls have exploded!  We welcome any and all runners running at any pace for any distance who want to come out and share some miles, some good conversation and some great friendship!

Elaine, Kris, Fiona & Libby at White Rock in late January.

I am laughing because I look shorter than usual between Megan & Kris.


ERIN C. said...

What a great story!! I LOVE picture under your bib, I just might steal that for Cowtown. I'll give you credit though!!

KristianStevens said...

Seriously making me cry MAMA C. I really do love you. I really really really do.