When I first met you many years ago, I wasn't a fan of yours at all. I mean — let's be real here — all my previous encounters with you had been . . . well, pretty crappy. Typically, these encounters were of the punishment variety. You know like when you screw up during softball, volleyball or rugby practice and coach makes you run suicides or laps around the block.
In all honesty, for many years you actually made me feel quite miserable — aching legs, difficulty breathing and mind-numbing boredom. I couldn't see what others saw in you.
But over the past nine years, we've forged an incredible friendship and I've come to realize that — as much as it pains me to say it — you're definitely soulmate material.
You know me better than I know myself, and you accept me along with all those dark and lonely thoughts that tend to emerge hours into a long training run.
You've never asked me to be anything other than exactly who I am in the moment that I'm lacing up those shoes. No matter how bad I tanked a run, you'd be right there to greet me for the next one with a short memory and a smile. You never asked for explanations or wanted a justification for any failure on my part to follow through.
You were there for me through every major life change. And when the weight of the world on my shoulders was too much, you offered me a safe place to go and all the time I needed to wash my insides clean of what was plaguing me.
You've reminded me constantly when something was out of balance in my life — sensing the smallest imbalance even when I can't and even when it's not related to running. By never letting me escape from the choices I made, you kept me honest and on track.
You kept my ego in check (time and time again) and taught me that there's no outrunning the truth and there's no point in lying — you know when I'm "on" and you know when I'm "off", teaching me to be okay with both.
You see through every protective layer I wear and force me to face the one person I often can't — myself. When nothing in this world could make me accept that who I am is good enough, you gave me the space to be authentic — no bravado, no disguise.
Sometimes you pushed me beyond my limits when I wasn't ready, made me cry and wanna throw in the towel. I blamed you for stress fractures, lost toenails, countless blisters, strained muscles, fatigue and burnout.
Even though I often blamed you — instead of myself — for these things, there was tremendous comfort in knowing that when I was ready to come back and really listen, you'd welcome me back with open arms.
Some days you built me up and some days you stripped me down. There have been days that made me feel on top of the world and days when I felt broken, vulnerable and weak. You made me doubt myself a hundred times … and believe in myself a thousand more.
Despite the fact that I sometimes wondered if we really were a good fit, every day we came together was another opportunity for greatness to emerge. It was through this process that I learned to hope. Because of you, I believe in miracles and I believe they happen every day.
You've taught me what it means to be strong by allowing me to feel weak. You've shown me the intense highs of great successes and the crushing lows of heart-breaking failure. You've made me feel boxed-in many times, but you've given me freedom every single day.
You're the truest friend I've ever known and one of the greatest loves of my life. Thank you for always telling me what I needed to hear, instead of what I wanted to hear. Thank you for your patience when I pushed you away and your forgiveness when I neglected, abused and ignored you.
There truly is no way that I could ever repay you for all that you've brought to my life and all the education you've provided to me over the years. But I know you don't need or expect anything from me in return because — as you've done every day for nearly a decade — you've only ever asked for one thing from me . . . just run.
All my love,
Got much love for running? Tell us how it's changed your life. —Alison